Have a Cushty Nauryz!

19 Mar

19 March 2021

There are not many words that are shared by the English and Kazakh languages, but posters appearing in Almaty, Kazakhstan in the run up to Nauryz, the spring equinox celebration, alerted kazaxia to the Kazakh word күшті (kushty) a word that is also used in English.

In Kazakh күшті means strong but it is also used in a colloquial sense to mean great – the same as in English – as in this phrase ‘Наурыз күшті болсын’ a play on words on the phrase ‘Наурыз құтты болсын!’ – Happy Nauryz!

‘Cushty’ is thought to have come into English via Romany or Urdu. It has been traced back to Persian, which in turn influenced both Romany and Urdu. It’s used in Cockney, the dialect of true Londoners, to mean great. Fans of the 1980’s British comedy Only Fools and Horses will recall Del Boy being fond of using cushty.

Nauryz, celebrated on 22 March in Kazakhstan, the holiday marks the the day when day and night are equal, and for many it’s the start of the new year. The holiday has ancient roots and is celebrated by peoples with Persian roots and in many other parts of the world such as Turkey, Pakistan, Central Asia, the Caucasus and north-western China.

In Kazakhstan it’s usually celebrated with family gatherings and street parties but this year large public events are cancelled because of the pandemic.

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