Suggestion and pragmatics of ‘tilek-bata’ words in Kazakh language

This article is devoted to the suggestion and pragmatics of the wishes-blessings words (tilek-bata), which belong to the folklore heritage of the Kazakh people. The words of wishes-blessings of the Kazakh people are the linguistic heritage of the ancient Kazakh culture, one of the linguistic sources that determine the identity of the Kazakh ethnic group. It is obvious that the abundance of words of blessing in today's colloquial speech and works of art is not only a language puzzle that has been stored in the memory of people for centuries, but also a pattern of speech that occupies a special place in our modern world. It reflects the worldview, life attitudes, and everyday life of the Kazakh mentality in the course of historical language development. A characteristic psychological feature of folk art is the belief in the power of the word. In this regard, the consideration of the wishes-blessings in linguistics in the direction of suggestion linguistics is an anthropocentric necessity in modern linguistics, as “the knowledge of a person within a language”. When studying the suggestion of wishes-blessings, there is a need to consider both the magical power of wish-blessing words and the pragmatic impact.


Suggestion was initially generated from a specific purpose, and was used to carry out certain activities. Its pre-scientific period covered the ancient time up to the middle of ХІХ century. The suggestion of this period is manifested in the images of sages, healers, and magicians. They were limited to healing and religious prayers. Sages, healers, and magicians created the text of prayers from the words and word combinations that only they could understand. Apart from activities like building a fire, moving in circles around fire that are peculiar to magic and healing activities, the wishes of prayer and worship constituting the source of magic and healing activities were used. These activities were also used to raise the healers and magicians’ credibility among the folk, and to make the folk worship them. The analogue of the word “magician” in ancient Persian language is “magush”. In ancient Iran, Zoroastrianism sages were called “magush”. They practiced magic and soothsaying.

The words of prayer used for healing, bewitching, casting a spell in Eastern and Western countries are similar to “arbau” (verbal charms) used by baksy in Kazakh nation. There are only some ritual differences. The scientist Sh. Walikhanov: “Arbau in Kazakh means incantation. Arbaushy is a person who is able to save a man from different magical forces, diseases by speaking or singing verbal charms. To check the power of these charms Kazakhs used to use them on a snake. If “arbau” words had real power, the snake would die. Generally, the initial meaning of this word is incantation. The Kazakhs also use the Persian word “sykhyr” (magic)” [1: 61].

The livability of ‘tilek-bata’ words through centuries is the manifestation of national suggestion. The Kazakh proverbs “жақсы сөз — жарым ырыс” (a good word is half of blessing), “батаменен ел көгереді” (bata makes the homeland flourish) were created from the belief in the magical power of ‘bata’ (blessing) words in elimination of dishonor and adversities and bringing welfare. That is, if other nations came to realize the secret of suggestion through incantation, magic, Kazakhs did it through belief in shamanic secrets, superstition, and it led to the emergence of different superstitious beliefs and taboos. There is a very strong power of belief not only in their language information, but also in everyday activities. The scientist Kh. Kustanaev: “Kazakhs teach their children to speak in the first place. For that purpose, they fed the children the bread broken by orators and beys (leaders), made them lie down and roll over in these people’s

beds, had these leaders spit into the children’s mouth and they believed that their children would be given eloquence this way” [2: 48].

Suggestive linguistics is a conscious access in the subconscious and the possibility of purposeful influence on the personality constructs. Suggestion as a verbal influence often coexists with belief. It has not only informational and intellectual value, but also a convincing power. “Causing emotions, it affects the feeling” [3: 59]. ‘Bata’ is always subjective, and a suggestor giving ‘bata’ is represented as an active person. He has his own manner of speech, intonation, melody of speech. He speaks insinuating himself into suggerend’s confidence, appears psychologically at ease, thus, charming the interlocutor. Therefore, the suggerend receives this 'bata' addressed to him with all his heart. Different social relations of communicants (suggestor-suggerend) engaged in communication in the process of giving ‘bata’ are taken into account: the communicants’ level of knowledge and culture; social status; their relationship (parent-child, father-son, mother-daughter, grandfather-grandson, sister-brother, relative-stranger); social level (suggestor-suggerend); age (elderly-young, old man-boy, friends); gender (woman-man).

History of the question

The scientists K.М. Varshavsky, S.N. Astahov, А. Kiklevich’s studies are dedicated to the subject of suggestion. These works use the term “suggestion” instead of “conviction”. As the notion of suggestion is considered from cognitive point of view, it is naturally not regarded as an object of research, as a specific concept or field in Kazakh linguistics that has been studied in a structural level. Therefore, this term is not included into the dictionary of terms of national linguistics. This testifies to the fact that the term of suggestion was not an object of study in linguistics, i.e., it was not a concept especially specific to the field of linguistics.

This research work considers the scientific works and articles of the scientists А. Baitursynuly, Sh. Walikhanov, K. Zhubanov, A. Kaidar, R. Syzdykova, Zh. Mankeeva, G. Smagulova, N. Waliuly, S. Tolekova, А. Islam, K. Gabitkhanuly; Russian linguists I.Y. Cherepanova, L.N. Murzin, А. Klyuev.

A huge work was done to collect the research object of suggestion — ‘tilek-bata’ words — into the legacy of Kazakh folklore. Namely, the third volume of V.V. Radlov’s “Samples of Folk Literature of Turkic Peoples” in ten volumes published in 1870 touches upon the ‘bata’ words. A. Divaev’s “Kazakh folk art” (1989) covers the samples of Kazakh folk art. S. Negimov’s work “Ak bata” (1992), М. Eslamjanuly’s work “Batalar” (1998), K. Yskakov’s work “Ak bata” (2000), the scientist N. Waliuly’s work “Bata-tilekter” (2005) were published. They cover the ‘bata’ words that were preserved by word of mouth and in manuscript in different archives. In addition, Z.B. Umbetalina’s research in this direction is dedicated to considering ‘bata’ as a literature genre; its peculiarities of linguistic application are considered by the scientists A. Kaidar, N.Waliuly, G. Smagulova; the semantic peculiarities of phrasemes used to denote gratitude, ‘qargys’ (damnation) are manifested in the works of S. Tolekova, K. Rysbaeva. In the works of the ethnographers S. Kenzheakhmetuly, N. Oseruly, А. Junisuly, who studied Kazakh ancient traditions and rites, we can find a collection of words used in ‘bata’.

The scientist L. Davidson wrote: “Through suggestive methods one can deeply influence a person’s thoughts, mood, feelings, behavior and activities. Emotional fantasy, psychological instruction help convict a person through the help of emotion. Fantasy and strong emotion in combination are a mechanism for implementing the conviction” [4: 128]. This thought is a profound definition of the term “suggestion”. “Suggestive linguistics as a qualitative linguistic theory explains the impact of language on the subconscious and daily activities” [5: 163]. The scientist R.M. Piper made a step towards determining the structure of suggestion, in other words, he laid the foundations of the science that studies this phenomenon. He defined suggestion as “the use of manifold history and the power of any action, as well as the possibility to manifest them” [6: 188]. Identification serves for assimilation (comparing signal to action, phoneme to phoneme, name to object, meaning to meaning) and influence, and destruction serves for destabilization or interference to independence, limitation of influence, and barrier to intercommunication. Restarting the influence requires a new level and new tools. They cover the following concepts: phonological, nominative, semantic, syntax- logical, contextual-informative, formal-symbolic.

B.F. Porshnev didn’t assert the need to understand linguistic influence (development) in each level. However, all specified levels refer to suggestive text and acquire a meaning in a certain limit. Similarly, if phonological and syntax-logical levels are a less investigated phenomena, the nominative and formal- symbolic levels acquire a higher perception in verbal mythology. The scientist H. Gardnersuggests different the structure of the text of suggestive linguistics: informative, logical, morphological, functional, phonemic analysis of the text. The representative of Georgian school R.G. Mshvidobadze said: “If we assume that a person very often hides his relationships and emotions or simply does not think about them during communication, then this, of course, has little effect on the lexical resource, since the speaker easily controls both the vocabulary and other expressive means, but, nevertheless, the information still leaks out, and it is necessary to look for more formal, unconscious characteristics and their connection with certain attitude or emotion” [7: 49]. ‘Bata’ requires an appropriate place. It is given during a certain ceremony. A person giving bata should be a respected, eloquent aksakal (old man) who is recognized for his wit and wisdom. People who delivered bata in ancient times also contributed to creation of folklore. The main purpose of these people is not to create the text spontaneously, but to perform a ceremony based on a certain belief.

Main part

People trusted ‘bata’ so much that it was used instead of vows in wedding ceremonies. For example, during “kyz aittyru” (planning a wedding), after discussing the wedding date and state of affairs, parents received ‘bata’ to protect the ‘kudalyk’ (matchmaking). ‘Bas kuda’ (the head matchmakers) of the two sides immersed the tip of the spear into the bowl filled with the blood of a slaughtered sheep, and drank the blood, which means “our blood mixed, now we are relatives”. This ceremony was described in the works of the scientist Kh. Argynbaev [8: 97]. If the parents of the girl receive the ‘zhaushy’ (messenger, literal meaning is enemy) who came with ‘bata ayak’ well, the dzhigit’s side give them gelded camel and eagle-owl feathers as a gift. After mutual agreement ‘zhaushy’ pinned ‘uki’ (an owl’s feather) to the bride’s dress. The horses given as a gift and tethered to the hitching post were called ‘bata ayak’. After tethering the ‘bata ayak’, the elderly people of the village gave ‘aq bata’ expressing their wishes to become in-laws connected through “aq bata, red blood, and God”.

‘Bata’ suggestion, the psychology of trust in ‘bata’ is deeply instilled in Kazakh people’s mind. Where there is life, there is hope. “A life without hope has no sense. The main condition for having a hope is being alive. There is a Kazakh saying “The alive continues to create”. Hope is an idea about future. It is a direction of a thought. Kazakh’s say: “Үмітсіз — шайтан” (Only devil has no hope). Even a person with a serious disease has a hope for life. Where the flame of hope is extinguished, there is no life. Hope is like a beam of light. A person with three days left to live thinks about those three days of life. We don’t choose to be born. As we reach the age of reason, we are guided by our hope. It shows that we search for welfare somewhere in the future” [9: 47].

Positive ‘bata’ and a good wish is expressed with the feeling of gratitude, ‘teris bata’ is believed to be severe type of damnation and punishment. ‘Teris bata’ is a type of bata given with the palms facing down; it is sent to a person who didn’t meet expectations, who caused harm. This type of ‘bata’ was rarely used. And in case it is used, it would pass down from father to son “as a mark on a bone”. Those who got ‘terisbata’ from own father were not well-treated by the people. In the prophet Muhammad’s Hadith “Three prayers are undoubtedly answered. One of them is the prayer of parents against the child who displeased them”. For example, when Abai’s father Kunanbai was giving his ‘teris bata’, Nurganym and Izgutty asked God not to accept that prayer. They were afraid of the power of a word: “He stretched out his hands, palms outwards, as though pushing someone away — motioning towards Abai and Amir who had only just regained consciousness. Then Kunanbai brushed his face with his knuckles — an unspoken prayer for vengeance.

Nurganym and Izgutty cried together:

“Reject his prayer, O Allah!”

“Hear him not, O Lord of the Creation! Woe! Woe! He is cursing his own children,” they repeated in horror. Kunanbai seemed oblivious of them. Kneeling by his bed, he clearly enunciated the curse, pointing now to Abai and now to his prostrate grandson.

“Begone!” he shouted hoarsely. “Even if in truth my blood flows in your veins, you are bastards! I shall make a sacrifice of both of you. Go to your death and may you perish quickly. Begone!”

Abai listened, looking at his father with contempt.

“I will go. And forever!” he said tersely.

Kunanbai drew the curtain and leaned back, his beads moving swiftly in his wiry hands — once more the Hadji had given himself up to prayer and repentance”. (M. Auezov. “The path of Abai”).

As an opposing power to a good wish and a positive bata, ‘teris bata’ is a concept born from a malice that complicates the life, depresses a person, and puts the soul in turmoil. “Teris bata is a dark energy” [10: 59]. In suggestive communication of Kazakh nation, a wide use of ‘tilek-bata’ words reflects the metaphorical thinking. The suggestionized ‘tilek-bata’ words influence the process of perception, and cause

different psychological processes. ‘Tilek-bata’ text is orally passed from suggestor to suggestor or from suggerend to suggerend, but if there are no subjective changes in the text, it got into people’s habit to consistently use them when exchanging opinions and expressing different feelings. ‘Tilek-bata’ words imply verbal and non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication helps notice the communicant’s emotional state, and the main verbal communication provides the opportunity to study the listener’s psychology. Here, the suggestor perceives the suggerend’s product of thought that triggered the blessing, creates an appropriate content of ‘bata’ and ‘tilek’.

This is manifested within the frames of linguistic suggestion.

Tabel 1

Suggestion of Allah, Suggestion of “Kydyrata”, Suggestion of saints.

Suggestion of dream interpretation,

Prophetic dream,

Suggestion of shamanism,

Suggestion of telling fortune by little stones.

Taboo words Ritual words.

Forms of suggestive linguistics are:

Therefore, first of all, the suggestor should use a ‘bata’ text that implies something in which the suggerent is interested and which corresponds to suggerent’s current situation, because suggerent’s perception of ‘tilek-bata’ is important for the suggestor. Psychological conditions determining the expression of ‘tilek-bata’ words: spiritual wish of a ‘tilek-bata’ receiver; relying on certain arguments: correct use of semantic aspects depending on the event, situation; mutual understanding — correspondence of the suggestor’s purpose and suggerend’s response. To determine the importance of ‘tilek-bata’ words in establishing communication, application of these words in establishing psychological communication can be roughly divided into following groups: psychological condition directly impacting the expression of emotion through the use of ‘tilek-bata’ words: they express the states of satisfaction, pleasure, composure, approval, joy, gratitude, admiration, and form the basis of speech situation. These states mostly depend on the expression of ‘tilek-bata’ words, because ‘bata’ is given when there is a wish and a psychological interest in expressing this wish, as well as in connection with certain ceremony or situation. Thus the psychological use of ‘tilek’ words can be divided into:

  • wishes of satisfaction: “алғаның ас болсын”, “дəтке қуат берсін”, “жəрекімалла”, “Құдай түбін берсін”;
  • wishes of delight: “Айналып кетейін” –this wish is especially often used in the elderly’s wishes to cherish the children;
  • wishes of contentment: “Аз болса да, көп болсын” (may you have more quality than quantity), “дегеніңе жет” (may you succeed);
  • wishes of pleasure, gratitude: “аузыңа май, астыңа тай”, “құсың құтты болсын”, “жасың құтты болсын”, “жақсылығың алдыңнан шықсын” (may your good deeds return to you), “жақсылығың Алладан қайтсын” (may Allah return all your good deeds), “мың болғыр”, “мың жаса” (Live long);
  • wishes of approval: “айтқаның ақ болсын!” (may you speak only the truth), “айтқаның келсін!” (may it be) — response wish; “айтқандарың періштенің құлағына шалынсын” — religious wish; “айтқаның болып, дегенің келсін” (may your words come true), “айтқаның келсiн”, “айтқаның ақ болсын” (may it be);

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  • wishes of support: “талабың таудай болсын”, “талабыңа нұр жаусын”, “жүрекке медет, дəтке қуат берсін”, “тасың өрге домаласын”, “қуанышың қойныңа сыймасын”, “қуанышың қайырлы болсын”;
  • wishes of favor: “қош келдің”;
  • wishes of consolation: “шипа берсін”, “ем болсын” (may you recover), “жаның жаннатта болсын” (religious) — a wish to the soul of a person who left this world. It was believed that according to the good and bad deeds a soul goes to paradise or hell.

So, manifetation of ‘tilek-bata’ words in suggestive communication determines its field of application and reflects the relationship between suggestor and suggerend from psychological point of view. The text of ‘tilek-bata’ is based on the experience of Kazakh nation gained through centuries. It reflects all beliefs, superstitions and life experience of the whole nation. Therefore, the nation regards it as a holy text. For example, in the wishes of gratitude and damnation such as “шаңырағың берік болсын”, “шаңырағың шайқалмасын”, “шаңырағың биік болсын”, “шаңырағың ортасына түссін” the notion of “шаңырақ” (circular opening at the top of the yurt) may be unclear for other nations. Shanyrak is extremely valuable for Kazakhs and is considered to be a sacred symbol of family, wellbeing and piece. It is an important concept that implies the father’s succession to a son. Its circular form in the system of signs in symbolics means infinity — succession of generations. In Kazakh tradition a deliverer of bad news broke this news stepping upon the threshold with right foot, and reaching out for the doorframe with both hands. According to the scientist S. Jandybaev: “The notion “Шаңырағы ортасына түсті” (Shanyrak fell to the ground) means the destruction of a house, fall of a family, extinction of their descendants. Acts of hostility can destroy a yurt, breaking its ‘uk-kerege’. The fall of shanyrak is a sign of misfortune and the worst act of hostility for Kazakh people. It signified not only the fall of a house, but also the loss of welfare and peace for the whole family. Previously the notion “Шаңырағы ортасына түсті” meant an act of assault [11: 224]. Thus, suggestive meaning of “shanyrak” is very profound.

The linguistic image of a nation is directly connected with its spirituality. Different nations have different reflection of these phenomena. One more manifestation of national suggestion is a belief in the power of fire. The wishes of wellbeing to a family regarding a fire are: “отың өшпесін”, “отының басынан, ошағының қасынан бер”, “отың аман, ошағың бүтін болсын”, “отыңның басы ойнақты болсын, қораңның іші торпақты болсын”, “Құтты болсын келіндер, құтты болсын, Бақыт орнап басына ырыс қонсын, ошағыңның үш бұты күміс болып, əбдіре мен кебежеңе алтын толсын” (K. Amanzholov). There are also the wishes like “Отыңды өшірме, өз затыңды итке жегізбе” (Don’t extinguish the fire. Don’t let the dogs eat your food), which also reflect the meaning of the wish “түтінің түзу шықсын”. Every wish is based on a belief, superstition. Buryats have an analogue of the Kazakh negative wish “отың өшсін” — “ошағың сөнсін” (may your fire extinguish). This wish reflects a belief in the power of fire. People believed in the purifying power of the fire, and worshipped even the ashes left after the fire. It was prohibited to step upon a fireplace and ashes. “Indeed, Kazakhs faithfully follow the superstitious rules not to step over the fireplace, not to spit. Kazakhs even worshipped the “jeroshak” — a hole for laying a fire. They damned those who they despised saying “отың өшкір” (may your fire extinguish), “күлің көкке ұшқыр” (may your ashes be blown away). The oath was made with the words “от соқсын”, “от аттайын”. A sinner or a sick man had to walk between two fires. It was called “alastau” (purification with fire). A man who made an oath in front of an audience was purified with fire. Before migrating to summer pasture from kstau (the winter site), people were to walk between two fires. This signified the firing of old misfortune and slander” [12: 131].

The origin of the taboos like “Ошақтағы отты су құйып өшірме” (don’t extinguish the fire in the hearth with water), “оттан аттама” (don’t step over the fire), “отқа түкірме” (don’t spit at fire), “отпен ойнама” (don’t play with fire), “от шығарма” (don’t set a fire), “от кеспе” (don’t cross the fire) may be based on different beliefs and superstitions, but we also can’t ignore their connection with real life experience. In this regard, the scientist А. Seidimbek emphasized that mythological and religious beliefs of people tabooing the extinguishment of fire with water is one thing, quite another is the beliefs of nomadic people whose way of life implies the conservation of ecosystem. He associates these taboos with the feeling of compassion to each other that is a necessary quality in nomadic way of life. А.S. Kaskabasov associates the origin of the word “отау” with a ceremony of placing children to separate yurt. According to him, the word “отау” is derived from the words “отты алу” or “от алу” (receiving a fire) which signifies the share of fire taken from “үлкен отау” (father’s yurt)” [13: 74].


The source of Kazakh ethnic culture is its rich folklore, which includes ceremonial ‘tilek-bata’ words. ‘Tilek-bata’ text is mostly connected with the nation’s history, way of life and traditions. The nation’s worldview and its connection with nature generated appropriate ‘tilek-bata’ words. The text of these words reflect our ancestors’ values, spiritual culture, way of life, occupation, beliefs and traditions. Though ‘tilek- bata’ words went through semantic changes through centuries, its original content reached our times due to belief in power of words.

In any centuries and any society, the power of a word, its influence on a human psyche was huge. If good wishes can motivate and empower a person, words of damnation can put a man under psychological pressure. Thus, our nation expressed its philosophical view on the power of ‘tilek’ with the words “батамен ел көгереді” (bata helps nation flourish), “қарғыс алма, алғыс ал” (don’t be cursed, be blessed). Kazakh ‘bata’ words reflect the national essence. A belief that shanyrak is a succession of life caused the emergence of ‘tilek-bata’ words connected with this belief. ‘Tilek-bata’ words regarding the notion of a boiler, succession of generations, proper nouns are likewise based on different beliefs. In addition, there are many ‘tilek-bata’ words regarding natural phenomena, social and economic life. These wishes were triggered by the Kazakhs’ belief that they are the part of nature. ‘Tilek’ words determined the way of life of a man. ‘Tilek’ and ‘bata’ words have a lot of similarities and differences. They are determined according to their place of use, content and volume. In this article the words of damnation (qargys) were used from oppositional point to emphasize the influence, psychological impact of ‘tilek-bata’ words. The article provides many examples of ‘qargys’ words. The research determined that there are ‘qargys’ words with strong impact and less strong impact. These words take roots from ancient times, are expressed in certain situations and have a great pragmatic influence. ‘Qargys’ words with less strong impact lost their power due to frequent use in everyday conversation. ‘Tilek-bata’ words are mostly used in imperative sentences. Along with an imperative sense, these words contain an implication of a wish.



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Year: 2021
City: Karaganda
Category: Philology