Or the basic linguistic knowledge you need to survive in Kyrgyzstan

(1) The state language of the Kyrgyz Republic shall be the Kyrgyz language.
(2) In the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian language shall be used in the capacity of an official language.
Kyrgyz Republic’s Constitution, Article 10, 1st and 2nd paragraphs

The Kyrgyz Constitution of 2010 (as well as the 1993 constitution) recognizes the quality of official language to both Kyrgyz and Russian languages.

Still the use of the languages is different throughout the country. The main difference is between the big cities and the rest of the country. In this context, the use of Russian language is slightly increased in the cities while in the rest of the country the Kyrgyz language is mostly used, you can even meet people who can’t speak Russian at all. In the cities, especially in Bishkek, many people usually use Russian instead of Kyrgyz even it is not their first language. Beside Russian and Kyrgyz, the Uzbek language is the native language for an important percent of population in the South-West of the country.
The Kyrgyz language is a Turkic language written with Cyrillic script (same script as that used for Russian language, but with three more characters that express specific Kyrgyz language sounds). Languages related to Kyrgyz are Kazakh, Uzbek, Turkish, Azerbaijani etc.
For foreigners who know Russian it is a way easier to deal in Kyrgyzstan, but, as the most foreigners use English as the main language abroad, it’s important to know that the number of English speakers in Kyrgyzstan is really small, especially among 2nd and 3rd age people (so you have better chances to be understood in English by young people) and especially out of the big cities and important tourist destinations. So, for “surviving” in Kyrgyzstan, is needed a basic knowledge of Russian and/or Kyrgyz (best “and”).

Beside the basic words, the Cyrillic alphabet it’s also a must-know. This alphabet, that “covers” both Kyrgyz and Russian languages, is similar to the Greek alphabet and it’s really easy to gain the ability to read it especially because there are almost no rules of reading, basically, you have just to read every letter and that’s it.


Must know words

Now, let’s see which words and phrases can really increase your chances of being understood in Kyrgyzstan:

English Kyrgyz Russian
Hello Salam Zdrastvuite
Good bye Jakshy kalynyz Do svidanie
Thank you Rahmat Spasibo
Yes Ooba Da
No Jok Net
Excuse me Kechiresiz Prostite
I don’t understand Men tushunbodum Ia ne ponimaiu
Do you speak English? Siz anglizche suiloisuzbu? Vy govorite po angliiski
I want … Men … kaalaim Ia hochu …
I need … Maga … kerek Mne nuzhno
I’m lost Men jogulup kaldym Ia paterialsia (m)/paterialas’ (f)
How much is …? … kancha turat? Skol’ko stoit …?
Where is …? … kaierde? Gde …?
I don’t speak Russian Men oruscha bilbeim Ya ne govoryu po russki
Stop here Bul gerden toktotunuz Ostanovite zdes’
I want to order … Bul nerseni alsam bolobu … Hochu zakazat’ …
Please Suranych Pozhaluista
You're welcome Echteke emes Ne za chto
Draft beer Kuima syra Razlivnoe pivo
Where is the nearest…? En jakyn … kaida? Gde samyi blizkii …?
Service Teiloo Obsluzhyvanie
OK Jakshy Horosho
I don’t want … Men kalabaim … Ia ne hochu …
I love you Men seni suiom Ia tebia libliu