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What’s With “-Stan” in All Them Furrin’ Country Names? January 2, 2015

Posted by geoff in News.

Via Digg, a chance to put you some effing knowledge in this as yet unsullied year:


1. Sobek - January 2, 2015

I haven’t watched the video yet, but the answer is: it’s a Turkish word meaning “land of.” If you think it’s odd that there’s a Turkish suffix so far from actual Turkey, it’s because the original Turko-Mongolian homeland was in the Stan region, before a mass-migration over to what is now Turkey, during the time of the Abbassid Caliphate. So the Stans are “Land of the Kazakhs,” “Land of the Turkmen,” “Land of the Tajiks,” “Land of the Uzbeks,” “Land of the Kyrgyz” and “Land of the Afghans.” That designation is ironic in the cases of Tajikistan and Afghanistan because the major ethnic groups speak Persian and Pashto, respectively.

I left Pakistan off that list, because there is no ethnic group called the Pakis. Rather, it sorta means “the Pure Land,” but really it’s an acronym. When the Muslims in India decided they wanted a country of their own, they said they wanted a “Pakistan,” an idea with imprecise boundaries, but incorporating Punjab, Karachi, Sind, and Baluchistan (the Baluchistan bit is a cop-out, I think, but whatever).

Also included in Pakistan was modern-day Bangladesh, even though they are separated by thousands of miles, again because they were Muslim-majority areas. Sorta. If you want to have some fun, go to Google Maps and find the border between India and Bangladesh, and zoom in close enough to realize it’s basically a fractal.

2. Retired Geezer - January 2, 2015

That video was pretty cool but it went by too fast for me to catch a lot of the stuff.
*contemplates rewatch.

3. lauraw - January 3, 2015

That last jab on the etymology of ‘distant’ was nifty and grin-worthy.

4. daveintexas - January 5, 2015

Stan who?

5. OBF - January 5, 2015

So then where does Laurel fit into the whole deal?

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