Friday, July 30, 2010


Way back when one of my Russian tutors was from Kazakhstan and the other was from Turkmenistan. My tutor from K-stan explained what the suffix -stan means. Her explanation included a story told by her grandfather, whether or not this is fictional I don't know exactly, but I liked the story anyway. When most of Central Asia was nomadic, he began, the communities lived in small yurt villages. Each family was able to carry their home in carts or side bags carried by their animals. The yurts could be pulled down or put up in a matter of hours, and when the community needed to move, they could in a hurry. They selected the area where they would set up their yurts with care. It needed to be safe and close to food and water sources. The yurts were put up in a circle formation, and the people referred to this yurt community as their "stan." The word "stan" had tribal connotations as well as territorial implications. I have not done any research to confirm that this is historically accurate, but considering the implications of "stan" in today's language, it seemed that this explanation might well have been the origin of the common suffix.

Linguistically speaking, the suffix "stan" is an ancient Persian and/or Farsi word meaning country, nation, land or place of. The suffix appears in the names of many regions, especially Central and South Asia. The country Turkmenistan therefore means "place of the Turkmen." In Persian the suffix is used more generally in words such as rigestan 'place of sand' or desert. In Sanskrit devasthan, 'place of devas' means temple. The root of -stan, "sta" is also the source of the English words stand and status

Although I have left Turkmenistan, I have not changed the name of my blog Anniestan because literally this translates to "place of Annie," and that is exactly what this blog is. It is an expression of my place and journey on this earth. I may not be in a -stan country anymore, but wherever I go automatically becomes my Anniestan.

1 comment:

Huelo said...

Annie, I have enjoyed your writing so much. I hope you keep updating and wish you good luck.
I posted a link to this site on my blog, I hope you don't mind. I think it's such a great account of a Peace Corps experience.