Preliminary abstract: The honorific speech of Kazakh nomads I propose to study is of great anthropological interest because highly systematic honorific expressions are found in a presumably egalitarian nomadic society. Are the Kazakh nomads not very egalitarian after all? What kinds of asymmetric relations are expressed in Kazakh honorifics? What do these linguistic forms communicate besides social status? What motivates the Kazakh nomads to actively engage in the give and take of honorific speech? I hypothesize that Kazakh nomads use honorifics not only to acknowledge certain unequal social relations that may exist among them, but also to invoke moral stereotypes ideologically associated with their choice of linguistic forms, regardless of their social standing. This research explores the semiotic processes that link honorific speech to the local notions of moral personhood, proper conduct, and ideal social order.