[lg policy] Kazakhstan: Fishy Language Policy

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Mon Aug 23 15:10:33 UTC 2010

Fishy Language Policy

Apologies for the pun in the title. Couldn’t resist.

Apparently a shop in Aktobe is being sued by a customer for being
unable to explain a tin of fish in Kazakh. The language law says that
all consumer information must be available in Kazakh. For those who
don’t live here, all products made in Kazakhstan have product
information in both languages. Most products made abroad are targeted
for the former Soviet Union and have information in any combination of
Russian, Kazkh, Ukranian, Belarussian, Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Armenian,
Azerbaijanian and sometimes even Korean, Mongloian, Chinese, and other
obscure languages.

Foreign products that do not have information in Russian or Kazakh
have labels glued to them with that information. No idea who does it,
whether it’s customs or the shop or the distributor, but everything
made in Europe from frozen fish sticks to mac and cheese to shampoo to
glass cleaner has a white label with nutritional information,
preparation instructions and warnings as well as the name of the
manufacturer in Kazakh and Russian (it’s especially amusing when the
preparation instructions are different from the original). So I’m not
sure how this tin of fish slipped through the cracks. Interesting to
see how this turns out.

As the Eurasianet article points out, chances are the buyer knew what
to do with the fish and this law suit is probably designed to just
raise attention to the contentious issue of Kazakh language use in


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