[lg policy] Re: lgpolicy-list Digest, Vol 108, Issue 14

Bridget Goodman bridget.goodman at nu.edu.kz
Thu Apr 12 12:21:57 EDT 2018

Re: Legislating Letters: Kazakhstan?s Alphabetical Experiment

With all due respect to the emerging scholar writing for Brown University,
Nazarbayev has already backed away from the use of appostrophes in the new
alphabet (if not the choice to Latinize)--in part in response to active and
vocal protests from community members--

Also, in official discourse (
Nazarbayev says that the move to Latinize

"is a change driven by the specific requirements of the modern
technological environment, of communications and science and education in
the 21st century. 2025 is not far off, and the Government needs to have a
clear timetable for the transition of the Kazakh language to the Latin
alphabet. In our schools, all children learn English. This uses the Latin
alphabet. It means that there will be no problems for young people."

Thus, while this rationale is questionnable in terms of costs and benefits
and outcomes, it is apparently more oriented to "modernization" and the
increasing push to facilitate learning of English than a move away from
memories of Stalin.

It is worth noting on this point that since 1995, Russian has been an
official language that can be used in administrative settings in
Kazakhstan, a language of interethnic communication with ethnic minorities,
and a wider language of community in central and northern (and a times
southern) areas of the country. It is also intended in trilingual education
policy to have two subjects taught to students in Russian regardless of
their dominant medium of instruction. Thus, use of Russian in society will
continue and will continue to be in Cyrillic for some time. Perhaps the
change of Kazakh script appeases those Kazakh nationalists who still feel
their language was and is oppressed. Empirical research on attitudes and
ideologies about script choice in Kazakhstan is needed to verify this,

Bridget Goodman, PhD
Assistant Professor and Director, MA in Multilingual Education Program
Graduate School of Education
Nazarbayev University
Kabanbay Batyr Avenue 53
010000 Astana
+7 (7172) 69-49-50
bridget.goodman at nu.edu.kz
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