Recently, I have read a thought-provoking citation “don’t know the language of living country can only a guest, an idiot or an occupant”. For the first sight it seems like a joke but each joke has a piece of truth. If I am not mistaken in our country the state language is Kazakh but in reality in society even couple of days I don’t hear any word in Kazakh needless to say a speech. So, according to the citation, who are we?
After getting independence the usage of Kazakh language in society became one of the crucial problems in country. Obviously, re-establishment of Kazakh language in society was not easy task taking into consideration the seventy-year control of the Soviet Union. Except the historical background the government had to take into account the ethnic diversity, minority and majority groups in Kazakhstan before establishing the language policy. Therefore, even now, after twenty years of independence, the status of Kazakh language in society is not resistant and strong. After analyzing the situation it can be seen that one of the main impediment in enhancing Kazakh language status in society is the deep Soviet heritage. Unfortunately, it is not the whole picture. The most dismal truth that, not to mention other nationalities, but even Kazakhs themselves are not eager to speak or to learn Kazakh language (here I don’t mean all of them but the majority). According to Fishman (1969) after gaining independence most of post-colonial countries continue to use language of colonial power as a language of wider communication or it also can be a means for elites to preserve colonial language and culture in the country. In Kazakhstan nowadays Russian language is not just language of interethnic communication but also is associated with prestige and remains as a dominant language of public domains while Kazakh language is used in household level.
In addition, such language discrepancy in society is creating a barrier between Kazakh and Russian speaker as language shapes our way of thinking and viewpoint. It can be clearly exemplified by the residents of North and South Kazakhstan. Even though we confirm that the majority of people in our country are bilingual, in reality the numbers of people who can speak in Kazakh and Russian fluently are limited.
To sum up, the status, Kazakh language has, prestige, Kazakh language doesn’t have are crucial issues. In my opinion each person has to ask himself a question “Who am I in this country?”, a guest, an idiot or an occupant who doesn’t need to learn state language or a competent citizen who respects his country, its laws and other citizens. The choice is yours…..
Fishman, J. (1969). Bilingual education, language planning and English. English World–Wide, 1(1).