Who are we in this country?

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…..


Image from: http://altaynews.kz/kaz/7494-memlekettik-tildi-mengergen-ozge-ult-zhastarynyn-forumy-shemonaihada-otedi.html

Fishman, J. (1969). Bilingual education, language planning and English. English World–Wide, 1(1).




8 thoughts on “Who are we in this country?

  1. Thank you, Gulzhaina for sharing! I agree that each of us as citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan should speak Kazakh. I think that if a person does not speak Russian or Kazakh it does not create any barriers in communication. I also don’t think that we don’t have many bilinguals….We still have bilinguals even trilingual people who are able to speak Kazakh, Russian,and English.
    I agree with you that the status of Kazakh should be improved.
    FYI I am Kazakh and i would love to learn the Kazalkh language!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Gulzhaina and Aigerim,

      Thank you for the post and a comment. I agree with the words that the Kazakh language is important to know nowadays. As a resident of the Northen part of Kazakhstan, I would like to jump in and say my word about this issue. I disagree with an assimilationist discourse that may be seen in some of the statements presented above, and which is aimed to make everyone to do something without taking into account an individual’s choice. It would be better to look at this issue from the pluralistic view, which supports diversity and the right of choice in order to make everyone decide when, how, and what language to speak. Since we live in a multicultural and peaceful country, let’s continue showing the positive attitude towards this case.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dear Ayana,

        Thank you for your comment and sharing your opinion. According to your comments, I would like to clarify some statements in my article. Firstly, I completely agree with individual’s choice and with the concern that each person has a right to speak in any language in any part of the world without any discrimination. Moreover, I am aware that with force and obligation you can not solve any issue. Therefore, in my article, I just intended to highlight the importance of reminding citizens to consciously respect state language and to speak and to communicate voluntarily in the Kazakh language as the competent citizens of this country. Secondly, I agree that as the multinational country, it is important to respect each other but not with the cost of the state language.


  2. Dear, gulzhaina13

    Thank you so much for raising this question…
    Being a person who without any doubt can really say:
    If my language rises, I rise with it;
    If my language dies, I die with it,- I can say that the issue of Kazakh language is of pivotal importance to me. However, I disagree with you on some points. First, please notice that the research conducted by Fishman was in 1969, and now more than 40 years have passed. And I can definitely say that in these 40 years many things have changed according to language policy and language planning in our country. Also, I would like to dispute that the Kazakh language is used at the household level, on the contrary, the Kazakh language is used in many domains in our society. It is worth mentioning that as an educator you are mostly in a multilingual environment, and maybe that is the reason why you think that Russian is still dominant in our country. As a person who traveled all over the Kazakh steppes, I advocate that Kazakh is the dominant language in our country!
    Seeing in you the defender of the Kazakh language I would recommend you to watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wimIWcy9q_0

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Ablay,

    Thank you too for your comment and I appreciate each person’s position. I also want to answer to your arguments. Regarding Fishman’s research, I used his theory in order to justify my theory about the postcolonial countries and I don’t deem that his theory outdated because some brilliant ideas which were written even several centuries ago didn’t lose its value and can be vital in any time. In terms of Kazakh language level, as you mentioned it is used dominantly in “the Kazakh steppes”. Moreover, even though the number of people who speak in the Kazakh language is increasing it doesn’t mean that the quantity complies the quality.
    P.S Thank you for sharing with the video. I have watched it and I got some a piece of positive view for the future of Kazakh language.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow. Thank you all for the energetic and civil discourse represented in the post and subsequent comments. Gulzhaina, you have touched on an important area of discussion in modern-day Kazakhstan. I would also like to sincerely commend you all for the way in which you discuss (and disagree about!) sensitive issues like this one. Let’s keep the conversation going! (5/5)


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