It is important to analyze and raise the points of linguistic human rights, linguistic imperialism, and the role of language in the Kazakhstan’s context due to diversity of the people of Kazakhstan and the postcolonial past of our country.
I would like to begin with the book which was written by Derrida in 1998 “The monolingualism of the other.” Derrida (1998) has analyzed his relationship to the French language, acculturation as an Algerian with respect to his experience of language acquisition (French, Arabic). He says that he has no mother-tongue because he grew up in a colonized country speaking and learning French in Algeria. Therefore, he never had a mother-tongue language in relation to his national identity. Therefore, Derrida states that “he only has one language yet it is not his.” He described the issues of multiculturalism, cultural, linguistic identity in the context of colonialism. This book has generated a great discussion among different scholars, including Denise Egea-Kuehne (1999). According to Denise Egea-Kuehne (1999), not all minority groups seek assimilation. Some of them tend to maintain their culture and language to the next generation. However, minorities have to use the dominant language of a country they live in. For instance, Africans in North America have to speak English only. The first African writers were considered as people who did not have enough attributes, qualities of men. It was due to an endless fight for their independence with dictators. Denise Egea-Kuehne (1999) describes the progress of linguistic rights in education, the dominance of English in the USA context. Thus, the American law on linguistic rights is rather vague. On the contrary, the situation in Europe is more systematic in terms of linguistic rights. According to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1996), linguistic minorities shall not be deprived from their own culture and language.
Gail Prasad (2014) conducted a research on linguistic and cultural identities of children, youth in one of the Canadian schools which supports plurilingualism. Students reflected their feelings, beliefs on languages, and culture through self-portraits where they represented their identities. This helps teachers to identify the students’ plurilingual repertoires. Some students identified themselves as French, German, English speakers, others as Korean, English, French speakers and etc. According to Gail Prasad (2014), the visual methodologies encouraged learners to express themselves without limiting students to communicate in a language.
The Republic of Kazakhstan is a diverse, postcolonial, multilingual country which is currently implementing the new language policy. The diversity of people of Kazakhstan can be seen as a resource which should be supported by the government. In accordance with the Constitution, the Law on Languages, the Law on Education, the government provides and creates favorable conditions to study in all the languages of multiethnic people. Each ethnic group has the right to build its own cultural identity which in a way contributes to the development and the revival of the languages, traditions, and cultures. However, there are some concern regarding graduates of minority schools who must take the entrance examination to university in Kazakh or Russian languages as well as they don’t have an opportunity to study in their native language. I believe that a greater awareness of minority groups, languages will help stakeholders shape and formulate an adequate language policy to create favorable conditions for minority groups in the Kazakhstani context.
Jacques Derrida, Monolingualism of the Other: Or, The Prosthesis of Origin . Trans. Patrick Mensah. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1998.
Egea-Kuehne (1999) Derrida’s Le Monolinguisme de l’Autre: Linguistic Educational Rights File: Philosophy of Education, 1999
Prasad, G. (2014). “Portraits of Plurilingualism in a French International School in
Toronto: Exploring the role of the visual methods to access students’ representations of
their linguistically diverse identities.” Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 17 (1),