No more drama anymore! Or why the question of switching to Latin alphabet has already become vapid

imageThe question of switching to Latin alphabet is still very disputable in our country. And this issue has two sides of the coin as well as two groups as for and against. However, according to the policymakers, the decision has been made. And now by the help of some excerpts from their speeches I’m going to tell you why there is no more need to raise this question up.

  • “By 2025, the Kazakh alphabet should be switched into Latin and the work in this direction should be done now,” (Nazarbayev, 2012).

By this short sentence, one can understand that the decision has already been made. By the help of the highlighted words, I suppose the President wanted to set the tone. Of course, one can argue that even if any boss would make just a “friendly request”, the “tone” of the request may still convey the message of command. This speech was made in 2012, by giving time limitations he sets the clear goals. Also, one can understand the hidden message of this sentence as the President directly instructs the parliament what to do and when to do. “And the work in this direction should be done now” in this part two sides can be considered, firstly, he expects them (parliament) to give him report on work that has been already done, on the other hand by saying “should” instead of “have to” or “must” he emphasizes his understanding that this is difficult task and he does not expect from them “full” report, but something should be done by now. Also, it can be understood by the time which is given to complete the task, 13 years starting from that point.

  • “For the future of our children, we have to make that decision, which will create the conditions for our integration into the world. For our children, it will assist in a better learning of English, and most importantly, it will give impetus to the modernization of the Kazakh language,” (Nazarbayev, 2012).

Knowing that this is the controversial issue in our society, the President used three major points which are valuable for any citizen of Kazakhstan. By giving the words “future and children” in one phrase, he called the attention of any parent to this issue. In the era of globalisation the role that the English language has is huge, and nowadays it is a “magic word” to guide the parents in our country, and even the President uses it. The next two points were very smart moves as saying “integration into the world” and “modernization of the Kazakh language” he killed two birds with one stone. When the society is divided into two groups as those who are willing to be a part of the globalized world and those who are struggling for the future of Kazakh language and somehow promote the policy of “kazakhization”, the President reassured both sides.

  • “The Program on the transition of Kazakh language to Latin alphabet has been already adopted, and it will operate on the schedule,” (Mukhamediuly, 2015).

The Minister of Culture and Sports is not the only person who is responsible for the implementation of this task about the transition to Latin alphabet. But here he emphasises the issue that this is not just the case, but a Program and much work has been already done. He also shows that there is a timeline set for this task and they will continue to work on that graph no matter what.

  • “At the moment, scientists work on the issue, and it is proposed to enter Latin alphabet on a keyboard, that we have. However, national features of the pronunciation of Kazakh language require additional decisions. It is not simple, we need to integrate to the international community through the less painful way,” he highlighted (Mukhamediuly, 2015).

From this passage, it can be seen that something has gone wrong or at least did not go according to the plan. Because the minister trying to send the message that this is a time consuming project. It also can be seen from the second part of passage, “through the less painful way”, he tries to explain that integration would not be easy and it deserves more time and attention than they planned.

  • I have set the task of turning the Kazakh culture into a well-recognized segment of the global cultural space,” (Nazarbayev, 2013).

Using the pronoun “I” instead of “We” can easily be considered as an indicator of self-focus. However, knowing the personality of our president, we can assume that sometimes he makes decisions that are not welcomed by the society or the decisions which are difficult to understand for the society. And he carries that weight. Despite the fact that we are already in the list of top 50 developed countries, the Kazakh culture still remains unfamiliar for the most of the world. And here is the clear goal to rectify this situation.

  • “This move should not be viewed as a demonstration of Kazakhstan’s geopolitical preferences. We look toward multi-vector development and humanitarian and cultural contacts with all states,” (Nazarbayev, 2013).

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, many people expected (some desired) the Kazakh language to replace the Russian language quickly and easily. But it did not happen. Even after 25 years of independence, the Russian language is still somehow dominant language in our country. By this reason, many started to think that the program of transition to Latin alphabet is politically motivated. However, the first and foremost goal of Kazakhstan is to integrate into a globalised world and be a part of it. “Multi-vector development” implies the development of all spheres and conducting good relationships with all states. Here the plurilingual approach of the President can be seen.

In general, all these discourses are positive. And it is very important regarding global science and education to not get left behind. As switching to Latin alphabet will not only foster our integration to the global arena but also trigger foreigners to get acquainted with our culture and traditions.


Kazakh language to be converted to Latin alphabet – MCS RK. (2015, January 30). Retrieved from

Kazakhstan denies switch to Latin script ‘political’. (2013, January 18). Retrieved from

Zhantaykyzy, M. (2013, January 23). Kazakh Language to Use Latin Alphabet by 2025, President Says.  Retrieved from

photo credits to

7 thoughts on “No more drama anymore! Or why the question of switching to Latin alphabet has already become vapid

  1. Very impressive work, uaxi! Thank you for the detailed discourse analysis and the little historical overview of the development of languages in Kazakhstan. However, what is your final position? Shouldn’t we discuss this issue because the decision is already made by authorities or because the switch to Latin alphabet is justified enough? Just curious, no drama behind my question.


    1. Thank you for this interesting post, Uaxi
      (Can I raise some drama as compared to Maria?)
      How do you think, is the amount of money requred to transition from Cyrillic to Latin alphabet significant? I believe that this money would have been more useful if it was used to improve the situation of education of our country such as financing rural schools or increasing teacher salaries. What is your opinion on this matter?


  2. @uaxi, this is a tremendous work! However you don’t push us to make a hot discussion here. So let me ask you some questions. How do you think, will the status of Kazakh increase as it turns to latin alphabet? Or will the number of Kazakh learners will somehow grow? And last, will this transformation attract foreigners to learn Kazakh?


  3. Dear, @mariaminu, @soothsayer, @khakim kenzhetayev, first of all thank you very much for your interest in this topic and spending your time reading my blog. In the era of globalization and integration I think that this switch is justified enough. I am also more than interested in the amount of money that would spend on this issue as it doesn’t seem to be cheap. However, the issue is not about money, but rather in the result of this input. I do not think that we are trying to switch to Latin alphabet and spend the last money that we have, that is why the issues you have mentioned above will be considered too in near future, I hope. I don’t think that this issue will somehow affect on the status of Kazakh language and its attractiveness for foreigners. Let’s hope it would be the right decision for our country.


  4. Thank you, @uaxi for raising such a controversial topic on your blog! Personally, I am very sceptical about transition from Cyrillic to Latin alphabet, since it seems to me too questionable issue. What are the benefits of this transition? Will it be easier to learn the Kazakh language? Will the youth of our country get an access to the masterpieces of the Kazakh writers which were written in Latin alphabet? Will the status of the Kazakh language rise? And I suppose the answer is NO. So, why there is a need for the transition? Moreover, millions even billions of dollars will be spent not on social needs of the population, but on controversial reform with its unpredictable consequences.


  5. From @gulnarbakytzhanova: Dear Abylay, thank you for raising this “vapid” question. It is true that this question is being discussed by many people: some people support this shifting, and some people are against, and the others even do not know what is going on. I think the merit reasons for changing alphabet should be explained because now the nation of our country are unaware why this changing is going to happen, and this unawareness is raising these arguments. Personally, I suppose there are a number of things which are more important than the alphabet, so we should firstly deal with them. Also, I don’t think the Kazakhstani nation is ready for it, and I can’t see any preparations for shifting to the Latin alphabet.


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