The status of Russian language in Kazakhstan has been a topic of heated debates among the general public as well as in the government since getting independence in 1991. Nevertheless, the topic of discussions seems to have changed recently from the official status to predicting the future of Russian in Kazakhstan.
Some say the prospects of Russian are stable and its role does not seem to wane, while others predict that Russian in Kazakhstan will lose its ground. One of those who conform to the latter opinion, a secondary school teacher Ayatzhan Akhmetzhanuly, caused some outbreak among Russian speakers by his article “I pity those who send their children to Russian medium schools” (2017). The growth in the number of Kazakh medium schools, a decrease in the number of the Russian in the country, and the growing popularity of English are his arguments for Russian becoming unpopular and unnecessary in Kazakhstan in the future. Although he claims that he only operates with facts to show that Kazakh language is becoming dominant in the society, you can notice aggressiveness and ill feeling towards Russian in his tone:
“To tell the truth, there is no trilingual program at all; although it is called trilingual, we understand that, in fact, it is a bilingual program. The president says that Kazakh will be a dominant language and develop further. And if that happens how will the third language, which is English, develop. Of course, at the expense of Russian”. (Abai.kz July 12, 2017)
The same idea about Russian being replaced by English under trilingual policy is put forward in yvision.kz in 2017:
“It can be noticed that in Kazakhstan Russian language is being gradually substituted by English in business and education. Even now all top universities in Kazakhstan instruct in English”. (yvision.kz July 7, 2017)
“… prospects of Russian language in Kazakhstan are obscure. Kazakhstan is a unitary country. Thus, involuntary trilingualism will not work here, as it is superfluous, ineffective and unpractical.” (yvision.kz July 7, 2017).
However, some politologists are more optimistic about the future of Russian language in Kazakhstan. Eduard Poletayev, for example, claims that although the number of Russian-speakers in Kazakhstan is falling, the proportion of communication in Russian is still high. Another politologist Petr Svoik holds an interesting view that even if all the Russian disappeared in Kazakhstan, Russian would still be kept here for at least half a century. Politologist Zamir Karazhanov gives three reasons for Kazakhstani people to need Russian: firstly, Russia is our big neighbor; secondly, Kazakhstan is a multinational country; thirdly, Russia is one of the biggest economies in the world, and is a big market for us.
There is truth in the arguments for both opinions, but I am inclined to think that people in Kazakhstan will not stop using Russian widely at least in the nearest future. What are your opinions?
Amir Zhanuzakov. (2017, 9 September). Shto zhdet russki v Kazkahstane – mneniya ekspertov [What does future hold for Russian in Kazakhstan – experts’ opinions] Retrieved from: https://365info.kz/2017/09/chto-zhdet-russkij-yazyk-v-kazahstane-mneniya-ekspertov/
Ayatzhan Ahmetzhanuly. (2017, 12 July). Balasyn orys synyptaryna beretinderge jany ashidy [I pity those who send their children to Russian-medium schools]. Retrieved from http://abai.kz/post/55806
Budushchee Kazakhstana bez russkogo yazyka? [Future of Kazakhstan without Russian language?]. (2017, 7 July). Retrieved from https://yvision.kz/post/763658