Script differences complicate matters for Uzbeks in Kyrgyzstan

Ethnic Uzbeks in southern Kyrgyzstan are reportedly suffering from problems with the education system, including that Uzbekistan has switched to the Latin alphabet but Kyrgyzstan has not.

Kyrgyzstan is home to more than 766,000 ethnic Uzbeks out of an overall population of roughly 5 million, according to figures compiled by the State Statistics Committee. Although their numbers are slowly declining, Uzbeks remain the largest minority group in the country. Today, there are just 14 Uzbek language schools in Osh, compared with 21 in 1991….

A shortage of Uzbek-language textbooks and teaching materials constitutes another large obstacle. Many children in Uzbek-language schools must use textbooks that were published in Uzbekistan during the Soviet era. “The situation [became] complicated after Uzbekistan changed from using Cyrillic and started using the Latin [alphabet] in 1993,” explained Erkin Bainzarov, the editor of the Uzbek section of the Osh Shamy (“Evening Osh”) newspaper. “As a result, Kyrgyzstan’s Uzbek schools were forced to stop using textbooks published by Tashkent,” and must rely on antiquated materials. Teachers in Kyrgyzstan have not adapted to the Latin alphabet.

To help, the Kyrgyz-Uzbek University, the only university in the country to provide instruction in Uzbek, established a Textbook Development Center in 1997 with the help of Batyrov’s Friendship of Peoples University in Jalalabad.

“Since Uzbekistan switched to Latin, we started developing our own [Uzbek] textbooks [written in Cyrillic],” said Tursunbai Kamilov, the director of the center. “Since 1997, we have developed a set of seven textbooks for the primary school and 20 textbooks for secondary and high schools.” Yet more is needed. Kamilov says that due to inadequate financing, Uzbek schools only have 34 percent of the textbooks they need.

Some representatives of the Uzbek community say that if current trends persist, southern Kyrgyzstan’s Uzbek-language educational structure could experience a complete collapse. “We have to maintain our schools, and have our children go to Uzbek language schools to preserve our language, culture and identity,” said Khalturaev, the school principal.

source: Kyrgyzstan: Uzbeks in Southern Regions Wrestle with Cultural Dilemma, Eurasianet, October 27, 2009

further reading:

Kyrgyzstan won’t switch to Roman alphabet yet: report

High-ranking Kyrgyz officials are now reportedly saying that having Kyrgyzstan switch from the Cyrillic to the Roman alphabet would cost more money than the country can afford for the project at present. A later switch has not been ruled out.

sources:

Kyrgyzstan may join trend, adopt the Roman alphabet

Asel translates and summarizes remarks by Tashboo Jumagulov (?????? ?????????), chairman of Kyrgyzstan’s state language commission, and Kyrgyz legislator Zainidin Kurmanov (???????? ????????) on the possibility of Kyrgyzstan switching from the Cyrillic to the Roman alphabet, which was recently discussed in the Kyrgyz parliament.

Both Jumagulov and Kurmanov seem to regard the switch as inevitable, though the latter voiced concern that the switch is done carefully and not rushed.

Kyrgyzstan is not to be confused with its neighbor, Kazakhstan, which has been seesawing on its own proposed switch to the Roman alphabet.

sources:

On Kazakhstan’s proposed switch:

Dungan-language radio

The state radio station of Kyrgyzstan offers a weekly broadcast in Dungan, which is basically a spin-off of northwestern Mandarin with lots of loan words from Persian, Arabic, and Russian. Of particular interest is that the language — which, permit me to note again, is basically Mandarin — is written with an alphabet (at present, one based on the Cyrillic alphabet). Chinese characters are of course not necessary and are not used. For details of the language, script, and people, see Implications of the Soviet Dungan Script for Chinese Language Reform, by Victor H. Mair, and Ethnolinguistic Notes on the Dungan, by Lisa E. Husmann and William S-Y. Wang (available online in Schriftfestschrift: Essays in Honor of John DeFrancis on His Eightieth Birthday, pp. 71-84).

The Dungan radio show is broadcast on Mondays between 6:35 and 7:05 p.m., Taipei time (4:35-5:05 a.m. U.S. central standard time). The show usually starts closer to 6:40 and ends about 7:03.

I made a recording of the latest broadcast (Dec. 31, 2007): Dungan radio broadcast (23 MB mp3).

[Here’s another: Dungan radio broadcast, January 14, 2008 (23 MB mp3).]

I mainly understand words, not entire sentences, though my comprehension improves a little with repeated listenings.

This Kyrgyz radio station (?????????? ?????) is available through at least three different Internet links:

  1. www.radio.kg/RadioKTR.asx
  2. www.radio.kg/RadioKTR.ram
  3. mms://212.42.102.212:8554/RadioKTR, which is what you get by using the “Kyrgyz radio” link on the Web site for the State Broadcast Company of the Kyrgyz Republic

I have had the best luck with link no. 1.

I made the recording with Total Recorder for Windows and edited it in Audacity.

I’ve heard that Mac users can get good results with Audio Hijack.