Kazakhstan backtracks on move from Cyrillic to Roman alphabet?

The president of Kazakhstan has announced that his country won’t “advance the transformation of the Kazakh alphabet from the Cyrillic to Latin one.”

That he did so in a meeting with the president of Turkey is puzzling, as this is not something likely to please the Turks.

On the other hand, not advancing is not necessarily the same thing as cancelling.

Here’s the full release from Kazakhstan’s news agency:

Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev offered not to advance the transformation of the Kazakh alphabet from the Cyrillic to Latin one. The Head of the State announced about it upon the results of his talks with President of Turkey Abdullah Gul.

“For 70 years the Kazakhstanis read and wrote in Cyrillic. More than 100 nationalities live in our state. Thus we need stability and peace. We should be in no hurry in the issue of alphabet transformation”, Mr. Nazarbayev noted.

source: Kazakhstan should be in no hurry in Kazakh alphabet transformation to Latin: Nazarbayev, Kazinform, December 13, 2007

See earlier: Kazakhstan plans switch to Latin alphabet, Pinyin News, November 18, 2007

8 thoughts on “Kazakhstan backtracks on move from Cyrillic to Roman alphabet?

  1. This makes more sense, it’s one thing to have an official transliteration into Latin (which makes sense) and it’s quite another to switch scripts for reasons that … aren’t very convincing at all. For better or worse, written traditions in Kazakh have more history in Cyrillic than any other script. If people _want_ to read and write in latin script no one should stop them, but it’s a process that needs to work up from the grass roots level upwards and not be imposed from above.

  2. I just hope that if they ever do make an official switch and start promoting the Latin alphabet that they devise a linguistically sound orthography for Kazakh in the Latin script. The current Latin alphabet for Uzbek is a mess. I think Turkic languages should use something similar to the Turkish Latin alphabet.
    As it is, though, the Cyrillic alphabet works fine for Kazakh so it would take a lot to change it. Usually if something is working fine there is no reason to change it.
    Personally if they ever did decide to change the alphabet I would rather see a unique Kazakh writing system created. Nothing works better for languages than if a writing system is developed specifically for that language. Hindi and Korean are good examples of that.

  3. The only problem with uzbek I think is they distinguish two kinds of apostrophe (and the wordbreaks are confusing with the apostrophe instead of an accent o’zbek instead of ózbek)

    The current official romanization of Kazakh seems to be 99.99 % a transliteration of the current cyrillic orthography except that the Russian ‘hard sign’ is eliminated (certainly no loss I think).

  4. Just because Turkey uses a Latin based alphabet doesn’t necessarily make them keen to see others adopt one (although that may indeed be the case- I don’t know). There is certainly a case to be made against alphabetic imperialism.

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