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The People of Kazakhstan, Languages

Kipchak, Turkic languages, Kazakh language, Latin script, Supreme Soviet

The official language of Kazakhstan is Kazakh, which belongs to the Kipchak (or Western Turkic) branch of the Turkic languages. The Kazakh language developed originally in the Arabic script, but in 1928 the Soviet government mandated a switch to the Latin (or Roman) alphabet. Then in 1940 the Soviet authorities imposed a modified Cyrillic alphabet (the script of the Russian language). The Kazakh government is considering reverting back to the Latin script.

Russian is the most widely spoken language in Kazakhstan and the primary language of interethnic communication. Most Russians do not know the Kazakh language, while many Kazakhs have a working knowledge of Russian. During the Soviet period, Russian was the primary language of instruction in most schools, and knowledge of Russian was necessary to acquire skilled jobs. Beginning in the late 1980s it became more important for residents to learn and speak Kazakh. In 1989 the Supreme Soviet (legislature) of Kazakhstan adopted legislation making Kazakh the official language of the republic, and the constitution of 1993 ratified this designation. Government officials may use Russian for administrative purposes.

Article key phrases:

Kipchak, Turkic languages, Kazakh language, Latin script, Supreme Soviet, Soviet government, Arabic script, skilled jobs, Russian language, official language, Russians, legislature, constitution, republic, designation, Kazakhstan, schools, Government officials, legislation, switch, branch, residents


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