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Kazakhstan to Qazaqstan: Why would a country switch its alphabet?

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The Kazakh language has lengthy been undecided which alphabet to to find a at ease house in and it is now in for every other transition – however this isn’t with out controversy.

Last Friday Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev after all decreed that the language would shed its heavy Cyrillic coat and don what he hopes to be a extra stylish apparel: the Latin alphabet.

Is this going to be simple?

No. The Latin alphabet has a ways fewer letters: There will want to be inventive mixtures with apostrophes to catch all of the sounds wanted for the Kazakh language.

Kazakhstan is in an extraordinary place: None of the alphabets that exist appear to be a very best have compatibility or have a lengthy sufficient custom to be the uncontested host for its language.

Kazakh is a Turk-based language and its historical past is political: Originally it was once written in Arabic. Enter the Soviet Union who in 1929 did away with Arabic and offered Latin – most effective to 11 years later shift to the Cyrillic alphabet to have the republic extra in step with the remainder of the united states.

The Kazakh model of Cyrillic has 33 Russian letters and 9 Kazakh ones, whilst the Latin script most effective has 26.

The giant changeover is to be legit via 2025.

Confused via all this discuss letters and characters? Before you get misplaced in translation, listed here are a few spellings of the country’s identify simply to provide you with an concept:

So why trade?

President Nursultan Nazarbayev has given a long clarification: There are many causes like of modernising Kazakhstan, but additionally made up our minds via “specific political reasons”.

Political pundits see it as step to weaken the historic ties to Russia: Shedding no longer most effective the Russian alphabet, the considering is going, but additionally the affect Moscow nonetheless likes to exert over its post-Soviet yard in central Asia.

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Image caption

President Nazarbayev’s would possibly quickly want a new signal for that desk

There also are extra quick sensible causes: The hope is that Latin letters will make it more uncomplicated to push for modernisation in a international and virtual international.

Of the opposite 4 Former Soviet Republics in Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan nonetheless use Cyrillic whilst Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are the usage of the Latin alphabet.

Will or not it’s a easy transition?

This dialogue isn’t new: The trade to the Latin alphabet has been mooted a number of instances because the country’s independence after the top of the Soviet Union, however thus far has failed to garner well-liked beef up.

Because: If even the identify of the country would trade from Kazakhstan to Qazaqstan, simply believe the potential of confusion in other people’s day-to-day lives?

Let’s take a look at the blameless carrot for an instance: The Kazakh phrase for carrot is “сәбіз” and would historically be spelled “sabeez” in Latin. In new Latin alphabet despite the fact that, it is going to finally end up as “sa’biz”.

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Image caption

Facebook customers have created the hashtag #saebiz.

This once more, is extraordinarily shut to the Latin spelling “saebiz” of the Russian phrase “заебись” – a considerably extra impolite model of “messed up”.

Not all of the mix-u.s.are as subtle as this one: But there may be abundant dialogue on-line of other people perplexed and amused via how they now must write their very own names and whether or not the trade will determine smartly nor no longer.

While some see it as a proper step out of the shadows of the Soviet previous and of provide Russian affect, others warn it is a politically motivated transfer which is able to disconnect long run generations from the country’s written previous century.

So what’s subsequent?

By the top of the 12 months there’ll a finalised legit Latin spelling. By subsequent 12 months trainer coaching is to start and new textbooks shall be evolved.

Come 2025, all legit bureaucracy and publications within the Kazakh language shall be within the new Latin script. President Nazarbayev indicated despite the fact that there would be a transition length the place Cyrillic would possibly nonetheless be used as smartly.

Given that Russian is the country’s 2nd legit language, indicators and legit paperwork will despite the fact that stay bilingual: within the Kazakh with Latin letters and in Russian with the Cyrillic alphabet.

Reporting via Andreas Illmer, Elbek Daniyarov, Azim Rakhimov and BBC Monitoring.

BBC Monitoring studies and analyses information from TV, radio, internet and print media around the globe. You can observe BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

About ShoaibAslam

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