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Kazakhstan Takes Decisive Step Toward Adopting the Latin Alphabet

Children in Kazakhstan learn the English alphabet in July 2017. The new-look Kazakh alphabet will be identical to the English alphabet, except for the lack of the letter “x.” The goal is ostensibly to create a neater fit between the written and spoken Kazakh language, as well as to make learning English easier. (Photo: Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Education)

Kazakhstan’s long-awaited transition from the Cyrillic to the Latin alphabet may be on the verge of happening.
 
Lawmakers in early September considered a preliminary proposal for a 25-letter Kazakh alphabet that will eventually lead to phasing out of the 42 Cyrillic symbols currently in use. The government’s goal is ostensibly to streamline the alphabet and create a neater fit between the written and spoken language, but many commentators are determined to see the change in grander terms. Some even see a plot to nudge Kazakhstan away from Russia’s cultural influence.
 
Speaking at a session of parliament on September 11, Nurlan Nigmatulin, the speaker of the lower house, said what was happening was more than just a change of script. “Latinization should help [the Kazakh language] become a powerful factor of spiritual regeneration and empower national identity,” he said.
 

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Aktan Rysaliev is a pseudonym for a journalist working in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan Takes Decisive Step Toward Adopting the Latin Alphabet

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