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Kazakhstan: Latin Alphabet Is Not a New Phenomenon Among Turkic Nations

People in Central Asia study the differences between a Cyrillic alphabet and the so-called Yangälif, a common Latin alphabet introduced for most of the Turkic languages of the Soviet Union in the 1920s-1930s. Individual Cyrillic alphabets were introduced for Soviet Turkic languages in the 1930s-1940s, replacing Yangälif. (Photo: Public Domain)

Kazakhstan’s planned transition to the Latin alphabet raises complex questions. While alphabets may not be important in and of themselves, they play an important role in helping define a nation’s place in the world.
 
As a Turkologist, I regularly teach a range of historical Turkic languages using the runiform Turkic alphabet, the Uyghur alphabet, the Arabic alphabet and others. Turkologists also study various Turkic languages written in the Syriac alphabet, the Armenian alphabet, the Hebrew alphabet, the Greek alphabet and others.
 
Stated briefly, you can use a lot of different alphabets to write Turkic languages. From a technical point of view, it is just a question of how accurately any particular alphabet represents speech sounds.
 

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Uli Schamiloglu is a professor in the Department of Kazakh Language and Turkic Studies at Nazarbayev University in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan: Latin Alphabet Is Not a New Phenomenon Among Turkic Nations

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