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Astana, Kazakhstan • 26 August, 2022 | 08:58
2 min read

President on Latin Alphabet: 'Language Cannot Be Treated With Neglect'

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev urged to slow down transition at Kurultai

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On June 16, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev gave a speech at the first meeting of the National Kurultai, Akorda press service reports. One of the points the President addressed was the transition of the Kazakh language from Cyrillic to the Latin alphabet.

We have already tried twice to switch to the Latin script. But unsuccessfully.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev

"There is another important issue concerning the language. We are talking about the transition to the Latin alphabet. Some members of the public are concerned that we still cannot abandon the Cyrillic alphabet. But first of all, this is a very complicated linguistic issue. This, too, should be understood. We have already tried twice to switch to the Latin script. But unsuccessfully. Therefore, it is necessary to conduct a comprehensive, in-depth analysis of this issue and make a radical decision," said Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

The head of state noted that there should be no rush to make an artificial switch from the Cyrillic to the Latin alphabet by simply changing the corresponding letters:

"The main thing is that citizens, especially our youth, must know the correct order of how the words are written in Latin letters, which means it is necessary to review the rules for spelling. For example, the letter "Ы" is a common letter in the majority of original Kazakh words in the Cyrillic script. If you automatically copy this letter into the Latin alphabet, the English letter "Y" appears in each corresponding word. This is wrong. Our Turkic-speaking brethren find it difficult to read words where the letter "Ы" frequently appears - take, for example, the word "тыныштық" [silence, "tynyshtyq"]. This is why I have instructed the Academy of Sciences to conduct special research on the new orthography of the Kazakh language. Only then will we be able to talk about switching to the Latin alphabet."

We must not hurry. It is enough to look at the inscriptions on billboards on the streets and the names of ministries. Our language is distorted. Frankly speaking, it seems repugnant to the nature of the Kazakh language, unnatural and even ridiculous. We do not need such superficial language reform. We need a real reform. Language is the soul of the nation. It cannot be treated with neglect. Therefore, we will accept only the script that will raise the quality of our language. 

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
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