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What are your thoughts on the new Kazakh Latin script?

3 days ago (October 26, 2017), the new Latin script for the Kazakh language was published. This script is going to be fully implemented in Kazakhstan by 2025, according to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Here is the alphabet table with corresponding Cyrillic:

In this new alphabet, there are no letters with diacritics or dots. Instead, apostrophes are used extensively in their places. They are similar in usage to Uzbek's letters G' g' and O' o'. Letters like Ç, Ş and Ü and Ö that were once used for Kazakh are now replaced with C', S', U' and O', respectively.

Here's a sample of Kazakh in both scripts:

  • Cyrillic: Барлық адамдар тумысынан азат және қадір-қасиеті мен кұқықтары тең болып дүниеге келеді. Адамдарға ақыл-парасат, ар-ождан берілген, сондықтан олар бір-бірімен туыстық, бауырмалдық қарым-қатынас жасаулары тиіс.
  • New Latin: Barlyq adamdar ty'mysynan azat ja'ne qadir-qasi'yeti men kuqyqtary ten' bolyp du'ni'ege keledi. Adamdarg'a aqyl-parasat, ar-ojdan berilgen, sondyqtan olar bir-birimen ty'ystyq, bay'yrmaldyq qarym-qatynas jasay'lary ti'is.

That being said, what are your thoughts on this new script? Personally, I find it will take some time to get used to (and 8 years is probably a good time to adjust) and I don't find it as cool-looking as the Kazakh Cyrillic script. However, I think I will probably come around it some day or another. It's an interesting take on the Latin script for Kazakh.

How about you?

October 29, 2017



How interesting; thank you for posting. More information is available here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kazakh_alphabets

I don’t presume to offer an opinion on how Kazakh people should write their own language, except to say that this transformation project will no doubt be expensive and will impose social costs in terms of general literacy for some time during and after the transition.


How can anyone who doesn't know Kazakh say? Saw it earlier. If the alphabet matches the language's sounds well enough, it ought to work out and should be no problem for people who are new to writing the language. It'll be tough for older people who are used to the Cyrillic script to change over.


actually, it used to be written in latin script, but then the russians changed it to cyrillic. So maybe it wont be that weird for the older generation.


Russians changed it from Arabic to Latin in 1927 (they were expecting a world communist revolution and apparently thought that Latin script would be the universally used one rather soon). By 1940 they realized that the world revolution is not going to happen and changed the script again, now to Cyrillic. So those from the older generation who could remember Kazakh in Latin script must be at least 80 years old.

This whole ordeal happened not only to Kazakh language, but to other languages (in the USSR) that used Arabic script before 1917 as well.


So that will leave Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan as the only former Central Asian union republics to still use Cyrillic? Given the closeness between Kazakh and Kyrgyz, I'd be curious to see whether Kyrgyzstan follows its neighbor.


It wouldn't surprise me honestly. I'm curious to see what spin on the Latin script Kyrgyzstan would use, given that it has short and long vowels. Will they be written them two times like Finnish? Will they be replaced with a vowel and acute accent? Or macron? I'm curious to see what Kyrgyzstan would do for a Latin script.


Kyrgyz authorities already declared that they won't change our alphabet in the near future due to the lack of funding. I am curious too how would our alphabet look like in latin script version.


I think it's a bad idea to replace an alphabet with a near one-to-one correspondence between character and sound with one in which nine letters are only distinguished by apostrophes. Apostrophes, even more so than diacritics, are generally the first things to be left out in casual writing, with the result that the language gets less and less phonetic with time.
The whole thing looks to me like a vanity project of the president.


This looks a little like what happened to Azeri. From http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/1484505.stm :

... It is the fourth alphabet change in Azerbaijan in less than a century.

After writing for hundreds of years in the Arabic script, Azeris converted briefly to the Latin script in 1929.

Stalin then imposed Cyrillic in 1939.

The new change of alphabet has led to some bizarre situations.

While the Azeri Government set up an official web site to help simplify the switch and provide the Azerbaijani alphabet in Latin script for use on computers and keyboard layouts, the site was still operating in Russian only just before the switch.

But for most Azerbaijanis the change is felt mostly in the tiniest details of everyday life: now when a state employee such as the gasman comes to call, householders have to wait while he writes his name in Latin script.


Why changing the alphabet at all?


Kinda cool. I like languages with different alphabets better though.


Why? Why go from a cyrillic alphabet to a latin one in the early 21st century? Is it to make your language more available on the internet or the internet more available to your language? That is the only reason I can think of.


I guess that makes it easier for me if i ever wanted to learn kazak for some reason


The new script looks less complex for handwriting. Seems like it should be easier for kids to learn in school. Nice to see a language attempt to evolve. Most just use the idea of tradition or culture to force stagnation.

A language is a tool and all good tools change for the better over time.


> The new script looks less complex for handwriting.

How so? People who know a Cyrillic alphabet and not a Latin one would not agree, it seems to me.

> Seems like it should be easier for kids to learn in school.

In what way?


Seems like it should be easier for kids to learn in school.

All Kazakhs are taught Russian in school anyway, so all this is doing is giving them an extra script to learn.


Well, the kids probably learn the Latin alphabet anyways - they're probably taking English or German from a fairly early age in school. But this sort of transition would be easiest for them, anyways - it's the older people who are going to be challenged the most.


I'm glad Kazakhstan is switching to Latin but I don't like the alphabet, I wish they used diacritics. Plus they could have used w instead of or in addition to y'.


I really like / appreciate it! I’m an American learning Kazakh and it makes my life with the language a lot easier. I do know Cyrillic but know the Latin alphabet natively.

With that said, we really do need to hear feedback from Native speakers. It’s their language and their voices deserve the most weight.



With that said, just like it’s easier on me, it will be harder on native speakers for the same reason. It’s their language. I’m not sure why foreigners learning Kazakh can’t just take a week and learn Cyrillic. Either way, whatever native speakers decide is best.

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