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Kazakh
Kazak
Қазақша or қазақ тілі
قازاقشا‎ or قازاق تىلى
Qazaqşa or qazaq tili
Pronunciation[qɑzɑqˈɕɑ]
[qɑˈzɑq tɪˈlɪ]
Native toKazakhstan, China, Mongolia, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan
RegionCentral Asia
(Turkestan)
EthnicityKazakhs
Native speakers
22 million (2019)[1]
Turkic
Kazakh alphabets (Latin script, Cyrillic script, Arabic script, Kazakh Braille)
Official status
Official language in
Kazakhstan
Russia

China


Regulated byKazakh language agency
Language codes
ISO 639-1kk
ISO 639-2kaz
ISO 639-3kaz

China


Regulated byKazakh language agency
Language codes
ISO 639-1kk
ISO 639-2kaz
ISO 639-3kaz
Glottologkaza1248[3]
Linguasphere44-AAB-cc
Idioma kazajo.png
The Kazakh-speaking world:
  regions where Kazakh is the language of the majority
Latin: qazaqşa or qazaq tili, Cyrillic: қазақша or қазақ тілі, Arabic: قازاقشا‎ or قازاق تىلى‎, pronounced [qɑzɑqˈɕɑ], [qɑˈzɑq tɪˈlɪ]), is a Turkic language of the Kipchak branch spoken in Central Asia. It is closely related to Nogai, Kyrgyz and Karakalpak. Kazakh is the official language of Kazakhstan and a significant minority language in the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture in Xinjiang, China and in the Bayan-Ölgii Province of Mongolia. Kazakh is also spoken by many ethnic Kazakhs through the former Soviet Union (some 472,000 in Russia according to the 2010 Russian Census), Germany, Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan.

Like other Turkic languages, Kazakh is an agglutinative language and employs vowel harmony.

In October 2017, Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev decreed that the government would transition from using Cyrillic to the Latin alphabet by 2025.[4] President Nazarbayev signed on 19 February 2018 an amendment to the decree of 26 October 2017 No. 569 "On translating the Kazakh alphabet from Cyrillic alphabet to the Latin script."[5] The amended alphabet uses ⟨sh⟩ and ⟨ch⟩ for the Kazakh sounds /ɕ/ and /tɕ/ respectively, and eliminates the use of apostrophes.[6]

Geographic distribution

Speakers of Kazakh (mainly Kazakhs) are spread over a vast territory from the Tian Shan to the western shore of the Caspian Sea. Kazakh is the official state language of Kazakhstan, with nearly 10 million speakers (based on information from the CIA World Factbook[7] on population and proportion of Kazakh speakers).[8]

In China, nearly two million ethnic Kazakhs and Kazakh speakers reside in the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture of Xinjiang.[9]

Writing system

Kazakh Arabic and Latin script in 1924

The oldest known written records of languages closely related to Kazakh were written in the Old Turkic alphabet, though it is not believed that any of these varieties were direct predecessors of Kazakh.[10] Modern Kazakh, going back approximately one thousand years, was written in the Arabic script until 1929, when Soviet authorities introduced a Latin-based alphabet, and then a Cyrillic alphabet in 1940.[11]

Nazarbayev first brought up the topic of using the Latin alphabet instead of the Cyrillic alphabet as the official script for Kazakh in Kazakhstan in October 2006.[12][13] A Kazakh government study released in September 2007 said that a switch to a Latin script over a 10- to 12-year period was feasible, at a cost of $300 million.[14] The transition was halted temporarily on 13 December 2007, with President Nazarbayev declaring: "For 70 years the Kazakhstanis read and wrote in Cyrillic. More than 100 nationalities live in our state. Thus we need stability and peace. We should be in no hurry in the issue of alphabet transformation."[15] However, on 30 January 2015, the Minister of Culture and Sports Arystanbek Mukhamediuly announced that a transition plan was underway, with specialists working on the orthography to accommodate the phonological aspects of the language.[16] In presenting this strategic plan in April 2017, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev described the twentieth century as a period in which the "Kazakh language and culture have been devastated".[11]

Nazarbayev ordered Kazakh authorities to create a Latin Kazakh alphabet by the end of 2017, so written Kazakh could return to a Latin script starting in 2018.[17][18] As of 2018, Kazakh is written in Cyrillic in Kazakhstan and Mongolia, Kazakh is written in Latin in Kazakhstan, while more than one million Kazakh speakers in China use an Arabic-derived alphabet similar to the one that is used to write Uyghur.[10]

2018 Latin alphabet for the Kazakh language, adopted by Presidential Decree 569 (26 October 2017); Amended by Decree 637 (19 February 2018)[19]

On 26 October 2017, Nazarbayev issued Presidential Decree 569 for the change to a finalized Latin variant of the Kazakh alphabet and ordered that the government's transition to this alphabet be completed by 2025,[19][20] a decision taken to emphasise Kazakh culture after the era of Soviet rule[21] and to facilitate the use of digital devices.[22] But the initial decision to use a novel orthography employing apostrophes, which make the use of many popular tools for searching and writing text difficult, has generated controversy.[23]

The alphabet was revised the following year by Presidential Decree 637 of 19 February 2018 and the use of apostrophes was discontinued and replaced with the use of diacritics and digraphs.[24][6] However, many citizens state that the officially introduced alphabet needs much improvements. Moreover, Kazakh became the second Turkic language to use the "ch" and "sh" digraphs after the Uzbek government adapted them in their version of the Latin alphabet.

2019 version of the Kazakh Latin alphabet
The new version of the Kazakh Latin alphabet proposed in 2019

In October 2019, President Tokayev expressed his concerns about all three versions of Latin alphabet and asked linguists to propose a more thoughtful version without haste.[25][26] A new version of the alphabet, elaborated by the Baitursynov Institute of Linguistics and specialists from the official working group on script transition, was proposed in November 2019, using breves, umlauts and cedillas instead of acute accents and digraphs and introducing spelling changes to stick more accurately to Kazakh phonology.[27]

Comparison using article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Cyrillic script Arabic script "Resmı nusqa 3,0" Latin script Kazinform and Kazakh Wikipedia Latin script English translation
Барлық адамдар тумысынан азат және қадір-қасиеті мен құқықтары тең болып дүниеге келеді. بارلىق ادامدار تۋمىسىنان ازات جانە قادىر-قاسيەتى مەن قۇقىقتارى تەڭ بولىپ دۇنيەگە كەلەدى. - Barlyq adamdar týmysynan azat jáne qadir-qasıeti men quqyqtary teń bolyp dúnıege keledi. Barlıq adamdar twmısınan azat jäne qadir-qasïyeti men quqıqtarı teñ bolıp dünïyege keledi. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
Адамдарға ақыл-парасат, ар-ождан берілген, ادامدارعا اقىل پاراسات، ار-ۇجدان بەرىلگەن ، Adamdarǵa aqyl-parasat, ar-ojdan berilgen, Adamdarğa aqıl-parasat, ar-ojdan berilgen, They are endowed with reason and conscience
сондықтан олар бір-бірімен туыстық, бауырмалдық қарым-қатынас жасаулары тиіс. سوندىقتان ولار ٴبىر-بىرىمەن تۋىستىق، باۋىرمالدىق قارىم-قاتىناس جاساۋلارى ٴتيىس . sondyqtan olar bir-birimen týystyq, baýyrmaldyq qarym-qatynas jasaýlary tıis. sondıqtan olar bir-birimen twıstıq, bawırmaldıq qarım-qatınas jasawları tïis. and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Phonology

Kazakh exhibits tongue-root vowel harmony, with some words of recent foreign origin (usu

Like other Turkic languages, Kazakh is an agglutinative language and employs vowel harmony.

In October 2017, Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev decreed that the government would transition from using Cyrillic to the Latin alphabet by 2025.[4] President Nazarbayev signed on 19 February 2018 an amendment to the decree of 26 October 2017 No. 569 "On translating the Kazakh alphabet from Cyrillic alphabet to the Latin script."[5] The amended alphabet uses ⟨sh⟩ and ⟨ch⟩ for the Kazakh sounds /ɕ/ and /tɕ/ respectively, and eliminates the use of apostrophes.[6]

Speakers of Kazakh (mainly Kazakhs) are spread over a vast territory from the Tian Shan to the western shore of the Caspian Sea. Kazakh is the official state language of Kazakhstan, with nearly 10 million speakers (based on information from the CIA World Factbook[7] on population and proportion of Kazakh speakers).[8]

In China, nearly two million ethnic Kazakhs and Kazakh speakers reside in the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture of Xinjiang.[9]

Writing system

Kazakh Arabic and Latin script in 1924

The oldest known written records of languages closely related to Kazakh were written in the Old Turkic alphabet, though it is not believed that any of these varieties were direct predecessors of Kazakh.[10] Modern Kazakh, going back approximately one thousand years, was written in the Arabic script until 1929, when Soviet authorities introduced a Latin-based alphabet, and then a Cyrillic alphabet in 1940.[11]

Nazarbayev first brought up the topic of using the Latin alphabet instead of the Cyrillic alphabet as the official script for Kazakh in Kazakhstan in October 2006.[12]Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture of Xinjiang.[9]

The oldest known written records of languages closely related to Kazakh were written in the Old Turkic alphabet, though it is not believed that any of these varieties were direct predecessors of Kazakh.[10] Modern Kazakh, going back approximately one thousand years, was written in the Arabic script until 1929, when Soviet authorities introduced a Latin-based alphabet, and then a Cyrillic alphabet in 1940.[11]

Nazarbayev first brought up the topic of using the Latin alphabet instead of the Cyrillic alphabet as the official script for Kazakh in Kazakhstan in October 2006.[12][13] A Kazakh government study released in September 2007 said that a switch to a Latin script over a 10- to 12-year period was feasible, at a cost of $300 million.[14] The transition was halted temporarily on 13 December 2007, with President Nazarbayev declaring: "For 70 years the Kazakhstanis read and wrote in Cyrillic. More than 100 nationalities live in our state. Thus we need stability and peace. We should be in no hurry in the issue of alphabet transformation."[15] However, on 30 January 2015, the Minister of Culture and Sports Arystanbek Mukhamediuly announced that a transition plan was underway, with specialists working on the orthography to accommodate the phonological aspects of the language.

Nazarbayev first brought up the topic of using the Latin alphabet instead of the Cyrillic alphabet as the official script for Kazakh in Kazakhstan in October 2006.[12][13] A Kazakh government study released in September 2007 said that a switch to a Latin script over a 10- to 12-year period was feasible, at a cost of $300 million.[14] The transition was halted temporarily on 13 December 2007, with President Nazarbayev declaring: "For 70 years the Kazakhstanis read and wrote in Cyrillic. More than 100 nationalities live in our state. Thus we need stability and peace. We should be in no hurry in the issue of alphabet transformation."[15] However, on 30 January 2015, the Minister of Culture and Sports Arystanbek Mukhamediuly announced that a transition plan was underway, with specialists working on the orthography to accommodate the phonological aspects of the language.[16] In presenting this strategic plan in April 2017, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev described the twentieth century as a period in which the "Kazakh language and culture have been devastated".[11]

Nazarbayev ordered Kazakh authorities to create a Latin Kazakh alphabet by the end of 2017, so written Kazakh could return to a Latin script starting in 2018.[17][18] As of 2018, Kazakh is written in Cyrillic in Kazakhstan and Mongolia, Kazakh is written in Latin in Kazakhstan, while more than one million Kazakh speakers in China use an Arabic-derived alphabet similar to the one that is used to write Uyghur.[10]

On 26 October 2017, Nazarbayev issued Presidential Decree 569 for the change to a finalized Latin variant of the Kazakh alphabet and ordered that the government's transition to this alphabet be completed by 2025,[19][20] a decision taken to emphasise Kazakh culture after the era of Soviet rule[21] and to facilitate the use of digital devices.[22] But the initial decision to use a novel orthography employing apostrophes, which make the use of many popular tools for searching and writing text difficult, has generated controversy.[23]

The alphabet was revised the following year by Presidential Decree 637 of 19 February 2018 and the use of apostrophes was discontinued and replaced with the use of diacritics and digraphs.[24][6] However, many citizens state that the officially introduced alphabet needs much improvements. Moreover, Kazakh became the second Turkic language to use the "ch" and "sh" digraphs after the Uzbek government adapted them in their version of the Latin alphabet.

2019 version of the Kazakh Latin alphabetThe alphabet was revised the following year by Presidential Decree 637 of 19 February 2018 and the use of apostrophes was discontinued and replaced with the use of diacritics and digraphs.[24][6] However, many citizens state that the officially introduced alphabet needs much improvements. Moreover, Kazakh became the second Turkic language to use the "ch" and "sh" digraphs after the Uzbek government adapted them in their version of the Latin alphabet.

In October 2019, President Tokayev expressed his concerns about all three versions of Latin alphabet and asked linguists to propose a more thoughtful version without haste.[25][26] A new version of the alphabet, elaborated by the Baitursynov Institute of Linguistics and specialists from the official working group on script transition, was proposed in November 2019, using breves, umlauts and cedillas instead of acute accents and digraphs and introducing spelling changes to stick more accurately to Kazakh phonology.[27]

Comparison using article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Cyrillic script Arabic script "Resmı nusqa 3,0" Latin script Kazinform and Kazakh Wikipedia Latin script English translation
Барлық адамдар тумысынан азат және қадір-қасиеті мен құқықтары тең болып дүниеге келеді.

References

  1. ^ https://www.ethnologue.com/language/kaz
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Kazakh". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.