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Changing language policies and ideologies in Kazakhstan: an interview-based study

Jarlhøj, Morten Emil; Valijärvi, Riitta-Liisa; (2024) Changing language policies and ideologies in Kazakhstan: an interview-based study. SN Social Sciences , 4 , Article 30. 10.1007/s43545-024-00829-5.

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Language plays a critical role in society. In the Soviet Union, Russian language was leveraged as a key strategy to unify the fifteen Soviet Socialist Republics, while also minimizing the function and significance of the titular and indigenous languages. This interdisciplinary study explores changes to the role of Russian language over time in the Kazakh context. Semi-structured interviews with interviewees (N = 9) were conducted investigating three periods: the Soviet era (1940s–1980s), newly-independent (1990s–2000s), present day (2010–2021). Interview data was analysed using qualitative content analysis in the light of Post-Colonial Studies and the notion of Linguistic Imperialism. The results highlight intensive policy measures to enforce Russian during the Soviet Union, resulting in its dominant use and status across society. The interviewees shared views regarding challenges to embed Kazakh language in society in the early post-independence period, citing intentionally passive policies, low-quality pedagogy and perpetuating Russian culture as hindrances to the use of Kazakh, characteristic of post-colonial scenarios. At present (2021), in parallel to the introduction of Kazakhstan’s trilingual (Kazakh, Russian and English) policy, the attitudes towards Kazakh are more favourable. This current trend reflects greater national pride in being Kazakh. Kazakhstan is facing a new era of language use: colonial ties are giving way to globalization which brings increasing emphasis on English. The extent to which Kazakh may claim the status of lingua franca relies on the effective implementation of the trilingual policy and improvements in the education system.

Type: Article
Title: Changing language policies and ideologies in Kazakhstan: an interview-based study
DOI: 10.1007/s43545-024-00829-5
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s43545-024-00829-5
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10188418
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