The Kazakh language is the native language of the Kazakh people. Kazakh is the state language of the Republic of Kazakhstan. However, the issue of implementing and developing the state language in Kazakhstan to this day has not been fully resolved. This is most likely an issue of time. While in the beginning of the 20th century the great Abai Kunanbaev propagated the idea of studying the Russian language, today the time has come to study the Kazakh language.
The Kazakh language is one of the Kypchak subgroup of Turkish languages, and the Turkish languages themselves are part of the Altai family of languages, which in addition to the Turkish languages include the Tungus-Manchzhur, Mongol, Finnish-Ugric, and – according to some speculations – the Japanese and Korean languages. In the world today there are representatives of over 60 Turkish peoples living from the North Arctic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. Of these, the following have their own states: Turkey, and the former republics of the Soviet Union that were formed after the collapse of the USSR - Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Azerbaijan. Aside from these may be noted the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which only Turkey has officially recognized. Within the Russian Federation, the Tatars, Bashkirs, Chuvashes, Sakhs, Altaians, Tuvinians, Khakas, Karachaevs, and Balkars have their own autonomous republics. In China the Uigurs and Kazakhs, as well as other Turkish peoples, likewise have their own autonomy: the Xinjiang Uigur Autonomous Region, where there are three Kazakh districts: Altai, Ili, and Tarbagatai. Likewise in China there are two autonomous districts - Altynshoky and Aksai. It should be noted that two other Turkish peoples likewise have autonomy. These are Gagauzia, in Moldavia, and Karakalpakstan, in Uzbekistan. The problem of the Crimean Tatars and the Meskhetin Turks is still far from resolved. Unfortunately, I have not encountered complete information on the Iranian and Iraqi Turks and on Afghan Turkestan.
The largest Turkish peoples are: the Turks, Azerbaijans, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Uigurs, Tatars, Kyrgyz and Turkmens, Bashkirs, Chuvashes, etc. We will not examine in detail the ancient Turks - the Pechenegs, Polovs, Hunns, Oguz, and Karluks. The Turkish peoples are divided into several linguistic groups, such as the Kypchak group, the Oguz group, the Bulgarian group, the Karluk group, and the Siberian group. The Kypchak group: the Tatars, Bashkirs, Kazakhs, Karakalpaks, Nogaians, Kumyks, Karachay, and Balkars. The Oguz group: the Turkmens, Azerbaijans, Turks, and Gagauz. The Bulgarian group: the Chuvashes. The Karluk group: the Uzbeks and Uigurs. The Siberian group: the Yakuts, Khakas, Altaians, and Kyrgyz.
In their turn, the Kypchak languages are combined into the following groups:
The Kypchak-Polov languages:
The Kypchak-Nogai languages:
The Kyrgyz-Kypchak languages:
The Kypchak-Bulgarian languages:
Now, regarding the Kazakh language and the Kazakhs.
Originally the Kazakhs called themselves not Kazahs, but the qazaqtar, which in Russian would be pronounced kazakhtar. There are various theories regarding the etymology of the word Kazakhs. The one I best relate to, however, is the Turkish name for the Kazakhs - Kazaks (Kazakhs) - the freedom-loving people. In the Russian chronicles the Kazakh Horde was called the Kazak Horde. Even in the years of the formation of the Kazakh ASSR within the Russian Federation last century in the 1920s (Kazakhstan became a union republic only in 1936), so as not to confuse Kazakhs with Kazaks the Kazakhs began to be called Kazakhs; the country at the time was called Kazakstan.
In Kazakh the Kazakh language is called ana tili - native language, or mother tongue.
According to data from the last population census conducted February 25 - March 6, 2009, the number of the Republic's inhabitants comprises 16 million 403 thousand persons, of which Kazakhs comprise 67% of the population. In all, there are 17 million Kazakhs in the world. In addition to Kazakhstan, Kazakhs also live in over 50 countries of the world.
The chief portion of Kazakhs, however, lives in the countries bordering Kazakhstan. The largest Kazakh diaspora is in China (2.7 million), Uzbekistan (1.5 million), and Russia (1.2 million). After Kazakhstan obtained its independence in 1991, around 1 million ethnic Kazakhs (repatriates) who had left their homeland in various years (during the years of the rise of Soviet authority, during the Great Famine, during the repression, etc.) returned to their historical homeland. Kazakhstan is one of a very few countries in the world that are concerned with the issue of ethnic Kazakhs living abroad. Recently the Нұрлы көш state program was adopted. The purpose of the Нұрлы көш program is to rationally disperse and help settle ethnic immigrants, former citizens of Kazakhstan who have come to work on the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and Kazakh citizens living in underprivileged regions of the country.
For Kazakhs living in other countries a major issue is their employment of different forms of writing. For example, Kazakhs in Kazakhstan, Mongolia, the CIS countries (except for Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan) and the Baltic area use the Cyrillic alphabet; Kazakhs in Turkey, Europe, and America use Latin letters; and Kazakhs in China, Afghanistan, Iran, and the Arab countries use Arabian symbols, the so-called төте жазу, developed by Akhmet Baitursynuly. The problem is that although they can communicate amongst themselves in their native language, difficulties arise when it comes to correspondence.
In Kazakhstan around 80 percent of Kazakh children study in Kazakh schools. Of the total number of schools about 70 percent of schools have Kazakh as their language of study. Yet it is here that the problem of the Kazakh school arises. Why? Because many schools, particularly in major cities, are so-called "mixed schools". What, then, does this mean? For example, a school has more than half of its classes with Russian as the language of study, and less than half with Kazakh as the language of study. Hence, the influence of the Russian language manifests itself. At one time, however, twenty years ago in Kazakhstan, particularly in large cities, there were very few Kazakh schools. For example, in the million-person population of Almaty (not Alma-Ata, or the father of apples, but Almaty, meaning the apple territory) there was only one Kazakh school. There are Kazakh schools in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Mongolia, and China; yet in Russia, where there are over a million Kazakhs, there is only one Kazakh school. This is the Karakol secondary school in the village of Kerei in Altai. Despite having a 100,000 Kazakh diaspora in Kyrgyzstan, to this day the Kazakhs do not have a single Kazakh school.
In comparison with other former republics of the Soviet Union, in its linguistic position Kazakhstan ranks last except for Belorus. Whereas the Baltic countries maintained a very rigid policy with regard to the Russian language from the outset, in the Transcaucasian countries the state language was not an issue. In the countries of Central Asia there are similar situations as well, but Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are to a certain degree more russified than Uzbekistan or Turkmenistan. Hence, the position of the Russian language is very strong.
After acquiring its independence, Kazakhstan declared Kazakh the official state language. In the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan, adopted at the national referendum on August 30, 1995, article 7 states: "In the Republic of Kazakhstan the state language shall be the Kazakh language." Based on the Constitution, the law "On Languages in the Republic of Kazakhstan" was adopted. Pursuant to the "Law on Languages", article 4 states: "The state language of the Republic of Kazakhstan shall be the Kazakh language.
The state language is the language of state government, legislation, legal proceedings and record keeping, acting in all spheres of social relations on the territory of the state.
It is the duty of each citizen of the Republic of Kazakhstan to know the state language, it being a most important factor in the consolidation of the people of Kazakhstan. The government and other state and local representative or executive agencies shall be obligated to:
develop the state language in the Republic of Kazakhstan in every possible way, fortify its international authority, create all the necessary organizational, material and technical conditions for learning the state language easily and free of charge for all citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and render aid to the Kazakh diaspora in preserving and developing their native language."
In Kazakhstan the Concepts of Linguistic Policy of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the State Program of Functioning and Development of Languages for 2001-2010 were likewise adopted, where in 2010 in all central and local executive agencies incremental implementation of the state language was planned. In the State Program of Functioning and Development of Languages for 2001-2010 it is noted that "the state language is not functioning or is poorly applied in a number of state administrative bodies. In this respect it is essential for state agencies to work on incremental transitioning prior to 2010 of record keeping and accounting and statistic, financial, and technical documentation to the state language, and in compliance with the provisions of item 2, article 7 of the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan to accomplish this:
in 2006 - the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan, local representative and executive agencies of the Aqtobe, West Kazakhstan, and Karaganda oblasts and the city of Almaty;
in 2007 - the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Office of the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the National Security Commission of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Central Election Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Constitutional Counsel of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Calculation Committee for Monitoring Execution of the National Budget, the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Ministry of Environmental Protection of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Ministry of Economics and Budget Planning of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Republic of Kazakhstan Agency for Regulation and Supervision of the Financial Market and Financial Organizations, the Republic of Kazakhstan Land Resources Agency, the Republic of Kazakhstan Natural Monopoly Regulation Agency, local representative and executive agencies of the the Almaty and Pavlodar oblasts and of the city of Astana;
in 2008 – the Ministry of Transportation and Communications of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Ministry of Labor and Social Security of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Emergency Situations Ministry of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Republic of Kazakhstan Statistics Agency, the Republic of Kazakhstan Communications and Information Technology Agency, local representative and executive agencies of the Akmolinsk, Kostanai, North Kazakhstan, and East Kazakhstan oblasts;
in 2009 - the Administration of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Presidential Guard of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Department of Presidential Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and the Agency for Regulating Activity of the Regional Financial Center of the City of Almaty.".
The authorized agency for development and implementation of the state language is the Languages Committee of the Ministry of Culture and Information.
In 2008, enormous funds were allotted from the budget for development of the state language, and at the initiative of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbaev the Presidential Fund for Development of the State Language was created. Likewise in 2008 the Plan of Action for 2009-2010 for executing the State Program of Functioning and Development of Languages for 2001-2010 was adopted. Points such as the following may be noted: the creation of the International Center for Cooperation of Kazakhstan with other countries of the European Union in the sphere of linguistic policy for the systematic study and implementation in Kazakhstan of international experience, application of the state language in international activities, in the sphere of state administration, in the agencies of the prosecutor's office, defense, Armed Forces, and law enforcement agencies, the improvement of KAZTEST systems of evaluating knowledge of the Kazakh language, production of animated and theatrical films for children in the Kazakh language, and the conducting of sociological research to study the state of visual information on the Republic of Kazakhstan.
To finance the above-mentioned and other measures towards implementing and developing the state language, in 2009 5,066,313,000 tenge were allotted from the budget, and in 2010 at allotment of 4,763,727,000 tenge is planned.
Before Kazakhstan acquired its independence, we were told that 25 percent (some even said 40 percent) of Kazakhs did not know their native language.
Yes, whereas in the beginning of the 20th century Kazakhs in Kazakhstan comprised 80 percent of the population, in 1959 after new land areas were obtained they comprised 29 percent of the population. The answer is clear. In spite of total russification, however, it was used in everyday life in every Kazakh family.
In recent times in Kazakhstan the following tendency may be noted: more and more people of non-titular nations have been enrolling their children in Kazakh children's preschool establishments and schools. These already number over 25 thousand. As quantity increases, so does quality. For example, in the city of Aqtobe a competition was held among non-Caucasian persons, testing their knowledge of the state language, in which first place went to a graduate (alumnus) of a children's home, who received the keys to an apartment from the akim himself. It is heartening that more people treat the study of the Kazakh language consciously and with full responsibility, and this gives confidence that the state language will soon occupy a worthy place.
To cite a sad example: at one time between the Volga (Edil) and Ural (Zhaiyk) rivers, in the Northern Caucasus, there lived the numerous Nogai people - the people closest to the Kazakhs, which in numbers even excelled the Kazakhs. History so unfolded, however, that today they number only 100,000 persons. We do not wish for our people to repeat this ethnos' fate. Hence, the Kazakh language must truly be the state language!