27 October, 2017

President signs decree on transition to Latin based Kazakh alphabet

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Yesterday President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a decree on the transfer of the Kazakh language from current Cyrillic to Latin alphabet, Akorda’s Press Office reports.

First steps towards the alphabet’s modernization

President Nazarbayev firstly enquired the transition of Kazakh language to Latin alphabet at the 12th session of Kazakhstan’s People Assembly in 2006. Then, in 2012, in his address to Kazakh people “Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy: new political course of the established state” President underlined the necessity to modernize our language through using Latin script.

The President then said that “We should make this decision for the sake of our posterity so that they could enter to wider global integration. This will enable our children to have a better understanding of the English language, the internet and reinforce our desire to modernize the Kazakh language”.

This announcement caused a big discussion among the Kazakh people. Along with those who supported, there were people against the idea. They afraid, that by the transition of an alphabet, we can lose our national identity. However, President shared a strong evidence from Kazakh history. In the Golden Horde times, official documents and international correspondence were in the ancient Turkic writing. From the10th to the 20th century, almost 900 years, the territory of Kazakhstan used the Arabic script as the adoption of Islam. On August 7, 1929, USSR adopted a resolution on the introduction of the new Latinized alphabet called “Common Turkic Alphabet”. The Romanized alphabet was officially used from 1929 to 1940; later the Cyrillic one replaced it. This shows the fact that changes in the alphabet on Kazakh land were mainly for political reasons.


In April 2017, President published his programmatic article “Course towards the future: Modernization of Kazakhstan’s identity” where he underlined the agenda for coming years. Nazarbayev announced in the article that it is necessary to start a transition of the alphabet.

“We must approach this carefully and with sensitivity. It will require a steady and staged approach. And we have been preparing for this with caution since independence,” wrote President.

The Head of State instructed to adopt a unified standard version of Kazakh alphabet in new graphics with the help of scientists, and all public representatives by the end of 2017. In addition, he emphasized that the next two years will be dedicated to organizational and methodological works. He also initiates to create a special National commission on alphabet’s transition.

To recall, on September 11, at the parliamentary hearings in the Mazhilis, the developers presented a new version of the Latin-based Kazakh alphabet. It contains 25 Latin letters and 8 digraphs. There were many critics about digraphs among people.

The second version of the alphabet was presented to President Nazarbayev on October 9. It had 32 letters, where a few Kazakh sounded letters represented with apostrophes and there were no digraphs.

Exact solution

Yesterday Nursultan Nazarbayev met with the Head of Presidential administration Adilbek Zhaksybekov and his first deputy Marat Tazhin. They discussed the last draft of the alphabet and stressed the public’s support for the proposed version. President instructed to issue a decree on the transfer of Kazakh language to Latin alphabet and today he signed it.

"Egemen Kazakhstan" publishes a full version of the Decree

About transferring the Kazakh language from Cyrillic to Latin alphabet

In order to ensure the transition of the Kazakh language into the Latin alphabet, I DECIDE:

1. To approve the enclosed alphabet of the Kazakh language based on the Latin alphabet.

2. The Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan needs to: Establish a National Commission for the translation of the Kazakh language into Latin graphics; to provide a step-by-step transition of the Kazakh language to Latin graphics till 2025; to take other, including organizational and legislative measures to implement this Decree.

3. Control of execution of this Decree is entrusted to Administration of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

4. This Decree becomes effective from the date of signing.

President of the Republic of Kazakhstan N.Nazarbayev

Astana, Akorda, October 26, 2017

No. 569


Most of the public figures expressed their pleasure about the historical decision and noted promptness of alphabet’s modernization. Here are some of them:

Erlan Karin, political scientist: The current decision is a breakthrough in the country's development

“Of course, there are those who do not like a new alphabet. It is unreal to satisfy everybody, and we have seen it during the discussion. However, the current decision is a breakthrough in the country's development. I would even say that this is a second major step in the post-independence history. It clearly represents our civic choice. The rest is in our own hands, and it does not mean that the Latin alphabet will come into force tomorrow. There are 8 years ahead; there is a great deal of work. Until 2025, the rules will be developed. Therefore, the rest of the scientists are properly analyzing the situation. The main thing is that we determined our direction.”

Aidos Sarym, political scientist: We have to move to Latin

“We definitely need to move to Latin graphics. Nobody is against it. However, it would be better to move to the version that people accept. This transition is for people, so people should participate in making a decision.

If the October version will be accepted without changing, we may accept it. We are people with a difficult destiny.

The alphabet is not a Koran. The reform of that alphabet will be a platform for a number of Kazakhs. A new struggle, a new eruption begins.

Let the Kazakh be alive! Let the generation who concern about the language and alphabet be safe! We will progress along the way...

New step towards the future

Presidential decree about transition Kazakh language to Latin alphabet does not mean that current alphabet should directly move to new graphics. Nursultan Nazarbayev dwelled on his article that in 2018, we should begin training for teaching the new alphabet and preparing textbooks for secondary schools. In the next two years, we need to carry out the necessary organizational and methodological work.

Overall changing to Latin alphabet starts from 2025. There are 8 years for proper preparation that should lead to a qualitative transfer.



«Egemen Kazakhstan»

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