And I get the feeling that this president, how great he may have been for the country in the past and present, is on the brink of defacing it now.
You may be an authoritarian leader, but if you first collect a commission of experts to form a new alphabet, then suddenly push your own idea (ignoring pushback from those experts you selected in the first place) and apparently are not willing to modify your proposal according to what your experts and the public want, you are being a dictator that's making wrong decisions.
I do find it promising that even though a quote in the article mentions that usually all that the president does shall be cheered, this proposal is getting friction from the public. I hope, for the sake of the Kazakh people, that the president will realise that he is in the wrong and will listen more to his people.
A so so dictator he is, not much of an issue he is. Ones who are the dangerous people in the country are his lieutenants: sharp guys who actually run the country, all waiting for him to finally die.
To locals, him being an unscrupulous buffoon gives much elation, as many see that they will fare much worse were he to be as sharp as leaders of neighboring gangsterlandias
Here in Montenegro we have two alphabets for the same language, one Cyrillic another one Latin. The Constitution says neither one is to be discriminated for/against. People just read & write both. Wikipedia and government web sites have transliteration switches. Media mostly use Latin.
- The President wants letters that occur only on a standard keyboard, hence the use of apostrophes to modify the sounds of letters as opposed to accented letters.
- Others prefer accented letters because apostrophes would interfere with Google searches and Twitter hashtags.
And, as someone brought it up, on smartphones your options are basically limmitless, with the option to fully customize the keyboard as it‘s all virtual.
 Most keyboards had the Estonian layout in early 2000s, but they soon rapidly lost market share, mostly due to laptops if I had to guess why.
 Why not use US ANSI layout in the OS to match the keyboard? Because it doesn't contain characters required to type Estonian words.
You can use dead keys and character combinations to get characters the keyboard doesn't support directly. This is what's done in France, where the standard AZERTY keyboard doesn't have keys for every French letter. For some letters it also only has a lowercase version, not uppercase. (Accents are optional on uppercase letters in French because... who knows why.) There is a dedicated key for the letter ù though, which only appears in a single word of the French language.
Unlike what some french believe, they are not supposed to be optional:
In spanish it used to be the same. Old printing technologies were not so flexible as a screen, so for large imprints it made more sense to have all letters be the same size whilst not wasting space above the letters.
Couldn't your friend use trigraphs (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digraphs_and_trigraphs) in place of these characters?
One that has exactly the letters that can appear in a passport's machine-readable field.
I have lots of funny accented characters in my name, and I have lived in several countries under several different names adjusted to the local officials' keyboards. And don't even get me started on forms saying "your name exactly as in your passport, but also without any funny letters".
If there is a realistic chance of writing Kazakh (names) in 7-bit-ASCII-only letters, they should go for it.
They could also use two different but equally valid writing systems. Norway has two different official written languages that both sort of correspond to the same spoken language. AFAIR in former Yugoslavia both Latin and Cyrillic were written, I remember a friend telling me that in school they alternated between Latin and Cyrillic weeks.
One (Bokmål) is loosely based on Danish (language of the ruling elite up until 1814), adapted to resemble the way Norwegians for the most part spoke, while the other (Nynorsk) was pretty much based on rural dialects.
Nynorsk does make (slightly!) more use of diacritics than bokmål, but most current nynorsk users skip them in daily correspondence; their use is not mandatory. ('too', for instance, being written 'også' in bokmål and 'ôg' in nynorsk.)
Also, both versions of Norwegian uses our funny letters æ/Æ (ae, similar-sounding to a in 'bad'), ø/Ø (oe, similar-sounding to ea in 'heard') and å/Å (aa, similar to 'a' in saw).
Disclaimer: I am an engineer, not a linguist. There are probably some inaccuracies in the above, but it should get you through the next linguist pub quiz without causing embarrassment.
I wonder who to credit for encouraging the English to use th instead of thorn. It turned out ok.
Note that I did not put in a real thorn and instead substituted a Y. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorn_(letter)
The way it's been proposed reminds me of the old Wade-Giles custom of adding apostrophes, breves and other diacritical marks. Pinyin is so much cleaner (except a few umlauts).
X- is pronounced like sh
Q- is pronounced like ch
C- is pronounced like ts
-iu is pronounced like yo
-ian is pronounced like yen
In this regard even Wade-Giles does a better job in my opinion.
Yo be clear, mandarin is of the most concern, just want to raise the issue that while true, it's not uniform throughout the language.
For native users of pinyin, the consistency with English pronunciation is essentially irrelevant.
A brief example, yes/is, approx [shi], might be pronounced approx [si], etc. But it's mandarin and not hakka, min, etc.
Kazakh makes a phonemic distinction between [g] and [ɣ]. Slovene, and most European languages, doesn’t have that distinction and their writing systems are therefore not equipped to represent it.
In any event, as per English, French, among others, an alphabet does not have to orthographically represent the phonemes exactly.
We do have a local keyboard standard, just most of us don't use it when typing something that's not official.
edit: I'm looking at my driving license and car registration certificate, there are no diacritics and they are official documents.
It doesn’t even look that inelegant to me:
Barlyq adamdar ty’mysynan azat ja’ne qadir-qasi’eti men quqyqtary 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.
I wonder if people would complain less if instead of the apostrophe another unused letter was used, such as "x" (or something else?)
Barlyq adamdar tyxmysynan azat jaxne qadir-qasixeti men quqyqtary tenx bolyp duxnixege keledi. Adamdargxa aqyl-parasat, ar-ojdan berilgen, sondyqtan olar bir-birimen tyxystyq, bayxyrmaldyq qarym-qatynas jasayxlary tixis.
> Under this new system, the Kazakh word for cherry will be written as s’i’i’e, and pronounced she-ee-ye.
You could define the alphabet so that this is written "šííě". To be honest it seems like this is a tricky example to map to any latin-based alphabet. Maybe diacritics were avoided to avoid internationalisation issues (i.e. you could easily fall back to the locale "en-us" and your Kazakh doc still looks alright)
Yes, the article quotes the president as saying: "There should not be any hooks or superfluous dots that cannot be put straight into a computer."
Ouch. That's just plain horrible.
Sure, Unicode is supposed to be everywhere, but in practice it’s simply not. On top of that a more limited character set not requiring any sort of IME or special layer shift keys is way way easier to type.
The vowels are trickier, and just doubling them like Finnish would turn s’i’i’e into shiiiie, so you might need something (an apostrophe ;-) ?) to divide the syllables. I still like shii’iie better, but that's just one word.