I'm Polish, and thanks to the latin alphabet we're using, the country has it much easier to be close to the west. People have easier time learning English, and it eases the communication a lot.
If we were using cyrylic, the country would be naturally leaning more towards Russia - which, considering the history, wouldn't be good.
I don't know too much about Kazakhstan, but perhaps it's the same thing? The country trying to build moats between them and Russia?
If we were in a similar situation (that is - using cyrylic instead of latin), I be pro-change. A few billion in costs of such changes, even for a poor country, will produce a good ROI, considering greater independence and better international trade.
Is this really so? Are you sure having a different alphabet would make it harder for people to learn a western language? I am Russian, and I can safely say that pretty much every literate adult in Russia who has at least a basic school education can read Latin letters just fine, because there is no way around it; the alphabet is taught at school.
If an argument is to be made at all, it's probably that it may be harder for the foreigners, never trained in reading Cyrillic, to start reading it, but I am not sure it's of particular concern. I wouldn't expect significant numbers of people flock to learn Russian (or Kazakh) as a foreign language anyway, because why should they?
It may be a barrier, sure, but it is a microscopic barrier (33 letters, mostly Greek-based, many in common with the Latin alphabet) compared to the complexity of a language (any language) itself. Would you say that Americans would more readily pick up Danish? Or Finnish? Or Latvian? Or Polish?
Just as a side note: I once had to take a course in classical Greek. It took us one lesson (or maybe two) to learn the Greek alphabet. Compared to the rest of the course it was... I am finding it hard even to say 'peanuts', for it would be an offense to peanuts.
(I am more inclined to think that it's up to us to standardize on an international language — and I would much rather it were English — than for different nations to learn each other's languages. But that's, of course, just my opinion.)
I would say that Americans (and people in general) are more likely to attempt taking up those languages, if given a fairly equal choice between them and others that also require learning a new alphabet. For the same reason (although on a lesser scale) that they might shy away from Chinese or Japanese.
It's one more hurdle.
Chinese, if you don't care about writing it, is simple grammatically (though a few concepts are hard to wrap your head around).
So, for your proposed equivalence, I think my original statement is true, and I also think the more general statement above is likely true in a wider sense.
Initial attempt maybe. But I think very soon most people will find out that if you are coming from an Indo-European background, Kazakh or Finnish, regardless of script used, is far more foreign than Russian or German.
Thats how it feels to me at least when I think about learning another language. It's a data point of one, but I don't think I'm that unique in this.
And once you do start, something like differences between analytic and synthetic languages probably would be more of a tripping point.
Try Arabic, though. I took a relatively intensive four-week Arabic class one summer, and we spent the first week or two on the alphabet.
Anecdote: when I was little (in the USA), our family had a big dictionary, and in the back was, among others, the Cyrillic alphabet along with how to pronounce the letters. I would write out English words in Cyrillic letters, thinking that I was writing Russian words. :)
If you're driven enough to even think about learning Kazakh then I imagine that a slightly different alphabet is not going to stop you. If my adventures with the Czech language are at all indicative then learning the rules around grammatical cases and being able to listen and parse the words in speech at "normal" speed are the real hurdles you'll need to overcome.
With any text in a Latin alphabet, in any language, show me the phonology of the language and I can read it aloud at normal speed with decent pronunciation within a few hours. If it’s in a different writing system, it’s going to take me days or longer to get up to even a moderate reading speed—and a lot of that would be cheating by just memorising the text and using the writing as a cue.
I remember an Irish guy who was speaking pretty fluent Italian mispronouncing the word "firma" making it sound like English "firm" instead of "feerma", and I'm pretty sure that wouldn't happen if he had to learn a new alphabet. As part of learning the new alphabet he would match that gliphy with the "ee" sound with less chances of associating it with the English sounds just because of similar spelling.
Fortunately that was a minority—maybe 5–10% of students had that difficulty and couldn’t grow out of it. Part of the issue is also that people seem to hold back and don’t try to really imitate the accent of a language, which they may not get is really an essential part of the pronunciation. You’ve got to put on your best “French accent” if you want to properly speak French!
Speaking of “closest sound in your native language”, my Polish coworkers and I a couple of jobs ago had a lot of fun one day when I transcribed their English speech using Polish spelling—lo and behold, it gave quite an accurate representation of their accents. (E.g., “It would be funny” = “it łód bi fany”.)
Latin alphabet might give you the illusion that you can read a text aloud but it's really just that, an illusion. Ask a French speaker with no knowledge of English to read this comment aloud "phonetically" and see if you can even recognize the words.
It's even conceivable that using a different alphabet actually helps you getting the pronunciation right since you might be less tempted to read it in English.
As a practical joke, I once asked a French speaker (who spoke English well) to read this aloud:
Un petit d'un petit
S'étonne aux Halles
Un petit d'un petit
Ah! degrés te fallent
Indolent qui ne sort cesse
Indolent qui ne se mène
Qu'importe un petit
Tout gai de Reguennes.
Indolent qui ne sort cesse
qui ne s- = king's
-ort cesse = 'orses
In comparison I was able to learn Korean alphabet quite easily.
IMO it's really insignificant compared to the barrier of learning all the vocabulary (it's not like romance languages where every other word is a cognate, plus the stress patterns in Russian are harder to predict), the vastly different grammar (case system, perfective/imperfective etc...) and the cultural barriers.
My Russian is abysmal and I haven't practiced in years but I just went to lenta.ru and was able to read just fine. I don't understand 99% of it of course but I can read the letters reasonably quickly.
Anyway, from what I heard Kazakh is a Turkic language and most of them are written using the Latin alphabet.
P.S. And I like to play Witcher III with Polish voices and Russian subtitles.
Is this based on your imagination or do you have some source?
I have seen several complete idiots try (and completely fail) to learn Russian, but they all got the alphabet down perfectly in a few days.
It’s almost completely impossible for me to imagine you thinking this if you have made any serious effort to learn Russian.
Learning Cyrillic is nothing compared to learning pronouncing, listening, grammar and vocabulary.
There are hundreds of words and grammar and conjugation rules to learn but 33 (or less, due to sharing) letters (and similar style ones, not Arabic ones or Chinese characters or Hangul ones) are a major obstacle?
Differences and amount of letters between Cyrillic and Latin is also nothing compared to how out there Chinese, Arabic, Thai, etc. systems are. It's so simple and similar and there's so little of it that it's as much of not an obstacle as it can be without being the same script.
Learning a language is always hard and learning most languages you'd have to learn a new sound for every Latin letter (and for many of its di and trigraphs used in the new language) as well anyway because it might be pronounced differently and you'd better not "cheat" by going letter -> English sound -> new language sound in your head because that's an obstacle and artificially slowing yourself down or possibly making a mistake.
Even though a lot of vocabulary, grammar and the script are shared between English, French, Dutch, Spanish, etc. it's not such a foregone conclusion that people can just do it effortlessly (with less effort than Chinese but it's still quite an effort).
Similarly I read accounts of Westerners taking Japanese Language Proficiency Test and mentioning a lot of Koreans and Chinese being there due to probably having less obstacles with Japanese (Korean supposedly has similar grammar and Chinese of course has similar writing system) but of course CJK languages are not mutually intelligible and a Korean, Japanese or Chinese person can't just up and go pass a language test in one of the other two easily.
Polish uses Latin and some diacritics but it's not any easier for it (it might actually be harder due to the language itself).
Ashens (a YouTuber who eats weird stuff) once pronounced wafelek jagodowy as it were English and it was so butchered he might as well have recited a Cthulu summoning instead (you can compare the two on Google Translate). I'm not jabbing at people who don't know Polish but I'm trying to illustrate that it just doesn't work that way - a Polish j or w is not an English j or w.
Cyrillic also doesn't pervade Poland at all and I don't know Russian but I had it at school so I know Cyrillic and having native Polish I can sort of get some Russian but an American who knew just Cyrillic would just get nothing. I also get nothing out of Kazakh in either script, Turkish, etc. but looking at any Slavic language or French I can get a lot of words due to similarities to what I do know.
On the way to fluency (whatever definition of it you might consider) you'll run into sounding natural in both sound and vocabulary way more often than anything else. E.g. former ambassador to Poland was considered by everyone to have great Polish (for an American that is..) and often spoke Polish when invited on TV and such and understood spoken and written Polish seemingly perfectly but you could tell as soon as he opened his mouth he's absolutely not a native speaker due to his pronunciation (and it's not just an accent, people from Podlasie have an accent when they come to Pomorze and vice versa, with him you could just tell he has an un-Polish vocal system producing Polish sounds) and he received ambassador language training USA does and has been living in Poland for years.
And I'm saying all that as someone with some interest in linguistic, writing systems, etc. for a while now and knowing 3-to-5-ish writing systems (Polish/English/Latin, Russian/Cyrillic, Japanese katakana and hiragana and few dozen kanji I can write and few hundred I can read - it's technically one "writing" system but it's more like a 3-in-1 because they represent same sounds but in different contexts and with different meaning or lack of it - it's a complex deal) and 2 languages really well (English, Polish) and 2 other badly (failed Russian, absolute beginner Japanese). I know this doesn't make me an expert but at least I've been around the languages a bit more than an average person.
I actually wish my biggest obstacle with Japanese was just learning all of katakana and hiragana (which there are almost 50 of each, plus diacritics and digraphs with them, and they are much different from Cyrillic and Latin) because I've done that long ago with very little overall effort using just Memrise and Obenkyo on my phone whenever I could spare a moment over a few weeks.
It makes it much easier for tourists when country uses the same alphabet.
Either way the move away from Cyrillic may loosen ties to Russia, but the fact that Turkey uses a Latin alphabet is a stronger motivation than any hopes of building bridges with the West. The latter, if it happens, would just be a bonus.
Perhaps, but Kazakhstan intentionally decided not to make its new Latin alphabet mirror the Turkish alphabet. In the 1920s several Turkic nations took Turkey’s alphabet as a model, but then were condemned by the Stalinist regime for being too pan-Turkic, with tragic consequences. Kazakhstan is therefore trying to walk an independent course here.
Having had peek access to all Western European languages since the day I learned to read has clearly helped me gain early access to the style and idiosyncracy of each. Not that I can read them as such, but I can with some confidence pick out basic meaning from simple text in more or less all Indo-European languages written in some kind of Latin letters. For very basic meaning, this includes languages like Polish and Czech. It does not include Russian, unless I make some extra effort.
I actually know more Russian than Polish, but would no doubt have an easier time learning the latter. It does tend to matter what you had chiselled on your brain at age three or four.
But only few years ago I've learnt cyrylic script (by accident, when I was in L'viv for a week ;) ). It's not hard, but it takes time, and I still have to say each letter in my mind when I read cyrylic, it's awkward and takes a long time compared to Latin-based foreign languages.
Strictly from this perspective alone this change is a no brainer investment.
One of my friends said this was a political thing, with some people using the choice of their default language being who they support (Russia vs EU). Moldova is constantly caught in trying to get support/benefits from one or the other; drastically changing their policy to fit one only to be blocked in inclusions (Moldovans make the type of wines that people in the EU like instead of the Russian varieties, but then France and Italy start over producing those same variants to block them out of the market .. or countries in the EU offering to lend their government money, but only if they reject x offer from Russian.)
Do you see the same thing in Kazakhstan? Do some people chose to use one language more often than the other due to political beliefs or affiliations?
I'll share an anecdote from a different place though, something that gave me an epiphany on how to judge this kind of situation. Years ago, I was on a train near the language border area within Belgium: French to the south, Dutch to the north. I had a conversation with a mentally disabled person sitting next to me. In both French and Dutch. He was switching between them fluently.
If you want to imply that even mentally ill people can switch languages, but ex-USSR people can't... Plenty of them could. Many of them do that with English. Or is refusing to speak certain language in certain cases worse than mental illness?
Depends on how you define recent history. Discrimination of the Dutch speaking population was very outspoken until the 1920's (canon fodder in WW I...), common until the 1930's (difficult to get secondary education in Dutch, ...), and in some areas quite a bit longer.
> If you want to imply that even mentally ill people can switch languages, but ex-USSR people can't... Plenty of them could. Many of them do that with English. Or is refusing to speak certain language in certain cases worse than mental illness?
All people have the intellectual ability to learn a language. Obviously this includes former USSR people.
You won't see me make a statement about "everyone should have to ..." or "the rules should be...". I believe general rules are very blunt instruments when the heart of the issue is mutual courtesy and respect on an invididual level. Willingness to communicate in a specific language is often a very good proxy for that.
Every time something is threatening the local oligarchs' interests, the entire identity/language thing conveniently gets played. On either side of the cultural divide. When push comes to shove, the emperor of Ventspils and the king of Riga seem to find each other all too easily. It's the people in Latvia that pay the price.
Some totally useless random personal anecdotes. Seems like I have plenty of time to spare today:
* One of my first days in Latvia, quite a few years ago. I visit the occupation museum. Our guide is a student from a US Latvian emigre family volunteering for a month. He says something like "Really, the nazis were better for Latvia than the Soviets." Conveniently forgetting the problem for the Jewish Latvians and quite a few more things...
* I'm sitting in front of a lady in the tram in Riga. I've learned to speak Latvian rather well. I explain to her that I'm a foreigner who learned Latvian and ask her what stop I need for $well_known_shop. She completely ignores me, with an angry look. When I get off the tram, a venomous shout from her, in Latvian with a thick Russian accent: "If you know Latvian, you know Russian too!". Angry, extremely rude old lady. Don't want to get close to her.
* I'm on the ferry from Germany to the Latvian coast. My cabin mate Aleksandrs, a Russian culture Latvian, is doing his very best to speak Latvian to me, so we have at least one way to communicate. I speak it better than him, as he's away from Latvia most of the year in Western Europe, and his friends are mostly from Russian speaking circles. Bizarre, but friendly conversation. A Latvian traveller comes over and starts pestering Aleksandrs very agressively for more than half an hour with platitudes about how "none of you Russians never speak Latvian". Oh irony, we were speaking Latvian. Aleksandrs gets tired of this all, shakes his head and just gets back to our cabin.
* I'm in the center of Riga (Maxima Barona iela, near Bērnu pasaule) and I need something from a particular shop. It's so long ago I'm not even sure what it was I needed. I ask a few Russian language local teenagers hanging around the entrance of a local shop where it is. They more or less understand me after explaining them in English and Latvian. They have difficulties even with terms for left and right (!), but they courteously guide me in the right direction by pictionary, broken English and very very broken Latvian. An interesting case really of people lacking even basic awareness of what respect means in a language context. It just didn't register in their minds it seems. They're not exactly advancing their future as job seekers either...
* A friend's father was born in Siberian, to Latvian exile parents who were deported there (together with 57575 other people btw, or ~3% of the Latvian population at the time). He speaks Russian rather well and even reads Pushkin, but will reply in Latvian to questions asked in Russian. Except to some friends.
* The countless times I've had to hear "Wow! Where did you say you are from? And you don't even live here? You speak Latvian better than so many people who have been living here for ages!"
* My Latvian significant other's former boss used to be a Russian background Latvian. S.o. only learned about this after several months on the job.
Got any recommended articles on that? Maybe once things settle down for several decades, Russian language will be more acceptable in Russia's neighbours too. And local Russians will accept they're no longer living in Russia/SU.
Few more personal anecdotes for your collection:
* I was walking random streets in Riga. I'm Lithuanian and I understand both Latvian and Russian about the same. Random older lady comes up to me and asks something in Russian. I answer in Russian that I don't understand Russian. She starts shouting along the lines of latviešu fashisty :/
* A friend of mine was managing a Lithuanian company's branch in Latvia. They had to keep at least 2 salesperson on the floor all the time. One ethnic Latvian and one ethnic Russian. Otherwise either client could get pissed off by the accent.
* Tallinn townhall square on a warm summer day. Everybody minding their own business and beer. A bunch of chavs/maroz/etc comes with Russian flags, shouting "slava Rosija" and do a couple circles around the square. Nobody gives a damn.
* There's a kebab joint in Vilnius run by Turkish (?) dude. He knows some Russian, but refuses to speak it with non-tourists and answers them in Lithuanian on principle. "If I learned it in few years, why can't they learn it in few decades?"
Personally I don't respond in Russian if I'm sure the person was born or lived here for decades. If they look like tourists, I try to help with few Russian words I know or ask if they speak English... Old good pointing at the map goes a long way too.
While I prefer speaking English when I am there (which happens pretty regularly), it seems that people are actually more willing to speak Russian. Probably because they are trying to sell you something...
People you’re dealing with age makes a big difference too. 35+ will speak good Russian and probably have a hard time with English. Younger are very likely to be the other way around.
P.S. Mantas was super popular name in late 80s thanks to a movie Herkus Mantas.
It does actually seem that it's the same people who would've refused to speak Russian before who are perfectly happy to do it now. Not that I would blame them at all, just find it amusing really.
Mantas I know is ~40+ years old, so probably not because of a movie.
Which already puts you way above local Russian-speaking population. We appreciate that. A lot.
> It does actually seem that it's the same people who would've refused to speak Russian before who are perfectly happy to do it now. Not that I would blame them at all, just find it amusing really.
It's kinda natural. People who saw obscenities in 1940s are dying out. The vocal pro-USSR/Russia people are diminishing too (although Latvia and Estonia may have different experience). Tension of the change of 1990s is gone. Those who weren't happy about the situation left for Russia or WE.
I'm pretty sure if Ukraine (as well as overall policies that caused it) hadn't happened, we'd have rather decent relations.
I have a feeling that if not Ukraine, then something else would have happened anyway.
As for the locals, when you're being forced at gunpoint to learn another language, resentment is natural. When the push is gone, it's kinda natural to exercise your newfound freedom too.
Of course, Ukraine was a symptom, not the cause. But if the cause for Ukraine was not there, it'd be damn nice. Now it will take at least another generation change for people to drop subconscious hate/fear of Russia. The clock is set back by 30 years if not more :(
If the cause for Ukraine weren't there... I m afraid it would have been possible only if Russia weren't Russia.
-Fellow soon-to-be Ex-Lithuanian.
I bet you're not moving to Russia either...
Probably 30-70% of every FSU republic except Belarus.
Even within Ukraine, Ukrainians from Kyiv can face some difficulties understanding the Ukrainian spoken in the Carpathians (which is either transitional to Rusyn or is actually straight-up Rusyn), or the rural dialect of Trans-Carpathia that can include a great deal of Hungarian words.
Well, that's kind of the whole point behind the move (or at least a big part of it), actually.
The USSR colapsed less than 30 years ago.
This has been true for a long time and remains true now much like Russias nature.
It existed in general, but it was especially intense from 1930s until early 1950s. So during Stalin in particular a lot of damage was caused. It's not hard to point out at all.
See some references here: https://sh.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1164774/FULLTEXT0...
(from page 107).
But I think I'm wasting my time here. If you want to deny historic facts, do it elsewhere.
I’m very sad that from the two languages known by my grand parents generation (alsatian and a dialect of dutch) I only know a few words because these languages were destroyed by the state.
How, btw, did this question follow from your point in the starting commentary?
Is it Latin? Which version? See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latin_alphabet
Or is it all modern non-Cyrillic letters used in Europe that don't have diacritics?
In any case, diacritics are a positive. They're used to make a language as phonetic as possible, which is a net positive. As anyone can attest, learning to pronounce English words (or French, for that matter) is a lot of people wasting a lot of effort, which would be better spent elsewhere!
It’s usually (not always) clear how a word is pronounced in French if you know its spelling.
French (there are quite a few of them - think CA for example) has just as many idiosyncrasies as English when you really get in to it.
It is totally impossible to predict how an unfamiliar written word is pronounced in English, but quite easy in French (barring some ambiguous situations like if a noun ends in “s”.)
By the way, I don’t know what CA means. If you’re referring to the French word “ça”, its pronunciation is completely regular and predictable given the spelling.
The problem isn't Latin, the problem is how you use it. Nobody forced you to sometimes use C when you mean K. There are many languages where these letters don't overlap.
Nobody forced you to use both PH and F for the same sound. Why even use PH? It's not like anybody cares if that particular word was stolen from Greek or not. And if some people do - they can check it on wikipedia. Make it all use f and be done with it.
The whole too/two/to situation is ridiculous. Ridiculous spelling is also ridiculous. Why put "o" before only one of these "u"? Either put it before both or none... Also - beautiful. Really? Eau?
And why sometimes there's one "l" and sometimes there are two? Full, but plentiful. WTF?
If you bothered to refactor the language every century - English would be perfectly reasonable now. Instead the whole world is stuck with learning centuries of design debt to communicate.
I guess keeping compatibility over long periods of time can have a lot of value, for OSes and languages alike...
That said, letter with diacritic vs separate letter is a surprisingly fraught topic, the same character can be considered a letter in one language and not a letter in another. Look up collation rules in European languages for a real nightmare...
I mean.. really?
I'm so astonished by that logic I don't even know what to tell you. Different languages can have different rules you know.
Edit: thanks for the downvote. How dare I tell a person who just claimed half of Europe is composing their alphabets wrong because Germans do it differently that they are short sighted.
Absolutely not. My argument was that Kazakh is far from unique in having ”extra letters”, which my native language’s alphabet also has.
On a personal level I far prefer latin-alphabet Slavic languages since it makes it easier to approximate an understandable pronunciation.
I of course agree with there not being a problem with extra letters because Polish does it without any significant problems as well.
They've added 9 of their own to 33 of Russian Cyrillic for a total of 42 when using it for Kazakh. Now they're gonna add 6 diacritics and two digraphs, that's much less already.
Compare this to even Polish that has:
1. 9 additional letters: ą, ć, ę, ł, ń, ó, ś, ź, ż.
2. Technically no x, v nor q, but everyone knows their sound so casually or artistically you can use them, just not in 100% orthographically correct Polish.
3. 7 digraphs: ch, cz, dz, dź, dż, rz, sz.
And it's not really a problem in any way and the words are distinct enough that if you skip all the Polish specific stuff it's still 100% readable, people texting or writing online or Polish comments in code (in an ASCII file) often do that.
I've seen many systems (CJK, Arabic, Hebrew, various European ones) and have somewhat an interest in this stuff and I don't think it's a big deal at all.
I also think (as a layman) that it's really not about the system anymore but about fitting it to your language (within reason, e.g. don't try to write Polish with Chinese characters), someone could say Polish butchered Latin or gave it 16 warts but it works and I'd say the phonology is way saner than English (okay, that's not an achievement but still, no one tells English off for it's use of Latin despite it's crazy pronunciations).
I also wondered about an experiment of using both Cyrillic and Latin together at once in a language that already uses one of them to denote foreign words (e.g. Polish with foreign words in Cyrillic or Russian with foreign words in Latin), just like katakana in Japanese does (among other uses). I wonder if Kazakh writing (casual or maybe even official) with loanwords from Russian (if they exist, I don't know Kazakh, maybe they have none) might do that just for Russian foreign words, to avoid transcribing them into the Latin alphabet (which would be more awkward than just using them directly as they could in their Cyrillic which was a superset of Russian Cyrillic and would either ignore their own Latin phonology and diacritics or require a new transcription style that is unlike the other ones, thus adding to confusion).
Using Cyrillic and/or Latin of course has implications about politics, history and religion, with Cyrillic being associated with Russia, Soviet Bloc, Orthodox Christianity, etc.
However, the Turkic languages don't have a good start in any of these three, yet they're all written in one of them with a large number of diacritics.
From the linguistic point of view I posit, your primary concern in designing an orthography is: does this line up nicely with the phonology? If it does, congrats, your literacy rate just went up. Every digraph you add is another exception you have to explain, every sound with two letters is another exception you have to learn. My son is in kindergarten. He wrote "KUMIN" on a piece of paper and hung it on the door the other day. I asked him what it said, he told me "It says 'come in'". Was that obvious to you? It wasn't obvious to me.
So, in the grand scheme of things, I know a new Turkic orthography is probably a long shot. But wait, there is already a Turkic language with similar phonology: Turkish. Did they take the Turkish orthography and modify that? Not really. They had to come up with yet another g diacritic.
I hope they do normalize the spelling and make it phonetic. Then at least, they may improve literacy, assuming it wasn't as phonetic as it could be under the old alphabet. Because otherwise, what are they getting for what they're spending this huge amount of money replacing books, retraining teachers, fixing software, etc.?
In phonetic languages with digraphs there are rules to the exceptions. For example "sz" is related to "s" same way "cz" is related to "c". "I" makes the previous letter softer.
And there are Slavic languages with Latin script and almost no digraphs. Polish is kinda old school in that regard as it preserved sz and cz (funny thing - English name for Czech Republic uses Polish/Old Czech spelling).
English is one of the worst examples of using Latin script there is, and it could be drastically improved if it used regular digraphs instead of ad-hoc spelling. For comparison German from the same language family is much more regular and easier to pronounce.
The writing split in Slavic languages also follows closely some West/East (historical and contemporary) and Catholic/Orthodox (it depends, Czechs turned largely atheist by now from Catholicism but Poles, Russians, etc. mostly remain in their religions) splits more than anything, e.g. West Slavs have Latin and prevalence of Catholicism, East Slavs have Cyrillic and prevalence of Orthodoxy, South Slavs are a mix of the two and it shows, e.g. Croatia is more Catholic and more Western and it has the Latin alphabet, Serbia has Orthodoxy and both writings, Bulgaria has Orthodoxy and Cyrillic, etc.
Technically even Cyrillic which should fit Russian perfectly has things like И and Й which are two related sounds, because it really makes sense that a related sound has a similar letter with just a diacritic mark.
Even the Japanese hiragana and katakana have diacritics and digraphs, even though it's a fully bespoke (yes, based on Chinese characters and some Indian Buddhist scripts but they were modified and adapted very extensively and barely look like the originals from which they were evolved from and it was over a thousand years ago) system that evolved in Japan (an island nation), got a few official revisions to clear it up and is specific to only the Japanese language (and Okinawan and Ainu, but that's secondary and due to Japanese presence and didn't affect its design).
It's similar with Polish, for example ź is like z but with sort of wheezing the air under your tongue and through lower teeth instead of on top of it (sorry for the bad explanation, you can compare Polish letters and their bases on Google Translate or something and you'll hear the similarity of the sound).
There were attempts to Cyrillize Polish and Latinize Belarusian but they were shoddy at best and done by an occupants so that didn't go well.
The only funky thing in Polish that is better done in Cyrillic is digraphs (but then Russian has ть and we have a single letter ć, which is visible in base form of many verbs, like in Russian делать and Polish robić). Polish has cz and sz while Cyrillic actually has real letters for those sounds: Ч and Ш (Cyrillic also has Щ that sounds like sz and cz chained together like in szczęście but we don't consider that combination to be one letter or a quadgraph or anything like that). The digraphs also aren't a problem because they (IIRC, maybe there's some words and I can't think of it because I'm native) never appear like that naturally, if you get s before a z, it's a sz sound. Because of this it's not really an exception but a rule, if you gave a Pole a paper with just SZ or CZ or RZ on they'd do that one sound, not try to pronounce two letters.
Digraphs (in addition to j, w and y, leading to wafelek jagodowy by Ashens) might be one of the hardest things for learners actually because people try to hack they way through Polish using their language and they go with trying to slur the digraphs together while they are a different sound altogether from the two letters (it depends, like rz is ż, but sz or cz is like a soft or swishing s or c, but nothing of a z, sz and cz actually do sound like sh as in shoot and ch as in chain from English and they also have nothing to do with that h, then again h is sometimes silent like in honor and sometimes voiced like in holy..) that make it up so it sounds very off. They are also not that easy to pronounce, one Polish tongue twister is "w Szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie" and I once heard an African immigrant to Poland say how when he first came to Poland he felt like everyone is rustling and swishing all the time at him (which is actually accurate with regards to some diacritics), then again, his Polish was really good (he could pass for a native if he wanted IMO) so it's possible.
If not for digraphs then you could probably get away with learning pronunciation of each letter and then gluing/slurring those sounds together into a word. It's much easier than English where spelling is often only tangentially related to pronunciation and adding or taking away a letter somewhere else in the word can change pronunciation of other letters. There may be words that have something weird going on but I can't think of any right now (it might be my native bias though so be careful when hacking Polish that way).
Lots of people say that a spelling contest wouldn't work in their language and except for ó vs u, rz vs ż, ch vs h and some cases where it's hard to say if you heard ę or en, ą or om/on, c or dz at the end of a word (and maybe something else I'm now forgetting) etc. that's true in Polish too. If you say something in Polish a Pole can usually write it down on first try without even thinking about it. E.g. there is a few niche jokes about two fake useless devices called bulbulator and przyczłapnik, these two words are never used except for that joke but their spelling makes 100% sense and if someone heard the joke for the first time they could write it down too, no problem.
 - https://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrylica#Cyrylica_polska
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belarusian_Latin_alphabet
Perhaps, they see the Russian language as a threat to their independence?
It's not a case of people in the Crimea speaking Ukrainian but whether they have the freedom for their own culture. We're not talking people who have lived in a country merely for decades either, we're often talking people that have lived in a country for generations, certainly back in the tsarists period of the Russian Empire.
And as for "racism" - after invading 4th independent country in last 30 years and occupying its territories Russians have somewhat "bad" reputation and justifiably so.
Maybe, but changin the alphabet for your own language won't change the fact that many people are still speaking russian and many people are actually russian nationals.
With Kazakhstan, I can totally see the case for equal status of Russian.
Hell a story on D'Arcy McGee a few days ago mentioned the majority of the population of Montreal was Irish in the late 1800s.
Maybe more accurate is the majority of French speakers are concentrated in southern Quebec?
Even in Ontario, there are people who will only converse in French.
Western Canada, I have never had to use french ever outside of highschool which I dropped French class after the required years.
Alot of us resented being forced to learn French in BC cause practically never used.
You don't need to know any french on the west coast, but it's a requirement in alot of places in eastern canada.
After the aggression, Ukraine switched from Russia being the biggest trading partner to EU being one, it's not as hard as it seems comparing to the threats Russia is accountable for.
We have a small but steady project called "Latynka" for Latin-Ukrainian alphabet and I wish it success http://latynka.tak.today/
It is handy to have a "Lingua Franca" (Frankish language or "French") and at the moment that is generally considered to be English (unless you happen to live in the rather large bits of the world where it isn't).
@vbezhenar is bloody close to fluent in my language. "I'm an ethnic Russian" is better than "I'm ethnical ..." and a few other minor points. Don't forget "the" and "a/an" - in English we don't have the definitive and indefinitive articles built in to our nouns.
I can be barely understood in a few other languages (DE, FR, ES, IT). I live in a small country where Scottish, Irish and Welsh are also considered native languages by some of the locals and with luck Cornish will soon join them.
I believe that if we all spoke the same language then that language would be very boring.
Viva la difference
"I'm ethnical ..." is a perfectly acceptable construction in Russian :) They likely think in Russian. When I was first learning English I had problems with English sentences like "I want them to do it", "Taste of things to come", "They are to be ordained" etc Such constructions are very ungrammatical and illogical in Russian.
¡Viva la diferencia! (Spanish)
I spent 16 years in Chuvashia, accasionly visiting Tatarstan and I have to say that I've never seen any bad treatment over there. Chuvash and Tatar langauges were always mandatory in schools, all text in the streets in both languages, local holidays and so on. Chuvash products were and are always on the shelves in Moscow stores. Same for Tatarstan.
At the same time I remember quite well how russians were treated in Tudjikistan (I was born in Dushanbe) back in the late 80s before thje civil war. This is one of the reasons some of minorities originatin from our asian ex-republics and sometimes North Caucasus get different treatment (usually from older generations).
It makes perfect sense if you want to move away from Russia to dramatically broaden your national potential over time. Russia has a very modest economy versus its population size. Canada and South Korea have overtaken it, and next up Spain, Australia, Mexico and Indonesia will do the same.
There's no hint Russia's economic backwardness is going to change soon. Putin has entirely failed to develop the nation's potential outside of energy. Their GDP per capita has fallen below much of Eastern Europe, including Croatia, Romania, Poland, Hungary, Czech, Slovakia, Slovenia (as well as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania). Russia is ranked around #60 in the world on GDP per capita.
It would be wise of Kazakhstan to limit their dependency on trade with Russia and look to far larger opportunities globally.
The only future Russia can offer Kazakhstan is one of weak dependency, a future in which Russia dreams perpetually of re-acquiring its former empire territories.
Nazi Germany, Japan, and alot of other countrys got drunk on the injustices of the past and used them to justify atrocities in neighbouring countrys. If it were not for the nukes, alot of those nationalist movements would turn into the same pyro-clastic streaming movements we saw in WW2 spilling over borders and running away with civilization.
I raise my glass to the post los alamos world order.
To a lid on the kettle, forcing dictators to thread littly on there neigbhours and house in the dragons they unleash.
Isn't it the Godwin's Law in action? I seriously doubt that getting out of Russian influence means something apocalyptic. Estonia, for instance, does well, and I'm old enough to remember Russian newspapers predicting its collapse without Russian "big brother".
- Dr. Temperance Brennan
That's more appropriate for other Internet forums, as HN seems to value substantive discussions rather than pop-culture references and one-liners.
Nonetheless, GPD rank is ~12
Per-capita rating of countries like India, China is lower (~100). But these are apparently strong economies.
Three decades ago Russia had a literacy rate of like 99%++, while China was at like 60-70%. There was a lot of "free" growth to be had in China (obviously not free) by lifting the population. China's still got room to grow there.
Like a lot of things in economics, trajectory is important (maybe too important, idk).
I think that was the product of the 90s and you can see it still in full swing in Ukraine (African level of GDP). Since those crazy times of societal collapse their GDP PPP per capita actually rose up to the level of Turkey IIRC; without sanctions they would probably be even a bit higher and become even more threatening, which might not be in US+EU's best interests.
My parents' generation in Poland used to speak and read Russian, have Russian friends and so on. The majority of "trade" was also with Russia.
Nowadays, everyone learns English, the new generation doesn't read cyrylic. The trade between us and Russia is a weak shadow of it used to be.
Feels kind of like breaking up with an abusive partner, who kept you under lock for many years, telling you they are the best that can ever happen to you, and that you'll never be happy with anyone else ;)
Changing the alphabet is one of the steps towards building trade and relationships with English-speaking world. Good for them.
Russia pretty much caused Georgia and Ukraine to do it, thanks to the absurd aggression of the Russian mafia government. So surely you can, if there is enough will for it. First major step should be reducing economic dependency.
whatever you say western troll
I guess the number would be lower for rural areas, but even in Kegen (don't ask) I found my way speaking Russian without issue.
The only place in CA where I found people with whom I couldn't communicate in Russian at all was in Tajikistan, including Dushanbe(!).
If you feel yourself and pose yourself as Russian, you are immediately at odds with all the civilized world, associations are clear: Stalin, evil Commies, Putin, occupation of Ukraine, etc. If you are a Kazakhstani of Slavic origin, that's fine, who bothers? You are perceived neutrally. So this is good for you.
I'm gonna ignore political aspects of the switch and focus on pseudo-scientific side. (my personal views and thinking)
Except for words and phrases adopted from arabic or sort of persian (also arabic, but 'persianised'), our language is agglutinative and mostly follows vowel harmony. (that might not tell you much, but basically means we don't need any special letters or stacks of letters to hint the spelling - we have kind of built-in elements of style when it comes to phonetics)
After a long period of using arabic alphabet and brief period of latin-based alphabet (yes, we had that until Stalin decided to change horses midstream - for everyone in ussr), we changed our alphabet to cyrillic. (and when I say 'we', I usually mean soviets did that for us)
While doing so, we just took all of 33 letters from russian alphabet and added our own 'custom' letters. This lead to drastic repercussions, because instead of conforming new words and terms to proper lexical and phonetical rules, we adopted everything literally unchanged from or through russian. (no need to remind you that there were no independent science, culture, or literature)
Fast-forward to our days. We have long and clumsy alphabet. We write and spell letters we don't need, sometimes basically speaking two languages at once (it feels like spanglish or franglais, except we don't always have an alternative - it either sounds awkward, doesn't exist, or is so archaic no one knows or cares for it).
My take is giving up and saying well we sucked dick for 100 years so might as well keep doing it is not the answer.
I personally have no idea if there's a way to pay off the technical debt and fix the upstream. Cyrillic is subjectively harder to read or spell because of all the crufty legacy, and the way I see it we don't have a linguistic institution making decisions and defending the language for the sake of the language and its beauty. (god I envy frenchmen and their zealous protection of la Langue).
I think the ancient Mongolian script possibly worked well because you could write something in a standard way, and the same script worked for any dialect that would read it.
Perhaps modeling your alphabet after the mechanics of a "vowel harmony structure" with a modern facade like Latin characters might work, dunno, I don't know Казак.
In fact, it wouldn't be just adopting, but actually getting back to roots. It's lost history I doubt we'll ever get back. I have no clue what's written on the stele in that wiki article, but I remember seeing someone's 'transliteration' of the text and it's shockingly comprehensible.
There's an element of sticking it to the Russians, an element of exploiting a generational divide unlike other leaders who stuck with their aging power base, and an element of a leader wanting to make a permanent mark on the state, but they mismash into an ambitious scheme that continues Kazakhstan's to be a relevant actor and independent participant in the world stage.
That’s not really the motivation here. English learning has boomed in Kazakhstan for many years now even without a script reform, the younger generations have no problem with the Latin alphabet. Kazakh-language texts on social media are often liberally sprinkled with English phrases in the Latin alphabet regardless of Kazakh itself still being written in Cyrillic.
Using the same alphabet for both languages adds extra convenience and ease to text communication.
I'll say this, for work I travel to Montreal at moderately regular intervals. Because everything is in French, it makes it a bit harder, but I can either: a) infer based off similarities to English words b) look it up as it only has a few unique glyphs versus what I'm accustomed to.
If it is in Latin script, the tourists from countries with Latin-based languages can phonetically butcher whatever it is they're attempting to communicate with the other party.
If it is in Cyrillic script, the tourists from countries with Latin-based languages can just stare at a person blankly or point at words on paper/signage if the other party is close enough. Provided they traveled at all for fear of this scenario.
Honestly, I think it is reasonable to attempt to obtain at least a passing capability to communicate in a foreign area, but the question is why would someone used to a Latin language prefer a similarly derived language vs one with completely different glyphs.
Of course. But would converting Korean to a romanized system somehow change that?
Cyrilic is extremely easy to learn, you can do it in under an hour, and even in Russia most places that tourists interact will have latin and cyrilic versions of the same text (on the metro, etc).
Countries like China are tougher to travel in, but it's not exactly difficult.
Uh, no, that's definitely wrong. Learning Chinese script is a very difficult and time-consuming task. Literacy in Japanese requires about 2,000 characters; literacy in Chinese requires about 5,000.
I modified my comment to better reflect the intention.
English and French are both originated from Latin languages so are similarities.
Try to read Turkish web site: http://www.mfa.gov.tr/default.tr.mfa ,
will its Latin alphabet help you?
The site has English version so you can compare.
But to your example, I'd feel more comfortable fumbling around looking in a English to Turkish book looking for D followed by i without dot (I'm sure it has a better name than that, but furthering the point where vaguely similar glyphs help), followed by s with a protruding curl at bottom (see previous parentheses), etc.
take "Лекарь (doctor), not Пекарь (baker)" from a comment lower in the page, I can't say for certain that I would have known the first two characters in each of the two words were different with maybe it being an analog to capitalization, cursive, italics or some other modification of an individual character.
That's the problem right there. Speaking only one language is super limiting.
I think that is worse here in Australia than in some other parts of the English-speaking world. I mean, in Canada, the obvious choice is French; in parts of the US it is probably Spanish. There is no obvious choice in Australia.
Back in the 1980s, Japan was having a major economic boom, and it was thought that everyone should learn Japanese. Since then, the Japanese economy has been rather sluggish, and now people don't think that so much any more. China is booming, so now people think they should learn Chinese instead. (Although, I think learning Japanese is easier for native English-speakers than learning Chinese–no tones to worry about.)
I can only assume you have never been to francophone or lusaphone Africa or many Latin American countries. Yes, if you search you might be able to find an intelligentsia that can manage some English, but the majority of people you meet will expect to communicate in French, Spanish or Portuguese.
No, seriously, the level of English in those countries is sometimes so low that you won’t even be able to obtain the most rudimentary things. In francophone Africa, even French is sometimes limited only to the upper classes. (In Madagascar, for instance, French disappears as soon as you leave the capital city and people generally speak solely Malagasy from then on.)
Only a person who hasn’t actually traveled on every continent will believe that English (or even other languages) is widely enough spoken now to always get by. There is a reason that that "point to the picture" phrase book is still published and loads of travelers swear by it.
With a language if you don't use it you forget it.
It's a completely different proposition if you're somewhere rural.
So as soon as you 'pick one language' you are talking about two languages, your birth tongue and another one. This was not the case with the comment I replied to so either you are off-topic or you really are confused. So I guess you are off-topic then rather than confused?
If anything, I’d say the initial statement of the limited nature of speaking a single language was off-topic. True, yes, on topic, not so sure.
Can you make out anything in this article other than personal names?
I'm not sure that that applies very well to cyrillic vs latin though. IIRC cyrillic is still under ~50 unique characters, so a dictionary would essentially need an index to tell you what the alphabetic ordering is, and then I think you'd be set (as well as you can be with just a dictionary, at least).
Technical words, recent inventions, sports and brand names tend to be straightforward transliterations. Plus more are borrowed. Take Russian words like диносавр, Макдоналдс, киоск, and гамбургер. You probably have no idea what they mean, but the direct transliterations are dinosavr, Makdonalds, kiosk, and gamburger are a little easier to guess?
Not every word by any means. For example refrigerator is холодильник (roughly xolodinьik though the initial sound is not in English). Which literally translates as "cold making thing". But enough to be helpful more often than you'd guess.
From this experience I would be weary of any words that sound similar to English in a foreign language.
Also, холодильник would be transliterated something like kholodeelnik.
But you always have to be aware of "false friends". Russian магазин (magazin) does not mean what one might think it does.
Just goes to show that even between English and French, same alphabet or not, just because a word looks familiar it does not mean that one can guess the meaning correctly.
And even if you do - you will be reading it letter by letter, while even foreign latin-based script you can read almost as fast as your own language.
That's what I meant by the big difference between the two. Switching from Chinese characters like Vietnam did isn't the same effect as switching from a Cyrillic alphabet which is much simpler.
1. far easier to look up a word you don't know in a dictionary
2. you can make a stab at pronouncing the word
3. you can type it in on your western laptop/phone you brought with you
My laptop flips to French fairly regularly (machine was created with an image containing French and English keyboards) and it is frustrating as it is only easier in the sense that it is poking around for the 1 key to find e with grave or the like vs playing with keystrokes until I land on alt+0232 on numpad.
Phones with touchscreen keyboards though, yeah, I could see that being reasonably okay.
Typing Armenian was a non-starter. I'm not dyslexic, but felt it when faced with words that looked like "արարողակարգը" (random copy-paste from Wikipedia).
The second language was often Russian, and typing in Cyrillic was a little better, especially once I found the alphabet is derived from Greek rather than Latin -- so р is r, and н is e, and п is p. But it was still 10 times slower than typing rough Vietnamese into my phone.
But anyway, this is clearly a political change, so any reasoning in favour or opposition is irrelevant.
 https://hy.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D5%80%D5%A1%D5%B5%D5%A5%D6%80... (Armenian Alphabet in Armenian).
https://design.canonical.com/2011/08/alphabet-development/ has a small diagram including Greek, Cyrillic and Latin.
Going the other direction, Hungarians can learn many European languages easier than Russian, because the script is the same, which makes orthography and pronunciation easier to reason about, and vocabulary easier to acquire.
Protecting themselves from Russian insurgency, among other reasons. Kazakhstan had protected themselves before, shutting down Russian-inspired "People Republic".
According to the article there is 20% of ethnic Russians and more fluent Russian speakers (94%) than Kazakh speakers (74%).
Russian is also a co-official language in Kazkhstan and I can't find anything about getting rid of that.
Latin (and Cyrillic) alphabet is also no cipher.
It's easy to learn one when you know the other, the shapes are similar, some letters are shared (some with same, some with different sounds), etc. The difference could be even said to be cosmetic at best, unlike Korean, Chinese or Arabic scripts that are completely different shapes and styles and hand moves when writing and so on.
If you learn Russian in a Polish school as a second foreign language (second to German or English, as I did) it goes at a snail's pace of two or three lesson per week but Cyrillic is like a month or two of that at best.
Any Russian who knows at all any of the big western languages (Spanish, French, German, English) or one of the right Slavic ones (the ones not using only Cyrillic in their writing) also already knows the Latin script.
Moldova and Azerbaijan using Latin script didn't help with Transnistria and Artsakh at all.
Georgian script is also nothing like Cyrillic or Latin (I know them both but at Georgian I can only stare blankly) but that hasn't helped with Abkhazia or South Ossetia.
If a Russian spy, insurgent or whatever wants to blend in, operate or whatever somewhere, he probably can do it easier in Kazakhstan than in those disputed regions.
If anything, sidelining Russian artificially because "Latin = West = good = we want" is only giving Russia a really good excuse of caring about ethnic Russians (not that they needed any big one like that for Crimea where Cyrillic and Russian weren't sidelined at all).
It's also bad from a practicality standpoint, forcing everyone to pick up Latin script suddenly (while before now the two main languages used the same one) and paying for replacing all the plaques and official books and documents and such. It won't help tourists either, if you don't know Kazakh then you just don't. I can read Cyrillic and can read some Russian very slowly by my crappy basic skills from school years and using Polish as a crutch but I can't read Kazakh at all.
You can clutch your way between very many European languages (and the Cyrillic/Latin split in the Slavic group is the only major roadblock in a single group to doing this that I know of, as in - the script is the big problem, not the language itself) but looking at Kazakh is as good as looking at Turkish or Vietnamese or Malay or transcribed Chinese. You get maybe an occasional global-y word like hamburger, pizza, republic or computer at best.
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgian_scripts
Look at the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. Russia was succeeded to instigate an insurgency there mostly because people there were heavily influenced by Russian propaganda.
And I assume after those events Kazakhstan had additional incentive to go further away from Russia.
This is playing with fire.
There's no protections from that kind of behaviour.
Less subconscious negative feeling from Latin-alphabet-users? It's a linguistic version of website moving to "flat" UI design.
For example it doesn't cover Italian, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Czech, Vietnamese, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic, Irish, Occitan, Croatian, etc...
Dutch, like English, is almost ASCII, though there are things like "één".
It does cover Malay though: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malay_alphabet
> French (accents can be dropped)
What? No! See for example https://french.stackexchange.com/a/24410
In Italian, however, accents are only on the last letter of a word so they are usually replaced with apostrophes if your keyboard lacks them (in fact even on an Italian keyboard È is usually typed as E'; most word processors autocorrect it).
Anyway, for example "a" and "à" are homophones. As are "la" and "là".
A nice one is "chasse"/"châsse". Both are pronounced \ʃas\ but the first one means "hunt", the latter one means "reliquary".
Is there an issue with Turkish scholarship of history since Ataturk pushed Latin-based alphabet?
But that's why we have printing presses that make translations into contemporary scripts and vernaculars.
Before things were ancient, they were contemporary. Not teaching older scripts to everybody =/= no one knows older scripts.