Kazakh now spoken by 70% of the population, government plans to increase this to 95% by 2020

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

An article here in Turkish today approves of plans within Kazakhstan to increase the number of people that speak Kazakh, no surprise given that Kazakh is also a Turkic language and extremely easy for Turks to learn.

The Kazakhstan Minister of Culture Muhtar Kul-Muhammed said that 95% of the population in Kazakhstan would speak Kazakh by 2020. Muhtar Kul-Muhammed made a presentation at a government meeting called the 'Kazakh Development Plan 2011-2020' which aims to have some courses offered in Kazakh at every university.

He also said that Kazakh would also have to be taught at kindergartens and foreign language schools. At the moment 70% of the population is capable of speaking in Kazakh whereas 90% know Russian. Bakan Kul-Muhammed said that "Of course I'm not claiming that everyone throughout the country will be able to talk in Kazakh to a certain extent, but we will do our best."

President Nursultan Nazarbayev has also ordered that starting in 2010 all films to be shown in theatres with subtitles must have them in Kazakh. According to the Kazakhistan constitution the Kazakh language is the national language, and Russian remains an official language.
In actual numbers, increasing that number from 70% to 95% and allowing for population growth (1.2% per year, thus an extra 2 million over a decade) would mean an extra six million speakers of Kazakh over a decade, so from 11 million or so to about 17 million. Plus another 100,000 or so Kazakhs in Bayan-Ölgii in Mongolia, of course.

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