Russian Language Journal


Kazakhstan, ethnic groups, homelands, languages, Russia


The image of Kazakhstan as a multilingual country is associated with the metonymic identification of its constituent ethnic groups and 117 local languages. The dynamics of the linguistic situation (1970-2019) indicate a strong tendency towards linguistic homogeneity. Ethnic groups at demographic risk, divorced from their historic homelands, are immersed in a rapid shift towards the Russian language. The demonstrated vitality of the languages of individual ethnic groups is related to the specifics of their respective proficiencies in Kazakh and Russian. Evidence of the emergence of a regional variant of the Russian language is cited and carefully reviewed, but found to be insufficient at the present time to recognize the presence of a codified ‘Kazakh’ variant of Russian. Instead, Russian is shown to exhibit normativity, codification, multifunctionality and rich stylistic differentiation in the media, business, scientific, political, cultural and educational spheres of Kazakhstan.

There is continuing high demand for Russian within Kazakh society both in the non-regulated spheres of public communication as well as in official spheres, where the use of Russian increases with the complexity of the domains under discussion. The article “The Russian Flagship in Kazakhstan: Transformative Learning in a Russian-speaking Environment” demonstrates that within this context Kazakh-Russian bilingualism is well-supported, and provides a favorable, acquisition rich environment for the study of Russian within a multi-ethnic state. Keywords: pyramid of the languages of Kazakhstan, language shift, regional language variants, transformative learning