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President Nazarbaev decree spells out changes in new Latin alphabet: no apostrophe

President Nazarbaev decree spells out changes in new Latin alphabet: no apostrophe

Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbaev issued an order, which abolishes apostrophes in new Latin alphabet.

Kazakh new Latin-based alphabet is to replace Cyrillic in the Central Asian country, and new changes came under severe criticism from linguists. President has been talking about switching to Latin for years, and the effort gathered momentum in April 2017, when he ordered authorities to come up with a new alphabet for the Kazakh language by the end of the year.

On February 20, Kazakh President approved a new version of a Latin-based alphabet that removes apostrophes for several sounds in the Kazakh language and replaces them with diacritical signs above letters. The new alphabet apparent effort to emphasize the distancing of Kazakhstan from Russia.

According to Nazarbayev’s decree signed in October, President sets out plans to make the switch by 2025.

New Latin-based alphabet in Kazakhstan: harsh criticism by linguists

But the alphabet published at the time was harshly criticized by linguists, who complained that apostrophes divided some words into four or five parts, making them impossible to read. The chairman of the Culture Ministry’s committee for languages, Quat Borashev, said the new version will “make it much easier to write and read in Kazakh.”

Information and Communications Minister Dauren Abaev told reporters in Astana on February 20 that Nazarbaev agreed to abolish the apostrophes following recommendations by IT specialists and other experts.

It is worth to note that former Central Asian Soviet republics Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan — which, like Kazakhstan, are Turkic-speaking nations — abandoned Cyrillic scripts and switched to Latin-based alphabets in the early years after the Soviet breakup.