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Central Standard

KU Linguist Transforms How The Kazakh Language Is Written

James Hill
Creative Commons, Flickr


Languages change. Sometimes slowly and organically, sometimes quickly... and on purpose.

Kazakh President Nursaltan Nazarbayev wants the people of Kazakhstan to use Latin script (rather than Cyrillic) to write in their native language.

Citing the concerns of young people who want to use their western keypads to text more easily, and eager to de-Russianize the Kazakh language while globalizing his country's economy, Nazarbayev has made the transformation of the language a key part of his political platform.

A University of Kansas professor of linguistics has been instrumental in that process.

On Central Standard, host Gina Kaufmann spoke with Allard Jongman about his relationship with the Kazakh people and their language. We learned how our mouths form words, and how linguists break down languages into their simplest, most elemental pieces.

Want to know how you say "eeeee," as in "feet"? That's part of the conversation, too. 


People don't make cameos in news stories; the human story is the story, with characters affected by news events, not defined by them. As a columnist and podcaster, I want to acknowledge what it feels like to live through this time in Kansas City, one vantage point at a time. Together, these weekly vignettes form a collage of daily life in Kansas City as it changes in some ways, and stubbornly resists change in others. You can follow me on Twitter @GinaKCUR or email me at gina@kcur.org.
Matthew Long-Middleton has been a talk-show producer, community producer, Media Training Manager and now the Community Engagement Manager at KCUR. You can reach him at Matthew@kcur.org, or on Twitter @MLMIndustries.