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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. 



Gina Kaufmann is the host of Real Humans By Gina Kaufmann. You can reach her on Twitter, @GinaKCUR.
Matthew Long-Middleton has been a talk-show producer, community producer and now is the Media Training Manager with America Amplified. You can reach him at, or on Twitter.