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Sociolinguistic Transition in Former Eastern Bloc Countries

Two Decades after the Regime Change

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Edited By Marián Sloboda, Petteri Laihonen and Anastassia Zabrodskaja

This volume offers empirical perspectives on the current sociolinguistic situations in former Eastern Bloc countries. Its seventeen chapters analyse phenomena such as language choice, hierarchies and ideologies in multilingualism, language policies, minority languages in new legal, educational, business and migratory contexts, as well as the position of English in the region. The authors use various methodological approaches – including surveys, discourse analyses, descriptions and analyses of linguistic landscapes, and ethnography – in order to deal with sociolinguistic issues in eight countries and seven regions, from Brandenburg, Germany, in the West to Sakhalin, Russia, in the East.

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Sholpan Zharkynbekova & Damira Akynova - Ethnic minorities in Kazakhstan: Analysis of language preferences among high school students

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Sholpan Zharkynbekova & Damira Akynova

Ethnic minorities in Kazakhstan: Analysis of language preferences among high school students

1 Introduction

The significant changes in the political, economic, and social spheres that have occurred over the past two decades in Kazakhstan have affected the country’s ethnic composition. In turn, this has led to a significant transformation of the language situation in general. The linguistic diversity of Kazakhstan is very high; nevertheless, two ethnic groups (Kazakh and Russian) dominate (Suleimenova, Shaimerdenova, & Akanova 2007). According to Smagulova (2008), the current shape of the ethnolinguistic space has been determined by several historical factors, including: (1) the emigration of socially active and mobile people from the country (return migration), which has led to a sharp decrease in the Russian-speaking population (e.g., Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, and others); (2) a significant inflow of Kazakh immigrants, mainly from China and Mongolia, most of whom do not have reading and writing skills in literary Kazakh and do not speak fluent Russian; (3) an increase in the Turkic population, due to the growth of the proportion of Kazakhs (natural growth) and the immigration of Uzbeks, Uyghurs, Turks, and Azeris, who form compact communities; and (4) the effect of urbanisation on the increase in Kazakh language competence in towns.

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