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Sociolinguistic Transition in Former Eastern Bloc Countries

Two Decades after the Regime Change


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 & Aliya Aimoldina - The role of English language in the context of new language policy implementation in Kazakhstan


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Sholpan Zharkynbekova & Aliya Aimoldina

The role of English in the context of new language policy implementation in Kazakhstan

1 Introduction

Fundamental changes in the social, political, and economic life of Kazakhstan have taken place over the last twenty years, which have had a major influence on the development of various fields, including the role and the place of foreign languages in intercultural and transnational communication. Moreover, the functioning of at least three languages (Kazakh, Russian, and English) in the context of modern Kazakhstan’s sociolinguistic space creates a unique situation related to the targeted state language policy that promotes the idea of citizens’ multilingualism (more specifically “trilingualism”) as one of the most important conditions of social and economic modernization (Nazarbayev 2012). In this regard, there is an exceptional need for a comprehensive study of how English functions in the development of Kazakhstan as a multi-ethnic region, in the identification of the population’s readiness to adapt to new social and cultural conditions, and how the language has affected geographic, ethnic, demographic, and other non-linguistic factors. Based on an analysis of active ethno-linguistic processes and an assessment of language preferences, it is important to rethink the traditional concept of language policy established in the newly independent Kazakhstan.

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