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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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Maganat Shegebayev - Linguistic diversity and business communication in today’s Kazakhstan

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Maganat Shegebayev

Linguistic diversity and business communication in today’s Kazakhstan

1 Current situation

As Blommaert & Rampton (2011) state in their work on language and superdiversity, “there is a growing awareness that over the past two decades, globalization has altered the face of social, cultural and linguistic diversity in societies all over the world” (p. 2). Kazakhstan is not an exception to this trend. Its population has shown to be versatile in language use, especially in vibrant urban areas; yet Kazakh and Russian are the most used ones. The current dual-language reality is enshrined in the main law. Article 7 of the Constitution of the Republic designates Kazakh as the state language; Russian is officially used in government organizations and local self-government bodies.

The languages spoken and language policies have long been in the focus of attention for many researchers in the field. Thus, reporting on the role of the Russian language in Kazakhstan, Vdovina (2008) provides the following numbers which also include some other relevant data on languages and population:

• Approximately 130 ethnicities live in Kazakhstan.

• The total population is 15.1 million people (2007):1 8.9 million Kazakhs (58.6%); 4.56 million Slavs (30.2%); and other ethnic groups totaling 1.64 million people (11.2%).

• The first law on languages that defined the status of Kazakh and Russian was adopted in 1989.

As the same source states, 63% of respondents consider themselves fluent...

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