Language and ethnic identity

Bagila Akhatova

Kazakh university of international relations and world languages, Kazakhstan


This paper is focused on results of research of social-political factors (political situation, social factors, life conditions and mentality) and their influence on language using in Kazakhstan political discourse.

Up-to-date language situation in Kazakhstan is analyzed in the light of vitality of Kazakh language and the consequent development of Russian-Kazakh bilingualism as well (Suleimenova 2001). Bilingualism is the integral and necessary part of language policy in Kazakhstan.

In multinational Kazakhstan almost all the population knows and uses Russian as the language of international communication. The level of knowledge of the mother tongue is different: some respondents didn’t mention their native language as the dominant one, although they identify themselves with their ethnic group. Belonging to some or other ethnos doesn’t depend on knowing mother tongue. The language situation in Kazakhstan can be characterized as bilingualism and as result of it, as biculturalism. The language consciousness of Russian speakers (who stated Russian as their native and/or dominant language) and Kazakh speakers (who stated Kazakh as their native and/or dominant language) has been surveyed.

Although the consciousness of Russian speaking respondents has been mediated by Russian culture, they can’t be identified as representatives of exceptionally Russian culture. It means that language consciousness of representatives of ethnic culture forms during the process of enculturation and acculturation, so the process of adopting of cultural norms, values, traditions and customs of the native culture and the culture of other nation (as a result of intercommunication of these nations).

The differences in language consciousness of Kazakh speaking and Russian speaking Kazakh people (found out in the process of analysis of language consciousness kernel of the respondents prove the different reflection of surrounding reality in their consciousness). For encouraging the ethnic identity Russian speaking Kazakhs need profound studying and knowledge of their mother tongue because language is a tool for discovering the world of native culture.

Session: POSTERS:Focus on language policy, literacy, education, identity
Saturday, April 5, 2008, 13:00-15:45
room: foyer