While the state authorities racing each other change the signs in a new Latin alphabet and the publishers publish books overnight, the people still hope for the cancellation of the apostrophes. I was included in several groups in WhatsApp and in Messenger, where with great enthusiasm a discussion of various variants of the Latin alphabet are conducted. The debates are attended by simple philistines and eminent authorities in Kazakh literature and grammar. In general, people believe and prepare.
According to my observations, now there are three groups among the supporters of the Latin alphabet.
The first group (I call them “Englishmen”) has set as its goal to fit the new Kazakh alphabet into 26 letters of the English alphabet. In this regard, this group was automatically divided into “digraphists” (supporters of the designation of specific Kazakh sounds with double letters, for example, “saebiz”) and “apostrophists” (who support the current official version with the word “s’yg’s”).
I must admit that this group has arguments in favor of its version. The main one is that Kazakhstanis do not have to re-make keyboards on all types of computers, laptops, etc., and also do not have to create different fonts for own graphics. It really makes life of Kazakhstan Internet users easier. In addition, English-speaking foreigners will not have to be stumped in front of incomprehensible letters with “tails” and “caps”.
However, the “English” version has its drawbacks. Digraphs are read by native speakers of the English language quite differently than Kazakhs would like. For example, the combination of “oe” in the words “oenology” (winemaking), “oedema” (edema), etc. pronounced “and” or “ah”; the combination of “gh” in the words “ghost” (ghost), “ghetto” (ghetto), etc. is pronounced as “g”. At the same time, the Kazakhs themselves will have to get used to the new writing. Not to mention the fact that some combinations of letters, for example, as in the word “saebiz” (carrot), cause difficulties in reading for the native speakers themselves.
As for the apostrophes, their application was caused by a flurry of criticism in the Kazakh segment of the Internet. First, because no common language of the world uses it as a diacritical mark. In general, it is used as a disconnecting (connecting) sign. For example, in the Italian word “l’opera” (opera), the article “la” merged with the basic word “opera”, and they were separated by an apostrophe. Or, for example, in the French word “d’Artagnan”, the preposition “de” merged with the basic word beginning with a vowel, and they were divided by an apostrophe. Secondly, it is the above apostrophe function that will not allow English-speaking readers to perceive Kazakh letters with apostrophes as new letters. They simply will not be able to read such words, as they will stumble on apostrophes. Thirdly, apostrophes will complicate the use of the Kazakh language in the Internet space. The point is that in all the widely used programs in the world the apostrophe is perceived not as part of a letter, but as a punctuation mark, respectively, for example, in hash tags on an apostrophe the word will end, and the rest of the word will be considered a new word. Fourthly, the use of apostrophes in smartphones is complicated by the fact that every time you need to print letters with an apostrophe, you need to switch the keyboard to a layout with signs, and then return to the alphabetic keyboard again. Because of this, the number of actions and, accordingly, the time for printing certain words can increase up to three times.
All these and other shortcomings of apostrophes are now actively discussed in social networks.
The second group of supporters of the transition of the Kazakh alphabet to the Latin alphabet (I call them “Turkists”) suggest nevertheless to include special letters in the new alphabet, but to use the notations already adopted in related languages. For example, they suggest replacing the letter “Ғғ” with “Ğğ”, which is used in Turkish, Azerbaijani, Tatar, Crimean Tatar to indicate a similar sound. They suggest to replace “Shsh” with “Şş”, which is used in Turkish, Azerbaijani, Romanian, Kurdish, Turkmen and other languages. And so on.
There are several advantages of this option. First, the goal is to create an alphabet on the principle of “one letter – one sound.” This is the cherished dream of many philologists and ordinary users of the language. Although few people in the world have managed to achieve it. Even in English, a number of sounds are designated by digraphs: “ch”, “sh”, “th”, etc. Secondly, the use of special signs already used by the Turkic-speaking countries (and this is about 170 million people on Earth) facilitates integration with these countries. Thirdly, the use of signs already applied by such a developed country as Turkey will facilitate the technical adaptation of various fonts to the Kazakh language (we do not have to draw them ourselves).
This option has also a disadvantage: the use of special characters from the additional Latin script pushes us slightly away from the goal to create an understandable and readable by English-speaking foreigners Kazakh alphabet. Not all Americans, Portugueses, Spaniards will understand the Turkish letters. In addition, the Kazakhs themselves will at first be used to new letters, as previously they were not used by us.
The third group (I call them “authenticists”) advocates the preservation of old notations of specific sounds in the new Kazakh alphabet. For example, they propose to keep the authentic letters “Әә”, “Өө”, “Үү”, “Ұұ”, “Ққ”. The logic is clear: if you cannot keep alphabet using only Latin letters, and still have to use special signs, why not leave the letters familiar to all Kazakhs?
The advantages of this option are: already mentioned habitual application of these letters, as well as preservation of originality and originality of Kazakh script.
There are several disadvantages of this option. Firstly, when reading these letters, we lose as readers even those few 170 million Turkic-speaking users in the world, not to mention other English-speaking citizens. Secondly, we will have to independently create the outlines of our specific letters for hundreds of already existing fonts in the world. Thirdly, we still will not be able to keep the usual notation for all specific sounds. For example, the letter “Ғғ” can not be used in the previous role, since it is too similar to the Latin letter “Ff”. Or the letter “Ңң” is similar to the Latin letter “Hh”. Such similarities will cause confusion.
Thus, each of the variants of the new Latin script has advantages and disadvantages. However, you need to see the whole picture as a whole to make the right decision. I tried to do it by collecting all the pros and cons of each option. I hope that my systematization will help to put in order a lot of discussions taking place now in the society. I am also ready to replenish this text with new arguments “for” and “against” each of the options, if I’m prompted by readers.
P.S. There is a fourth option – combining letters from different directions. And also a lot of sub-variants with the correction of individual letters in each alphabet. In this case, I wanted to identify three main options, like principles, as the direction of the train of thought. I think that they are all subject to discussion.
P.P.S. We need to continue the discussion. I believe that all this is not meaningless.