A Study on Language Competence and Use by Ethnic Kyrgyz People in Post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan: Results from Interviews

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In this article the author discusses the case of Kyrgyzstan and examines the language use of ethnic Kyrgyz people. Based on the results of semi-structured interviews with thirteen ethnic Kyrgyz people, features of Kyrgyz language use are clarified. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the titular languages of each ex-Soviet state were promoted as ‘state languages’ and positioned as a symbol of national integration. Previous studies on this topic indicate the tendency that the influence of each state language is growing, while the role of Russian language which enjoyed the highest prestige during the Soviet era is shrinking. Details of the dynamics of the relationship between state language and Russian language in each state, however, have not been fully discussed. Through the analysis of interviews, the author will attempt to clarify three characteristics of the language competence and use of language by ethnic Kyrgyz people, namely, 1) diversity in language competence among ethnic Kyrgyz people; 2) aralash (mix) use of Kyrgyz and Russian; and 3) language use in relation to ethnicity. In conclusion, based on these results, the author will discuss the features of state language in the context of Kyrgyzstan.


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