The language issue has become a stumbling block in Kyrgyzstan. Especially often it rises before the elections, when it is advantageous to score political points. Development of the state language is necessary, it is a fact. But is it worth to infringe the official language, which status is established in the main document of the country - the Constitution? The answer to this question is obvious, but, nevertheless, numerous civil activists, MPs and politicians are increasingly urge to abandon the use of Russian language, because they see a major threat to the development of the Kyrgyz language in it.
"Do not be nationalists," the President Almazbek Atambayev responds to such attacks and cites the example of Ukraine, where the "Russian language was deprived of official status and excluded from life".
"This should be an example for us, -the head of state notes. - Many nationalists now call for the performances to be made only in the Kyrgyz language. We must maintain the state language, but do not need to do a show and we mustn't admit the development of state language to lead to nationalism. The most important thing for us - the unity of peoples," Atambayev stated.
He urged not to force learning state language; otherwise "even Kyrgyz children will be afraid of it".
These quite relevant statements of the President appear in center of public attention again and cause emotional disputes.
24.kg news agency asked the respondents to tell which approach is right to study the state language - the carrot or the stick.
Attokur Dzhapanov, professor, linguist:
- Politicians speak of nationalism again, but the Kyrgyz have never been nationalists, even if we look it under a microscope. Wife of Manas was Tajik. In the history of Kyrgyzstan the first ladies were Tatar, Uigur, Kalmyk, Russian, Jewish ...
As for the language, any person living in Kyrgyzstan, must know Kyrgyz language. Otherwise (s)he is mankurt. If Kyrgyz lives in Russia and do not know Russian, he is also mankurt, living in the U.S, for example, he must know English. Any governor, minister, deputy must know the state language. If you do not the state language in some countries, you're considered to be of the second class, and people speak about openly. Now we all need to know three languages, it is imperative of our era. However, you can never force somebody to learn language. Kyrgyz language is elementary, just go to attend courses. We just do not want to do that. We haven't any Kyrgyz language specialists. And this is a great language, fine. Our politicians, if something happens, immediately affect linguistic topic, especially before elections. They would be better to leave the language alone.
Omurbek Abdyrakhmanov, the Kyrgyz MP:
- We can't understand our president: he says either the "sky", or the "earth". He does not have a whole policy on all issues - either on the reform of the state, or language issues, and education as well.
There is no dispute: the state language should take its place. It is the first thing. And secondly, we need to know at least two languages - Russian and English. But Kyrgyz will work in case of using it in education, better culture and technology. Then everyone speak Kyrgyz. And if becomes everyday, outdated, nationalist, then, of course, any insistence to learn it won't give any results. This requires the will of the state. And democratic countries don't infringe upon any of the languages.
Zamira Derbisheva, one of the developers of the National Program on State Language, the Head of the Association of Teachers of Russian Language and Literature in Kyrgyzstan:
- Forced learning of language is impossible in any case. Actually the National program on State Language Development and Improvement of Language Policy in the Kyrgyz Republic for 2014-2020 came as a reaction to the attempts of Parliament to make people learn Kyrgyz language by force, by punitive sanctions. We will never get a result, if we impose the language. First of all, it is necessary to create the conditions when the language to be in real demand, when there is a need, a necessity. Language should be used as a tool to improve life, social status. For example, to get a good education in that language, to achieve a certain career stages. This is the real motivation mechanism of learning any language.
We laid in our national program exactly all of these mechanisms, when every citizen of the Kyrgyz Republic himself, on his own initiative, will learn the state language and the official one, as well as English. Because all they will act in those areas, where people seeking to improve their quality of life, social status and material welfare. If up to now this was achieved by learning such languages as Russian and English, now we introduced the state language in the program. Kyrgyz will be equally in demand as Russian and English. At the same time it is known that today almost all of the rural (70 percent) population (70 percent) doesn't speak Russian. They will be given the opportunity and conditions to learn the Russian language. The program lays the foundations for real bilingualism.
- At what stage is the implementation of the program today?
- It was supposed to start in 2014. But due to certain circumstances it was delayed, half of 2014 comes to an end, it is necessary to adjust plans. Today we are developing a framework for independent testing on state language. We need to lay and describe the principles and requirements for each level of the language, prepare material and training base, manuals, dictionaries, test questions.
Gulmira Dyisheeva, a senior lecturer of the Kyrgyz language, AUCA:
- Just carrot. Nobody should be forced, it is useless. Really interested, motivated person will speak with the support of an experienced teacher.
One of the main tasks of a teacher - to be able to support and strengthen the desire to learn the language without causing rejection. I know that the teachers immediately give complex dialogs, without explaining the meaning of words and grammar, or blame for the failures in the study of the same students.
To learn to speak a language a teacher should know and love their subject. Experienced teacher, primarily, will help students to overcome the language barrier and create a friendly atmosphere in the classroom, so it was interesting to do it.
Mars Cherikchiev, a member of the Public Oversight Board under the Ministry of Economy:
- Many countries have two state languages or more that does not prevent them to develop. For example, there is bilingualism in Canada, Switzerland has four languages, plus Rhaeto-Romanic, which does not prevent citizens to live and work. The modern world, the world of international competition, requires knowing other languages, in addition to native language as Russian, English and Chinese. Of course, we need to know our mother tongue, but claims to those who do not know it, I believe, are unfounded. For development of the state language in Kyrgyzstan we should, at first, raise the level of self-consciousness. When an official speaks in the parliament and is criticized for his language skills and personal qualities rather than his work and professionalism, I think it's a problem of self-awareness of people and deputies, first of all, who should be the main examples of morality throughout the whole society.
We need to create the conditions for our population to start learning the state language, and only then demand. If I had not studied in Kyrgyz school, I wouldn't know where to go and begin to learn the native language. Speaking about the conditions, I mean free courses, tutorials for the population, educational computer programs and other activities on promotion of the language. Also it is useful to introduce a system of rewards and incentives for government officials. For example, a supplement wages for knowledge of languages. But one can't be forced in any case.
Shairbek Mamatoktorov, "OshTV" General Director:
-We got used to that the president sometimes speaks inexplicably. It is planned to allocate 476 million soms for implementation of the national program. But this is not the first attempt of the authorities to implement such initiatives. Previously two programs for the development of the state language were implemented and means were also allocated. But they are not met, and it isn't known how funds were spent. Where is the guarantee that these 476 million will be spent for this purpose?
The President must show respect for the state language, and not try to please Putin and speak in Russian.
We mustn't force anyone. Many want to do and are looking for ways to learn Kyrgyz language. Others do not want to study it. Neither these nor those are reproached. It is a matter of everyone. As for the officials, then they must know state language. But the level of knowledge of those who brags that he knows the Kyrgyz language can be described as poor colloquial.
Galina Vasilkova, Associate Professor of the Kyrgyz language, KRSU:
-President offers wise things. He is sympathetic to all of us and does not want Kyrgyz language to be the sword of Damocles. Some officials do it for spin, put the official language as a bargaining chip. Today, he takes care of the state language, but when he gets to the chair of official, calms down. So what for did you fuss over? For the people or for the sake of you own ambitions?
After all, we need to develop the state language in Russian-speaking environment?
- Yes, we do. We are not sillier than others. But why, renouncing the development of Kyrgyz language, we seem to show contempt and arrogance of the indigenous population, representatives of the titular nation? Knowing of the state language itself is necessary for Russian speakers, first of all. To show our tolerance, that we want to live in peace with people of the Kyrgyz Republic, that we are united. Who is prudent, he recognizes this. This is elementary. Why we, for example, strive for studying English, French, but why we don't want to hear and understand the speech of our neighbor? I would advise everyone to take an interest. Nothing should be done under compulsion. If to impose penalties forcibly, then it will be impossible to teach.
And if we start teaching language slowly, by small steps, from kindergarten, children will start getting used to hear this speech. A child, like a sponge, can imbibe several languages. And over the years he would study the Kyrgyz at a higher level. And it would be as a second language.