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Kazakhstan changes its alphabet for the second time in a year after uproar over new apostrophes

Kazakhstan is changing its alphabet for the second time in a year after the previous one proved unpopular.
The central Asian country’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev replaced the Cyrillic alphabet with a Latin-based one in October last year.
The move was seen as an attempt to distance the country, which was formerly part of the Soviet Union, from Russian influence.
ut the new system, which had 32 letters and used apostrophes to denote distinct sounds, was greeted with derision and complaints it made reading and writing more complicated.
According the Eurasianet news website, Nazarbayev suddenly signed a decree bringing in the alphabet during what was meant to be a consultation on several proposed versions.
The offending apostrophes have now been replaced by accents, adopting the same system as nearby Turkmenistan.
The new alphabet comes despite the government recently embarking on a publicity campaign extoling the virtues of the old one.
It will be gradually rolled out over seven years though some businesses and shops as well as some local authorities had already begun using the original replacement alphabet.
The latest alphabet is also bad news for the Arqalyq Habary newspaper which began publishing with the new alphabet, but will now have to change again.
Although Kazakh has been the state language since Kazakhstan became independent in 1991, only 62 percent of the population said they were fluent in both written and spoken Kazakh during a the most recent national census in 2009.
Russian is more widespread with 85 percent claiming fluency in the same census. Russian is recognised as an official language in Kazakhstan.
The oil-rich former Soviet republic of 18 million has very close ties with Moscow, its main trading partner, but is also wary of Russia’s ambitions to maintain its political influence throughout the region.
Several other Turkic nations, including Turkey itself, ex-Soviet Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, have also switched to Latin alphabets.

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