In the twentieth century the identity of Kazakhstan and the Kazakh people has been closely intertwined with the identity of Russia and the Russian people. Since Kazakhstan began to move toward sovereignty in the late 1980s, official republic documents relevant to language have reflected attempts to redefine republic and ethnic identity. This study traces the evolution of images of identity through examination of the title of language laws, legally declared status for Kazakh, Russian, and other languages, linguistic requirements for employment, and differential treatment of Kazakhs and non-Kazakhs. The continuing debate on language demonstrates that even though Kazakhstan is now an independent country, fundamental questions remain about its identity.

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