The article regards the problem of the linguistic identity of Kazakh youth from interethnic Kazakh-Russian families. A survey of respondents aged 18–21 shows the difficulties in linguistic self-determination of the individual. Nevertheless, a significant part of respondents identifies themselves with the linguistic correlation of the father due to the traditional dominant role of the father in the Kazakh family, a slightly smaller number of respondents chooses the nationality of the mother. Anthropological characteristics and language are important factors in choosing ethnic identity. Most students from multi-ethnic families are bilingual, they are equally fluent in two languages. The study highlights the types of relationship between linguistic and ethnic identity of bilingual personality. The correlation between linguistic and ethnic identity is identical in 56/62.9 % of respondents, not coinciding in 33/37 % of respondents.
Until recently, the concept of identity was hardly used, it was not the subject of close study, either theoretical or empirical. Moreover, this concept was found neither in monographic studies nor in journal articles, it could be learned only by studying late editions of psychological dictionaries. However, despite the interest in this concept and the appearance of a number of works on identity, it is impossible to talk about the presence of a certain categorical apparatus in the presented term.
Speaking of identity, we can talk about the feeling that arises at a certain period of development, in the activity of a person realizing his place and role in a holistic structure. The search for identity helps a person in the process of self-knowledge, the realization of his basic needs, social role in society, overcoming their disadvantages and complexes.
Thus, it can be said that the identification process is a system of social attitudes that determines the willingness of the individual to respond to a specific ethnic situation with certain stereotypical behavior. Hence, there is a link between identity and social stereotypes.
Unlike identity, which is gradually recognized in the process of individualization, ethnic identification is initially conscious and then becomes an automated unconscious stereotype of social behavior.
Taking into account the main specific characteristic of ethnos, it is possible to examine language from a dualistic point of view: if we consider it in the direction «towards inside», then it acts as one of the factors of
Corresponding author’s e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ethnic integration; if in the direction «towards outside», then, in this case, it is the main ethno-differentiating feature of the ethnos. «Combining these two opposite functions dialectically, the language turns out to be a tool for the self-preservation of the ethnic group, and the separation of «native» and «foreign» [1; 7].
Understanding of ethnicity can be built on different characteristics. Ethno-differentiating features, that are the hallmarks of this ethnos, are such characteristics as anthropological features, language, values and norms, historical memory, religion, ideas about the native land, the myth of common ancestors, national characters, folk and professional art. The importance and role of markers in the perception of ethnic members varies depending on the peculiarities of the historical situation, the stage of ethnic consolidation, and the peculiarities of the ethnic environment.
Ethno-differentiating features almost always reflect some objective reality, mainly the elements of spiritual culture. Stable types of ethno-differentiating features include anthropological ones that comprise of living color, incision and eye color, hair color, etc.
In addition, ethnicity has dynamic visual characteristics: language, culture, historical territory of the emergence of ethnic community, ethnic identity, including ideas about the community of origin (ethnic history), etc.
The problem of identity today quite naturally falls into the focus of research by modern domestic and foreign linguists, since it meets the priorities of the anthropocentric approach to the language. The study of language units allows us to make conclusions not only about the mental processes, but also about the personal characteristics inherent in the linguistic personality. Identity can be studied both in the language system as a whole and in individual texts, discourses.
The concept of identity is one of the key concepts for understanding and studying a person. Now, it is actively appealed in various areas of humanitarian knowledge, since it correlates with the socio-political and cultural changes taking place in the world (globalization, postcolonialism, postmodernism).
In this regard, identity is defined as «awareness of the object (subject) belonging to another object (subject) as part and whole, special and universal», and its main feature, and basis is called «identity to oneself» [2; 6].
The concept of identity always defines the relationship of two or more related entities, proclaiming equality or convergence. This allows us to talk about identity as a term expressing a system of relations and necessarily assuming the presence of «native» and «foreign».
The relationship between ethnic identity and language is one of the problems of studying social consciousness. Due to the special situation of the language among the main components forming the ethnos, the language was considered as one of the most important factors of ethnic identity. Language is not only an instrument and a special form of national culture, but also a way of expressing this culture in a word, the historical memory of the people. It is a valuable source of information in the study of the culture, history and social relations of a certain ethnic group. At the same time, it is one of the ways to objectify the worldview and mentality of the ethnic group, since history, traditions, material and spiritual culture constitute a certain cognitive, conceptual system of an individual and the entire ethnic group.
In addition, as some researchers note, «Language is a powerful incentive and, at the same time, one of the main indicators of acquiring and maintaining individual, group and territorial identity», linguistic identity directly depends on everyday communication and «images of dominant cultural landscapes» [3; 41].
In turn, language identities have the ability to determine the content and structure of ordinary cultural landscapes. This means that language identity can affect the linguistic design of the entire language personality surrounding reality.
Many researchers believe that linguistic identity is the basis not only for ethnic identity, but also for the awareness of cultural identity, in its turn, the language of the individual and collective illustrates the social dynamics [4; 149].
Ethnos is a «constructed community» [5; 33]. The language as a landmark memory of ethnic groups captures and systematizes the socio-cultural experience of generations accumulated during history, and contributes to the process of its reproduction in the construction of ethno-cultural identity. The language is more conservative than culture, due to which it for a long time retains the historical and cultural heritage of ethnic groups, which has gone away from the practice of everyday life, but is enshrined in historical memory, ethnic stereotypes, traditions, rites, customs, and features of ethnos mentality. As a mechanism of communication between the past and the present, general and special, language plays the role of a systemically forming factor in the order and preservation of the communicative space of the ethnic group, the institutional stability of society and its ethno-cultural identity.
Speaking about identity formation processes, it is necessary to note the role of language as a leading component of identity that is a dynamic structure, open to reformations over time .
In general, language is a cognitive-affective mental construct of either social or individual consciousness, presenting the basic content of identity in such forms, for example, as discourse. Discourses of a certain subject (political, religious, etc.) form and consolidate linguistic identity. Since language is the main indicator of collective (or individuality), its solidarity and cohesion, discourses about «native» and «foreign» language naturally arise, which reflect basic ideas. These perceptions of community languages are models of reflection and categorization of the world within the framework of the «we-they» model.
Linguistic identity is thus manifested in the fact that linguistic culture associates itself with its language, forming ideas about it as «native language».
The relations of language and identity as socially conditioned have always been the subject of close interest in linguistics. The idea that language is a feature of its speakers belonging to a certain society, an indicator of changes in social life is found in the works of sociolinguist A.D. Schweitzer and prominent American scientists R. Bell, D. Heimz, W. Labov, C. Ferguson, D. Fishman, W. Bright and others; during Soviet times in the studies of E.D. Polivanov, L.P. Yakubinsky, V.M. Zhirmunsky, P.O. Shore, В.М. Solntsev, B.A. Larin, V.V. Vinogradov, G.O. Vinokur and others [7; 23].
Modern researches apply linguo-culturological approach to the analysis of language through ethnic group: I. Belikov, M.B. Eshich, E.F. Tarasov, N.V. Ufimtseva, N.V. Dmitryuk, V.G. Kostomarov, A.T. Khrolenko, S.I. Ter-Minasova, Yu.N. Karaulov, A.I. Kravchenko, K.F. Sedov, E.D. Suleymenova, N.Zh. Shaymerdenova, F.Z. Yakhin, etc. [7; 24].
The question of the relationship between linguistic and ethnic identity has become relevant and significant in connection with the changing cultural and historical situation after the emergence of new independent states, the revival of languages and cultures. It was the formation of new state entities with independence, with a change in the language situation and language policy that was the main factor in making the range of issues related to language identity as one of the most relevant issues in modern linguistic science. The emergence of new independent states, the change in language policy, and the language situation along with it, naturally required their study and reflection, the prioritization of language policy and language planning, the awareness of their ethnic identity, and other issues related to the interaction of language and society, and changes in the ethno-linguistic landscape.
U.M. Bakhtikireeva says that language forms and supports a sense of national solidarity, that it is «one of the main dimensions of national, or ethnic, identity» and considers it «even as the main and only component that determines its uniqueness» [8; 265].
In addition to language, the criteria characterizing ethnic identity can be the historical community of people, symbols and codes of culture, customs and traditions, religious beliefs and the community of geographical territory. Based on this, it can be concluded that although linguistic identity and ethnic identity are identical concepts for some researchers, we still adhere to a different point of view and believe that linguistic and ethnic identity are not equivalent concepts.
Researchers include representations and assessments that relate to the native language and the «foreign» language of (the language of the metropolis), as well as language identification, which is based not only on knowledge of the language, but also on communication skills in various speech situations.
Ethnic identity is associated with «a sense of belonging to an ethnic group, identification as a member of that group».
Based on the «Dictionary of Sociolinguistic Terms», the concept of identification in sociolinguistic science is interpreted as «identification of the individual with a certain ethnicity, nationality, language» [9; 72]. For the full-fledged existence of an individual in society, it is necessary to equate, identify with other individuals, collective on the basis of common characteristics, such as ethnicity, nationality and language. In the most general sense, identification (identity, to identify, identical) indicates identification, use, similarity, analogy, compliance or authenticity of two, several or sets of things, objects, states and phenomena of reality. As A.O. Orusbaev notes, in human society identification is associated with the process of emotional and social self-identification of the individual with another person, group, model or ideal, as a result of which the identity of the person is formed». In the encyclopedic dictionary on cultural studies, identification is interpreted (in the aspect of ethnic psychology) as a way of realizing a person's belonging to a certain community, through which moral norms, mentality, cultural values, roles and ideals of the ethnic environment where they relate themselves are acquired and learned.
Ignorance of the language can be a sign of alienation from the ethnic group. Nevertheless, there are many people who do not speak the ethnic language, but identify themselves with it. According to conducted studies among students of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the identification of a student with a certain ethnicity is often not a criterion when choosing the language of learning at school, especially since this choice is carried out by his parents.
As claimed by scientists (Z. Bauman, M.N. Guboglo, A.B. Likhachev, E.D. Suleimenov, M. Rustin, A.O. Orusbaev, O.B. Altynbekov, T.P. Mlechko, etc.), linguistic identity, like any other identity, is not attributed and innate, but intangible feature that can be chosen, expressed in social-cultural behavior, or changed depending on social, political or ideological context.
The language emphasizing «I am native, I am the same as you», helps a person to socialize in society, learn cultural and social norms, establish and maintain relations within ethnic, age, gender, social-role and other groups, while carrying out internal and external emotional assessment activities. Therefore, language is the most important tool for identifying a person in society, and linguistic identity is defined as a combination of the linguistic characteristics of an individual and a group (knowledge of language/languages, or language competence, language use, or speech behavior, attitude to languages, or language setting).
Hence, language identification can be defined as a constant process of inculturation and integration of a person into society. If society is multilingual, then linguistic identification is complicated by the choice of one of co-functioning languages and the need of continuous determination of their own attitude to these languages and a mobile self-assessment of language behavior.
Narrowing the spheres of use of the native language, its ignorance often leads to a conflict between linguistic and ethnic identities among young people (the effect of the «nasty duck», according to E.D. Suleimenova) [10; 18]
The following conditions contribute to this:
- conflict between ethnic and linguistic identities;
- the transition from one language identity to another, more relevant at a given time and place;
- inability to really assess the fundamental changes taking place in society and to determine their identity, for example, when an ethnic group loses its language;
- maintaining stereotypes, despite changing priorities in society, etc.
Based on this, E.N. Kremer defined the types of the relationship between the linguistic and ethnic identity of the bilingual personality:
- conflict-free bilingual personality:
- linguistic and ethnic identities are completely identical;
- linguistic and ethnic identities do not coincide, but do not give rise to linguistic conflicts, the person does not have to choose which of the languages is «native»;
- bilingual personality with problem identification (language and ethnic identity do not coincide):
- a person who has changed linguistic identity under the influence of any external reasons (the need for socialization in society) while maintaining ethnic identity.
- a person who has difficulties with language identification (who is approximately equally proficient in both languages, e.g., parents' languages);
- a person who misjudges his/her linguistic identity (e.g., representatives of small peoples with endangered languages; children of emigrants with aggravated national identity, who do not want to recognize the language of the metropolis with poor knowledge of the autochthonous language).
A language is a kind of the reflection, or rather, an indispensable ideologist of ethnic discourse, which is passionate about modern structuring societies. Linguistic factors have become almost the most noticeable manifestations of the global cultural civilization crisis of the turn of two millennia, which led to the «identity crisis».
One of the main contradictions of the world at the end of the XX century were declared: contradictions between global and local problems; contradictions between universal and individual; contradictions between traditions and modern trends. This problem became especially relevant at the end of the 20th century for a single community that used Russian as a language of interethnic communication.
At present, in most former republics of the USSR, the situation when the vast majority of the population speaks Russian takes place, which in some new states has an official status of a language of interethnic (in- tercultural) communication. However, in the fair opinion of A.L. Arefiev, U.M. Bakhtikireeva, V.P. Sinyachkin, «the equal mastering of two languages and successful speech communication in them in different areas of their use is impossible in modern realities».
In a multi-ethnic society the link between language and ethnicity is far from unambiguous. Ethnic language is, above all, the language of the ethnic group, which is its characteristic. In cases where some members of the ethnic group depart from their ethnic language, it still retains the role of an ethnic symbol and determines the internal attitude of a person to fulfill the ethno-cultural norms laid down in it since childhood. The self-identification of the individual as a representative of a certain ethnic group does not at all imply a clearly positive connection with the language, which is symbolically associated with this ethnic community.
Methods and material
The main method of data collection in our study is a survey of respondents — students, whose parents belong to different nationalities: the Kazakh or the Russian. The survey was conducted among students of 1st, 2nd and 3rd courses of Karaganda University of the name of academician E.A. Buketov (Kazakhstan). The age of respondents ranges from 18 to 21 years. The number of respondents was 127 people. It should be noted that the study took place in groups with both the state and Russian language of instruction. Since this is the initial stage of our study, the questionnaire took place in student groups studying at the Faculty of Philology.
The choice of this age group — 18–21 years — is due to the fact that the process of ethnic identification in cognitive and emotional terms is completed by this age. The process of forming an ethnic identity of a child develops from diffuse to realized and takes place in several stages. In adolescence, emotional and evaluation motives of belonging to ethnic community are formed. At this age, the individual reaches a realized ethnic identity. Thus, young people 18–21 years old have completed the process of ethnic identification as they have certain ideas about themselves as a part of some ethnic group. The students who were born in a city (17 %), rural district, village, settlement (83 %) took part in questioning. Among them there are Karaganda region (13 %), South Kazakhstan (67 %), other regions of Kazakhstan (16 %), Mongolia (2.5 %), the Republic of Uzbekistan (1.5 %).
The questionnaire prepared for the survey contained 5 questions, which offered options for answers from two to five. The obtained questionnaires were statistically processed. Then, quantitative data was analyzed and summarized in order to identify patterns and trends showing the role of language as an ethnodifferentiating parameter in the ethnic identification of a young person who was born in an interethnic family.
Results and discussion
As mentioned above, ethnic and linguistic identities are not equivalent phenomena. One of the social spheres in which the individual does not have a complete correlation between them and difficulties arise with the choice of linguistic identity, is interethnic marriage. Children who grew up in such family are forced to choose the language of the mother or father, or both.
Based on the results of our questionnaire, when choosing ethnic identity, language knowledge is the most significant factor.
The choice of language identity of modern students is shown in Table 1.
Linguistic identity of Kazakh students from a multilingual family
The language of the father
The language of the mother
Two languages (father and mother)
An almost equal number of participants in our survey determined their language identity depending on their language affiliation to their father — 23/18 % and that of their mother — 28/22 %. On the basis of the language, recognized as native, primary speech interaction skills are formed. This is usually the language of the mother or father, i.e., the family, through which the primary socialization and culture of the person, familiarization with the norms, values, traditions of the ethnic group is carried out. In mono-ethnic families, the native language is the same as the ethnic language, i.e., there is no conflict between ethnic and linguistic identities. In the case of a multi-ethnic family, language identity tends towards the language of one of the parents. Note that 60/76 % of respondents are bilinguals and have identified both the mother language and the father language as their native languages.
Such a relationship of linguistic identity, of course, most closely corresponds to the integral nature of the interethnic family, that is, in this case the language performs as an unifying function. Language communication in multi-ethnic families is carried out using one or two languages. It is a complex system consisting of a number of communication networks that unite the family into a single whole.
There are two opposing views on the relationship between language and ethnicity in science. From the point of view of some scientists, this connection is mandatory, undeniable, fixed by continuity between generations. The preservation of a true ethnic identity, in their opinion, is impossible without the traditional language associated with it. From the point of view of constructivists, the loss of communication with language does not always lead to the loss of the corresponding identity. According to E.Yu.Makarova, when some members of the ethnic group depart from their ethnic language, they still retain the role of an ethnic symbol and determine the internal intention of a person to fulfill the ethno-cultural norms laid down since childhood.
The researcher E.N. Kremer identified the types of relationship between linguistic and ethnic identity of the bilingual personality. Based on the results of our questionnaire, we divided respondents into these types, the data presented in Table 2.
The type of correlation of linguistic and ethnic identity
Type of relationship between linguistic and ethnic identity of bilingual personality
Number of respondents
Conflict-free bilingual person:
1) Linguistic and ethnic identities coincide completely;
2) Linguistic and ethnic identities are different, but there is no linguistic conflict, the person does not have to choose which of the languages is «native»
Bilingual person with problem identification:
1) language identification has changed, but ethnic one remained;
2) a person has difficulties with language identity, since he/she is equally proficient in two languages;
3) a person who misjudges his/her language identity.
The total number of respondents, as we indicated earlier, was 127 students. It should be noted that the study took place in groups with both the state and the Russian language of instruction. Most of the surveyed respondents were classified by us as conflict-free bilinguals 89/70 % of the total number of survey participants, 38/30 % of respondents were classified as bilingual personality with problem identification. From the number of the respondents classified as a conflict-free bilingual personality, the vast majority (56/62.9 %) were classified as those with full linguistic and ethnic identities, and 33/37 % of respondents do not face the choice of «their own», «native» language. The linguistic and ethnic identities of these respondents do not coincide, they are different, but there is no linguistic conflict, since one of the languages is spoken in a greater extent, considered to be «native».
30 % of respondents from the total number of students are classified as bilingual personality with problem identification. From this number, the majority of the 29/76.3 % students surveyed are those who are equally proficient in two languages, so they have difficulties with language identity. It should be noted that the vast majority of this number of students are students born and living in the city. In 5/13.2 % of respondents, the linguistic identification changed, but ethnic one remained. These are those students who are classified as Oralmans, that is, they became citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan, began to communicate in the state (Kazakh) language, but at the same time remained Mongols in their essence. About the same number (4/10.5 %) of students were assigned by us to the group that assesses the linguistic identity incorrectly. These students were born in the families of emigrants (from Mongolia, Uzbekistan), their national identity is extremely «aggravated» [7; 35], they do not recognize that the Kazakh language has become their native language, it is still «foreign» to them, but, at the same time, these students do not speak their native language at all.
We can say that most of the respondents of the questionnaire are bi- and polylinguals, speak two or three languages equally well, but they consider one or two of them to be the mother language and the father language in a situation of multi-ethnic composition of the family.
T.G. Stefanenko cites the results of a representative sociological study in sovereign Kazakhstan, and says that «74.5 % Kazakhs are fluent in Russian and only 71 % in Kazakh». These data reflected the fact that the level of identity is determined primarily by the preference of the language rather than its actual use. In other words, language identity is not directly related to the language practice of an individual, but depends on his/her preference for a particular language, on the cultural and symbolic role of the language. The researcher suggests that the Kazakh mastery of the Russian language reflected «a strategy of individual mobility, a desire to integrate into the dominant group and thus acquire a certain status, a positive social identity».
Today in Kazakhstan, there is a policy of multilingual education from primary school to university level is implemented, it is necessary to know the Kazakh language as a state language and the Russian language as a language of interethnic communication. Mastering English also provides a significant advantage in higher education and professional implementation. At the state level, knowledge of Kazakh, Russian and English is supported by the trilingualism program. In our opinion, the respondents' choice of rational motivations for linguistic identity is connected with these circumstances. This can be illustrated by this example: from the total number of our respondents, only 7/5.5 % do not speak Russian fully, but at the same time, they study it and understand their classmates. It should also be noted that in an oral conversation, students talked about the fact that sometimes in communication with classmates they do not notice how they switch from one language to another, synthesizing, for example, phraseologisms and idioms of the Kazakh language with jargonyms of the Russian language. Also, if communication takes place in an electronic format, for example, in the messenger «WhatsApp», then to save time and language means, respondents use emoji, emoticons, photos and videos. This applies mainly to communication on the subject of the educational process and the exchange of useful information. Many groups have created group chats where there is an exchange of files, works, communication, discussion of a range of issues. It should be noted that in his behavior, including speech, a student, like any other person, as a specific linguistic personality, is forced to adapt to different group requirements, so their speech culture reflects various characteristics of their language identity. The student of 1–2 courses with the Kazakh language of learning, on the one hand, is the carrier of his/her individual form of speech, reflecting his/her social, regional and national origin, the level of his/her education and culture, etc. On the other hand, he/she is a native speaker of the Russian literary language (more or less corresponding to the norms).
The analysis of the survey of Kazakhstan youth (18–21 years old) born in Kazakh-Russian inter-ethnic families showed that a significant part of them (60 %) have a multilingual identity. They choose the father language because of traditional views on the father's dominant role in the family (28/22 %). 23% (18 %) of respondents choose the mother language in their linguistic identity, which is according to L.N. Gumilev, a kind of psychological connection between the mother and the child, the so-called «ethnic field».
We also compared the data of our survey with the typology of the relationship between the linguistic and ethnic identity of the bilingual personality. The linguistic identity of the vast majority of Kazakhstan youth in 89/70 % of the total number of respondents correlates with ethnic identity and does not contradict with it, and in 38/30 % of respondents classified as bilingual personality with problematic identification, the majority (29/76.3 %) experience difficulties with linguistic identity, since they speak two languages equally well.
All these facts confirm the idea that the ethnic and linguistic identities are not equivalent phenomena.
Based on the results of our questionnaire, we can also say that linguistic identification in the multilingual space of modern Kazakhstan is a dynamic, constant process of inculturation and integration of a modern young person into society.
The linguistic identification of a modern Kazakh student is complicated by the choice of one of the cofunctioning languages and the need of continuous determination of their own attitude to these languages and mobile self-esteem of language behavior.
The speech portrait of a modern Kazakh student is multi-faced, it is not referable just to some features or types.
Ethnolinguocultural dialogue in the multi-ethnic Karaganda region develops under the influence of both extralinguistic and intralinguistic factors, forming a specific linguistic identity, in which intercultural dialogue taking place within such a linguistic personality proceeds in the form of cooperation, mutual enrichment, ambivalence (situationality), cultural expansionism, assimilation, acculturation, tolerance, etc.
The formation and development of the language personality of the Kazakh student in various conditions, particularly, mono- and polynational environment in the Republic of Kazakhstan, is influenced by a complex of linguistic and extralinguistic factors. In a multi-ethnic environment, there is a simultaneous assimilation of both the native and Russian languages, introduction to ethnic and Russian culture, in a monoethnic environment — assimilation to a large extent of the native language and ethnic culture.
The results, we have obtained, can form the basis for the development of effective ethnic and linguistic policies in the young student environment aimed at tolerating ethnic and linguistic problems and conflicts.
In the future of our research there will be is a study of the linguistic identity of a modern Kazakhstan student within the framework of network communication.
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