No TRUE Kazakh wants to be a "Shala Kazakh"
I learned from Aigerim about the term of Shala Kazakh which is true of her husband’s family who are from the north of Kazakhstan. Shala means that you are "poor in your own Kazakh culture" because you don't know the language or many of the Kazakh traditions.
Aigerim's parents, on the other hand, are from the rural areas of Kazakhstan and hung on to their Kazakh language. However, during the Soviet past they met with problems in not knowing Russian. Aigerim’s parents wanted to reverse that trend so they made sure their children did well in Russian but now they have become Shala Kazakh. Aigerim woefully admits to being a Shala Kazakh but she will make sure her son is not. Most Kazakhs now believe it is shameful not to know your own country's language. I was told that you will find better speakers of Kazakh among those people from the south of Kazakhstan like Taras, Kryzlorda and Shymkent and also to the east close to China.
It seems that during the Soviet purges in the 1930s and 1940 there were those Kazakhs who fled to China. Now some of the children and grandchildren have returned to Kazakhstan to become citizens. Their Kazakh language is very good but they have problems filling out forms at banks and other official documents which are still in Russian. Not knowing the Russian language but only Kazakh (and Chinese), they are at a disadvantage. Their documents and passports say they are Kazakh yet they need their children to help them translate from Russian to Kazakh.
Of course now, the employers throughout Kazakhstan are trying to attract Kazakh speakers who know the Kazakh language (also Russian AND English). Dilyara claimed she watched a movie of Americans who were speaking the Kazakh language fluently. She said she would show it to me because I'm convinced it is probably excellent dubbing of voices going on. I know that in China, Chinese dubbing voices are famous for speaking in Chinese to go along with the lip movements of the actors in American Hollywood films.
For those Russians who remain living and working in Kazakhstan, they are supposedly shamed into learning Kazakh. Especially true when those foreigners, such as Japanese or Americans come to Kazakhstan and learn Kazakh in a short time. The question is asked: “What about the Russians who have always lived in Kazakhstan?” They have a wide assortment of many Kazakhs to help them practice speaking Kazakh. Aigerim pointed out that when she wants to practice her English, she has a difficult time finding a native speaker of English except when I’m available for her to talk to. I’m hoping to get her connected with a researcher from Sweden so she can further practice her English speaking skills next fall when she arrives to Almaty.
Fun day learning more from Dilyara and Aigerim about their Kazakh culture while I’m supposedly helping them improve their English skills.