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The Languages spoken in Kyrgyzstan/Literary monuments of Kyrgyzstan

Languages

Kyrgyzstan is the only former Soviet Central Asian republic to start out with two official languages, in this case Russian and Kyrgyz. An aggressive post-Soviet campaign was established to make the latter the official national language in all commercial and government uses by 1997; Russian is still used extensively, and the non-Kyrgyz population, most not Kyrgyz speakers, are hostile to forcible Kyrgyzification.

Kyrgyzstan has a high literacy rate (99%), and a strong tradition of educating all citizens. However, its ambitious program to restructure the Soviet educational system is hampered by low funding and loss of teachers. School attendance is mandatory through grade nine. Kyrgyz is increasingly used for instruction; the transition from Russian to Kyrgyz has been hampered by lack of textbooks. It remains to be seen whether Russian will continue as the second language of choice, or whether English will supersede it as a lingua franca.

Literary works

Manas is a traditional epic poem of the Kyrgyz people and the name of the epic's eponymous hero. The poem, with close to half a million lines, is twenty times longer than Homer's Odyssey and one of the longest epics in the world. It is a patriotic work recounting the exploits of Manas and his descendants and followers, who fought against the Chinese and Kalmyks in the ninth century to preserve Kyrgyz independence.


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