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The Story of the Letter “i”

Written by on Wednesday, 19 January 2011
Business and Economics, Kazakhstan
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Translation of Askhat’s post (KAZ, RUS)

4753189403_aeda30a0c6-150x150Editor’s note: Like many countries in the region, Kazakhstan has experienced a number of issues in transitioning from Russian to its native, historical language. One of the spheres in which this conflict plays out is technology, where something as basic as the alphabet can be the difference between receiving a bank transfer and not. [See Annasoltan’s post on Turkmens in Iran for another example of a people divided by their alphabet].

The same thing happened last year. No money was transferred into my pension fund. Computers in our banks refuse to accept the letter “i”. We even recorded a podcast for neweurasia on this subject, but the problem remains unresolved.

Since December, I have not received any money on my debit card. I collected my patience and went to find out the reason. The letter “i” in my last name was to blame, they said – and changed it to the Russian “и”. I struggle to understand how this could have changed anything in their work.

Because, you see, I have always written my name in Kazakh and received money without problems. And now, apparently, this “i” had screwed everything up. Yet no one bothered to warn me.

The last time I visited the People’s Bank, I asked for documents in Kazakh, but they told me “the computer program is in Russian, so everything will be in Russian.” So if the program is in Russian, I have to become Russian as well?

Having dug a little deeper, here’s what I found out. The bank designed a special new program for universities that did not recognize Kazakh script. As a result, those who wrote their last names in Kazakh would not receive money. There’s a fancy banking term for this. I’m probably not the only one affected by this problem. Please share your troubles with neweurasia.

Photo: flickr user Mag3737 (CC-usage).

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