Russian as the Lingua Franca in the Central Asian Economy

A research team at WU’s Institute for Slavic Languages is investigating the extent of the use of the Russian language in the economies of Central Asia. The research is based on qualitative interviews conducted with decision makers from the region’s companies. To gather empirical data, researchers are making contact with selected local companies and intensifying cooperations with partner institutions in the region (Al-Farabi Kazakh National University in Almaty and Kyrgyz National Academy of Sciences).

The question of which language is most often used in Central Asian business communication is not easy to answer. As a result of the founding of individual states in Central Asia, a tendency to increased use of national languages can be assumed, and individual national languages are being used increasingly even in business contexts. Given the long years of common history with the Soviet Union and the resulting dominance of Russian as a common language, the conditions for adopting Russian as a lingua franca in the region would appear ideal. However, it must be kept in mind that English is the most important language in international business communication, meaning that Central Asian companies must also be striving to increase their use of English in their business communications. Russian, which was the dominant language in the region for many years, is also losing significance due to new language legislation in Central Asian countries.  As developments happen at different speeds in the individual countries of the region, it will be necessary to analyze the situation for each country separately to do justice to the region’s heterogeneous nature.


Renate Rathmayr (

Edgar Hoffmann (

Angelika Hechtl (

Duration: 2014 - 2017