Uzbek is a Turkic language that is the sole official language of
Uzbekistan. The language of Uzbeks, it is spoken by some 28 million
native speakers in
Uzbekistan and elsewhere in Central Asia.
Uzbek belongs to the Eastern Turkic, or Karluk, branch of the Turkic
language family. External influences include Persian,
Russian. One of the most noticeable distinctions of Uzbek from other
Turkic languages is the rounding of the vowel /a/ to /ɒ/, a feature
that was influenced by Persian.
3 Number of speakers
4 Loan words
6 Writing systems
8 See also
11 External links
In the language itself, Uzbek is oʻzbek tili or oʻzbekcha. In
Cyrillic, the same names are written ўзбек тили and
Arabic script, ئوزبېک تیلی and
Turkic speakers probably settled the Amu Darya,
Syr Darya and
Zarafshan river basins since at least 600–700 CE, gradually ousting
or assimilating the speakers of
Eastern Iranian languages who
previously inhabited Sogdia,
Bactria and Khwarezm. The first Turkic
dynasty in the region was that of the
Kara-Khanid Khanate in the
9th–12th centuries, who were a confederation of Karluks, Chigils,
Yaghma and other tribes.
Uzbek can be considered the direct descendant or a later form of
Chagatai, the language of great Turkic Central Asian literary
development in the realm of Chagatai Khan,
Timur (Tamerlane), and the
Timurid dynasty (including the early Mughal rulers of India). The
language was championed by
Ali-Shir Nava'i in the 15th and 16th
centuries. Nava'i was the greatest representative of Chagatai language
literature. He significantly contributed to the development of
Chagatai language and its direct descendant Uzbek and is widely
considered to be the founder of Uzbek
literature. Ultimately based on the Karluk
variant of the Turkic languages, Chagatai contained large numbers of
Arabic loanwords. By the 19th century it was rarely used
for literary composition, but disappeared only in the early 20th
The term Uzbek as applied to language has meant different things at
different times. Prior to 1921 "Uzbek" and "Sart" were considered to
be different dialects:
"Uzbek" was a vowel-harmonised Kipchak variety spoken by descendants
of those who arrived in
Muhammad Shaybani in the 16th
century, who lived mainly around
Bukhara and Samarkand, although the
Turkic spoken in
Tashkent was also vowel-harmonised. It can be called
old Uzbek and it's considered to be related to that specific group of
"Sart" was a Karluk dialect spoken by the older settled Turkic
populations of the region in the
Fergana Valley and the Qashqadaryo
Region, and in some parts of what is now the Samarqand Region; it
contained a heavier admixture of Persian and Arabic, and did not use
vowel harmony. It became a standard
Uzbek language or official dialect
In Khanate of Khiva, Sarts spoke a highly Oghuz Turkified form of
Karluk Turkic. After 1921 the Soviet regime abolished the term
derogatory, and decreed that henceforth the entire settled Turkic
population of Turkestan would be known as Uzbeks, even though many had
no Uzbek tribal heritage.
However, the standard written language that was chosen for the new
republic in 1924, despite the protests of Uzbek
Bolsheviks such as
Fayzulla Khodzhayev, was not pre-revolutionary "Uzbek" but the "Sart"
language of the
Edward A. Allworth argued that this
"badly distorted the literary history of the region" and was used to
give authors such as the 15th century author
Ali-Shir Nava'i an Uzbek
identity. All three dialects continue to exist within modern
Number of speakers
Estimates of the number of speakers of Uzbek vary widely. The Swedish
Nationalencyklopedin estimates the number of native
speakers to be 30 million, and the
CIA World Factbook
CIA World Factbook estimates 25
million. Other sources estimate the number of speakers of Uzbek to be
21 million in Uzbekistan, 3.4 million in Afghanistan, 900,000
in Tajikistan, 800,000 in Kyrgyzstan, 500,000 in
Kazakhstan, 300,000 in Turkmenistan, and 300,000 in
The influence of Islam, and by extension, Arabic, is evident in Uzbek
loanwords. There is also a residual influence of Russian, from the
Uzbeks were under the rule of the
Russian Empire and the
Soviet Union. Most importantly, Uzbek vocabulary, phraseology and
pronunciation has been heavily influenced by Persian through its
Uzbek language has many dialects, varying widely from region to
region. However, there is a commonly understood dialect which is used
in mass media and in most printed materials. Among the most-widespread
dialects are the
Tashkent dialect, Uzbek dialect, the Ferghana
dialect, the Khorezm dialect, the Chimkent-Turkestan dialect, and the
A 1911 text in the Uyghur
Main article: Uzbek alphabet
Uzbek has been written in a variety of scripts throughout history:
Pre-1928: the Arabic-based
Yaña imlâ alphabet
Yaña imlâ alphabet by literates,
approximately 3.7% of
Uzbeks at the time.
1880s: Russian missionaries attempted to use
Cyrillic for Uzbek.
1928–1940: the Latin-based
Yañalif used officially.
Cyrillic script used officially.
Since 1992: a Yañalif-based
Latin script is official in Uzbekistan,
Cyrillic script is still widely used.
Despite the official status of the
Latin script in Uzbekistan, the use
Cyrillic is still widespread, especially in advertisements and
signs. In newspapers, scripts may be mixed, with headlines in Latin
and articles in Cyrillic. The
Arabic script is no longer used in
Uzbekistan except symbolically in limited texts or for the
academic studies of Chagatai (Old Uzbek).
In the western Chinese region of Xinjiang, where there is an Uzbek
Cyrillic is still used. However, the Uyghur Arabic
alphabet is sometimes used.
Standard Uzbek has six vowel phonemes:
^ Uzbek at
Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
^ Scott Newton (20 November 2014). Law and the Making of the Soviet
World: The Red Demiurge. Routledge. pp. 232–.
^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds.
Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute
for the Science of Human History.
^ Golden, Peter. B. (1990), "Chapter 13 – The Karakhanids and Early
Islam", in Sinor, Denis, The Cambridge History of Early Inner Asia,
Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-24304-1
^ Allworth, Edward (1994). Central Asia: 130 Years of Russian
Dominance, a Historical Overview. Duke University Press. p. 72.
^ Robert McHenry, ed. (1993). "Navā'ī, (Mir) 'Alī Shīr".
Encyclopædia Britannica. 8 (15th ed.). Chicago: Encyclopædia
Britannica, Inc. p. 563.
^ Subtelny, M. E. (1993). "Mīr 'Alī Shīr Nawā'ī". In C. E.
Bosworth; E. Van Donzel; W. P. Heinrichs; Ch. Pellat. Encyclopaedia of
Islam. VII. Leiden—New York: Brill Publishers.
^ Valitova, A. A. (1974). "Alisher Navoi". In A. M. Prokhorov. Great
Soviet Encyclopedia (in Russian). 17 (3rd ed.). Moscow: Soviet
Encyclopedia. pp. 194–195.
^ A. M. Prokhorov, ed. (1997). "Navoi, Nizamiddin Mir Alisher". Great
Encyclopedic Dictionary (in Russian) (2nd ed.). Saint Petersburg:
Great Russian Encyclopedia. p. 777.
^ "Alisher Navoi". Writers History. Archived from the original on 16
October 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2012.
^ Maxim Isaev (7 July 2009). "
Uzbekistan – The monuments of
classical writers of oriental literature are removed in Samarqand".
Ferghana News. Retrieved 26 January 2012.
^ Kamola Akilova. "Alisher Navoi and his epoch in the context of
Uzbekistan art culture development [sic]". San'at Magazine. Retrieved
28 January 2012.
^ "Uzbek Culture". UzHotels. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
^ "Alisher Navoi – The Crown of Literature". Kitob.uz Children's
Digital Library (in Uzbek). Retrieved 8 February 2012.
^ Allworth, Edward A. (1990). The Modern Uzbeks: From the Fourteenth
Century to the Present: A Cultural History. Hoover Institution Press.
pp. 229–230. ISBN 978-0-8179-8732-9.
^ "Världens 100 största språk 2007" ("The World's 100 Largest
Languages in 2007"), Nationalencyklopedin
^ "Uzbekistan". CIA. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
^ "Languages of Afghanistan". Ethnologue. Retrieved 7 December
^ "Languages of Tajikistan". Ethnologue. Retrieved 7 December
^ "Ethnic Makeup of the Population" (PDF). National Statistics
Committee of the Kyrgyz Republic (in Russian). Retrieved 7 December
^ "National Census 2009" (PDF). Statistics Agency of
Russian). Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 December 2010.
Retrieved 7 December 2010.
^ "Languages of Turkmenistan". Ethnologue. Retrieved 7 December
^ "National Census 2010". Federal State Statistics Service (in
Russian). Retrieved 7 December 2012.
^ a b c Batalden, Stephen K. (1997). The Newly Independent States of
Eurasia: Handbook of Former Soviet Republics. Greenwood Publishing
Group. p. 194. ISBN 978-0-89774-940-4.
^ a b European Society for Central Asian Studies. International
Central Asia on Display. LIT Verlag Münster.
p. 221. ISBN 978-3-8258-8309-6.
^ Sjoberg, Andrée F. (1963). Uzbek Structural Grammar. Uralic and
Altaic Series. 18. Bloomington: Indiana University.
Mamatov, Jahangir; Kadirova, Karamat (2008). Comprehensive
Uzbek-English Dictionary. Hyattsville, Maryland: Dunwoody Press.
ISBN 1931546835. OCLC 300453555.
Csató, Éva Ágnes; Johanson, Lars (1936). The Turkic Languages.
London: Routledge. ISBN 0415412617. OCLC 40980286.
Bregel, Yu (1978). "The Sarts in The Khanate of Khiva". Journal of
Asian History. 12 (2): 120–151. doi:10.2307/41930294.
Bodrogligeti, András J. E. (2002). Modern Literary Uzbek: A Manual
for Intensive Elementary, Intermediate, and Advanced Courses.
München: Lincom Europa. ISBN 3895866954.
Fierman, William (1991). Language Planning and National Development:
The Uzbek Experience. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. ISBN 3110853388.
Ismatullaev, Khaĭrulla (1995). Modern literary Uzbek I. Bloomington,
Indiana: Indiana University, Research Institute for Inner Asian
Studies. ISBN 0933070365. OCLC 34576336.
Karl, A. Krippes (1996). Uzbek-English Dictionary (Rev ed.).
Kensington: Dunwoody Press. ISBN 1881265455.
Sjoberg, Andrée Frances (1997). Uzbek Structural Grammar. Richmond:
Curzon Press. ISBN 0700708189. OCLC 468438031.
Waterson, Natalie (1980). Uzbek-English Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford
University Press. ISBN 0197135978. OCLC 5100980.
Republic of Uzbekistan, Ministry of Higher and Middle Eductation.
Lotin yozuviga asoslangan oʻzbek alifbosi va imlosi (Latin writing
Uzbek alphabet and orthography),
Tashkent Finance Institute:
A. Shermatov. "A New Stage in the Development of Uzbek Dialectology"
in Essays on Uzbek History, Culture and Language. Ed. Bakhtiyar A.
Nazarov & Denis Sinor. Bloomington, Indiana, 1993,
Uzbek edition of, the free encyclopedia
Wikibooks has more on the topic of: Uzbek language
Wikivoyage has a phrasebook for Uzbek.
Uzbek Cyrillic–Latin converter
Uzbek Cyrillic-Latin text and website converter
Cyrillic text and website converter
Dictionary of the Uzbek Language Volume I (А—Р) (Tashkent, 1981)
Dictionary of the Uzbek Language, Volume II (С—Ҳ) (Tashkent, 1981)
English-Uzbek and Uzbek-English online dictionary
English-Uzbek and Uzbek-English online dictionary
Russian-Uzbek and Uzbek-Russian online dictionary
Uzbek<>Turkish dictionary (Pamukkale University)
Ole Olufsen: "A Vocabulary of the
Dialect of Bokhara"  (København
Grammar and orthography
Introduction to the Uzbek Language, Mark Dickens
Principal Orthographic Rules For The Uzbek Language, translation of
Uzbekistan Cabinet of Minister's Resolution No. 339, of August 24,
Uzbek alphabet, Omniglot
Ona tili uz, a website about Uzbek
Uzbek language materials, Uz-Translations
Languages of Uzbekistan
Russian Sign Language
Languages of Afghanistan
Afghan Sign Language
Languages of China
Provinces / SARs
Languages with Taiwan Origin(Austronesian)
Hong Kong SignHK/MC
GX = Guangxi
HK = Hong Kong
MC = Macau
NM = Inner Mongolia
XJ = Xinjiang
XZ = Tibet
Italics indicate extinct languages
Balkan Gagauz Turkish
Old Anatolian Turkish
1 Mixed language.
2 Classification disputed.