Uzbek language

Uzbek language

Overview
Uzbek is a Turkic language
Turkic languages
The Turkic languages constitute a language family of at least thirty five languages, spoken by Turkic peoples across a vast area from Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean to Siberia and Western China, and are considered to be part of the proposed Altaic language family.Turkic languages are spoken...

 and the official language of Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan , officially the Republic of Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia and one of the six independent Turkic states. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south....

. It has about 25.5 million native speakers, and it is spoken by the Uzbeks
Uzbeks
The Uzbeks are a Turkic ethnic group in Central Asia. They comprise the majority population of Uzbekistan, and large populations can also be found in Afghanistan, Tajikstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Pakistan, Mongolia and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China...

 in Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan , officially the Republic of Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia and one of the six independent Turkic states. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south....

 and elsewhere in Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

. Uzbek belongs to the southeastern Turkic or Uyghur family of Turkic languages, and consequently its lexicon
Lexicon
In linguistics, the lexicon of a language is its vocabulary, including its words and expressions. A lexicon is also a synonym of the word thesaurus. More formally, it is a language's inventory of lexemes. Coined in English 1603, the word "lexicon" derives from the Greek "λεξικόν" , neut...

 and grammar
Grammar
In linguistics, grammar is the set of structural rules that govern the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language. The term refers also to the study of such rules, and this field includes morphology, syntax, and phonology, often complemented by phonetics, semantics,...

 are most closely linked to the Uyghur language
Uyghur language
Uyghur , formerly known as Eastern Turk, is a Turkic language with 8 to 11 million speakers, spoken primarily by the Uyghur people in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of Western China. Significant communities of Uyghur-speakers are located in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and various other...

, while other influences rose from Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

, Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 and Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

.

Turkic speakers have probably settled in the Amu-Darya, Syr-Darya and Zeravshan
Zeravshan
Zeravshan River is a river in Central Asia. Its name, "sprayer of gold" in Persian, refers to the presence of gold-bearing sands in the upper reaches of the river. To the ancient Greeks it was known as the Polytimetus...

 river basins since at least AD600-700, gradually ousting or assimilating the speakers of Eastern Iranian languages
Eastern Iranian languages
The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages emerging in Middle Iranian times .The Avestan language is often classified as early Eastern Iranian. The largest living Eastern Iranian language is Pashto, with some 50 million speakers between the Hindu Kush mountains in...

 who previously inhabited Soghdiana, Bactria
Bactria
Bactria and also appears in the Zend Avesta as Bukhdi. It is the ancient name of a historical region located between south of the Amu Darya and west of the Indus River...

 and Chorasmia.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Uzbek language'
Start a new discussion about 'Uzbek language'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Recent Discussions
Encyclopedia
Uzbek is a Turkic language
Turkic languages
The Turkic languages constitute a language family of at least thirty five languages, spoken by Turkic peoples across a vast area from Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean to Siberia and Western China, and are considered to be part of the proposed Altaic language family.Turkic languages are spoken...

 and the official language of Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan , officially the Republic of Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia and one of the six independent Turkic states. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south....

. It has about 25.5 million native speakers, and it is spoken by the Uzbeks
Uzbeks
The Uzbeks are a Turkic ethnic group in Central Asia. They comprise the majority population of Uzbekistan, and large populations can also be found in Afghanistan, Tajikstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Pakistan, Mongolia and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China...

 in Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan , officially the Republic of Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia and one of the six independent Turkic states. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south....

 and elsewhere in Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

. Uzbek belongs to the southeastern Turkic or Uyghur family of Turkic languages, and consequently its lexicon
Lexicon
In linguistics, the lexicon of a language is its vocabulary, including its words and expressions. A lexicon is also a synonym of the word thesaurus. More formally, it is a language's inventory of lexemes. Coined in English 1603, the word "lexicon" derives from the Greek "λεξικόν" , neut...

 and grammar
Grammar
In linguistics, grammar is the set of structural rules that govern the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language. The term refers also to the study of such rules, and this field includes morphology, syntax, and phonology, often complemented by phonetics, semantics,...

 are most closely linked to the Uyghur language
Uyghur language
Uyghur , formerly known as Eastern Turk, is a Turkic language with 8 to 11 million speakers, spoken primarily by the Uyghur people in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of Western China. Significant communities of Uyghur-speakers are located in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and various other...

, while other influences rose from Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

, Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 and Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

.

History


Turkic speakers have probably settled in the Amu-Darya, Syr-Darya and Zeravshan
Zeravshan
Zeravshan River is a river in Central Asia. Its name, "sprayer of gold" in Persian, refers to the presence of gold-bearing sands in the upper reaches of the river. To the ancient Greeks it was known as the Polytimetus...

 river basins since at least AD600-700, gradually ousting or assimilating the speakers of Eastern Iranian languages
Eastern Iranian languages
The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages emerging in Middle Iranian times .The Avestan language is often classified as early Eastern Iranian. The largest living Eastern Iranian language is Pashto, with some 50 million speakers between the Hindu Kush mountains in...

 who previously inhabited Soghdiana, Bactria
Bactria
Bactria and also appears in the Zend Avesta as Bukhdi. It is the ancient name of a historical region located between south of the Amu Darya and west of the Indus River...

 and Chorasmia. The first Turkic dynasty in the region was that of the Karakhanids in the 9th- 12th centuries AD, who were a Uyghur yaghma tribe.

Uzbek is a language which can be considered the direct descendant or a latter form of Chagatay, the language of great Turkic
Turkic languages
The Turkic languages constitute a language family of at least thirty five languages, spoken by Turkic peoples across a vast area from Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean to Siberia and Western China, and are considered to be part of the proposed Altaic language family.Turkic languages are spoken...

 Central Asian literary development in the realm of Chagatai Khan
Chagatai Khan
Chagatai Khan was the second son of Genghis Khan and first khan and origin of the names of the Chagatai Khanate, Chagatai language and Chagatai Turks....

, Timur
Timur
Timur , historically known as Tamerlane in English , was a 14th-century conqueror of West, South and Central Asia, and the founder of the Timurid dynasty in Central Asia, and great-great-grandfather of Babur, the founder of the Mughal Dynasty, which survived as the Mughal Empire in India until...

 (Tamerlane), and the Timurids. The language was championed by Mir Ali-Sher Nawa'i in the 15th and 16th centuries. Ultimately based on the Qarluq
Qarluq
The Karluks were a prominent nomadic Turkic tribe residing in the regions of Kara-Irtysh and the Tarbagatai Mountains west of the Altay Mountains...

 variant of the Turkic languages, it contained large numbers of Persian and Arabic loanword
Loanword
A loanword is a word borrowed from a donor language and incorporated into a recipient language. By contrast, a calque or loan translation is a related concept where the meaning or idiom is borrowed rather than the lexical item itself. The word loanword is itself a calque of the German Lehnwort,...

s. By the 19th century it was rarely used for literary composition.

The term "Uzbek" as applied to language has meant different things at different times. Prior to 1921 "Uzbek" and "Sart
Sart
Sart is a name for the settled inhabitants of Central Asia which has had shifting meanings over the centuries. Sarts, known sometimes as Ak-Sart in ancient times, did not have any particular ethnic identification, and were usually town-dwellers.-Origin:There are several theories about the origin...

" were considered to be different dialects; "Uzbek" was a vowel-harmonised
Vowel harmony
Vowel harmony is a type of long-distance assimilatory phonological process involving vowels that occurs in some languages. In languages with vowel harmony, there are constraints on which vowels may be found near each other....

 Kipchak
Kipchak language
The Kipchak language is an extinct Turkic language of the Kipchak group.The descendants of the Kipchak language include the majority of Turkic languages spoken in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus today, as Kipchak was used as a lingua franca in Golden Horde–ruled lands.Kazakhs are remnants of...

 dialect spoken by descendants of those who arrived in Transoxiana with Shaybani Khan in the 16th century, who lived mainly around Bukhara
Bukhara
Bukhara , from the Soghdian βuxārak , is the capital of the Bukhara Province of Uzbekistan. The nation's fifth-largest city, it has a population of 263,400 . The region around Bukhara has been inhabited for at least five millennia, and the city has existed for half that time...

 and Samarkand
Samarkand
Although a Persian-speaking region, it was not united politically with Iran most of the times between the disintegration of the Seleucid Empire and the Arab conquest . In the 6th century it was within the domain of the Turkic kingdom of the Göktürks.At the start of the 8th century Samarkand came...

, although the Turkic spoken in Tashkent was also vowel-harmonised; "Sart" was a Qarluq dialect spoken by the older settled Turkic populations of the region in the Ferghana Valley and the Kashka-Darya region, and in some parts of what is now the Samarkand Province; it contained a heavier admixture of Persian and Arabic, and did not use vowel-harmony. In Khiva Sarts spoke a form of highly Persianised Oghuz
Oghuz languages
The Oghuz languages, a major branch of the Turkic language family, are spoken by more than 110 million people in an area spanning from the Balkans to China.-Linguistic features:...

 Turkic. After 1921 the Soviet regime abolished the term Sart
Sart
Sart is a name for the settled inhabitants of Central Asia which has had shifting meanings over the centuries. Sarts, known sometimes as Ak-Sart in ancient times, did not have any particular ethnic identification, and were usually town-dwellers.-Origin:There are several theories about the origin...

 as derogatory, and decreed that henceforth the entire settled Turkic population of Turkestan would be known as Uzbeks
Uzbeks
The Uzbeks are a Turkic ethnic group in Central Asia. They comprise the majority population of Uzbekistan, and large populations can also be found in Afghanistan, Tajikstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Pakistan, Mongolia and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China...

, even though many had no Uzbek tribal heritage. The standard written language that was chosen for the new republic in 1924, however, despite the protests of Uzbek Bolsheviks such as Faizullah Khojaev
Faizullah Khojaev
Fayzulla Ubaydullayevich Khodzhayev was an Uzbek politician.Khodzhayev was born in to a family of wealthy traders. He was sent to Moscow by his father in 1907...

, was not pre-revolutionary "Uzbek" but the "Sart" language of the Samarkand region. All three dialects continue to exist within modern, spoken Uzbek.

Number of speakers


In the CIS
Commonwealth of Independent States
The Commonwealth of Independent States is a regional organization whose participating countries are former Soviet Republics, formed during the breakup of the Soviet Union....

 countries, there are about 24.7 million people who speak dialects of Uzbek. In Uzbekistan, 21 million people speak Uzbek as their native language. There are about 1.2 million speakers in Tajikistan, 1 million in Afghanistan, 550,096 in Kyrgyzstan, 332,017 in Kazakhstan, and 317,333 in Turkmenistan. According to the 2004 census, about 14,5000 people in Xinjiang
Xinjiang
Xinjiang is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. It is the largest Chinese administrative division and spans over 1.6 million km2...

 in China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 speak Uzbek. Because the Uzbeks in Xinjiang are so close to the Uyghur people
Uyghur people
The Uyghur are a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia. Today, Uyghurs live primarily in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the People's Republic of China...

, who form an ethnic plurality there, Uzbeks are assimilated by Uyghurs..

Loan words


The influence of Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

, and by extension, Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

, is evident in Uzbek, as well as the residual influence of Russian, from the time when Uzbekistan was under tsarist
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 and Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 domination. Most of the Arabic words have found their way into Uzbek through Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

. Uzbek vocabulary has been heavily influenced by neighboring Persian language and its dialects, such as Tajik
Tajik language
Tajik, Tajik Persian, or Tajiki, is a variety of modern Persian spoken in Central Asia. Historically Tajiks called their language zabani farsī , meaning Persian language in English; the term zabani tajikī, or Tajik language, was introduced in the 20th century by the Soviets...

 and Dari
Dari (Persian)
Dari or Fārsī-ye Darī in historical terms refers to the Persian court language of the Sassanids. In contemporary usage, the term refers to the dialects of modern Persian language spoken in Afghanistan, and hence known as Afghan Persian in some Western sources. It is the term officially recognized...

.

Dialects


The Uzbek language has many dialect
Dialect
The term dialect is used in two distinct ways, even by linguists. One usage refers to a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group of the language's speakers. The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors,...

s, varying widely from region to region. However, there is a commonly understood dialect which is used in mass media and in most printed material.

Among the best known dialects are the Afghan dialect; the Ferghana dialect; the Khorezm dialect;
the Chimkent-Turkestan dialect; and the Surkhandarya dialect

Writing systems


Before 1928, the Uzbek language, like most Central Asian languages, was written in various forms of the Arabic script (Yana imla
Yaña imlâ
Yaña imlâ was a modified variant of Arabic script that was in use for the Tatar language in 1920–1927. The orthographical reform modified İske imlâ, abolishing excess Arabic letters, adding letters for short vowels e, ı, ö, o. Some diacritic, that looked like comma was used to designate the vowel...

) by the literate population. Between 1928 and 1940, as part of comprehensive programs to educate (and politically influence) Uzbek people, who for the first time now had their own cartographically delineated (administrative) region, Uzbek writing was switched to Latin script (Yanalif; a proposal for the latinization of Yana imla
Yaña imlâ
Yaña imlâ was a modified variant of Arabic script that was in use for the Tatar language in 1920–1927. The orthographical reform modified İske imlâ, abolishing excess Arabic letters, adding letters for short vowels e, ı, ö, o. Some diacritic, that looked like comma was used to designate the vowel...

 was already developed in 1924). The latinization of Uzbek was carried out in the context of latinization of all Turkic languages, and would not have happened if other Turkic languages had not been Latinized.

In 1940, Uzbek was forcefully switched to Cyrillic script under Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

. Until 1992, Uzbek continued to be written using a Cyrillic alphabet almost everywhere, but now in Uzbekistan the Latin script has been officially re-introduced, although the use of Cyrillic is still widespread. The deadline in Uzbekistan for making this transition has been repeatedly changed. The latest deadline was 2005, but was shifted once again to provide a few more years.

Already education in many areas of Uzbekistan is in the Latin script, and in 2001 the Latin script began to be used for coins. Since 2004 some official websites have switched over to using the Latin script when writing in Uzbek. Most street signs are also in the new Latin script.

In the Xinjiang
Xinjiang
Xinjiang is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. It is the largest Chinese administrative division and spans over 1.6 million km2...

 province of China, Uzbek has no official orthography. Some speakers write using the Cyrillic script, while others write using the Uyghur script , as that is the language they have used when they went to school.

Table of Uzbek Cyrillic and Latin alphabets, and represented sounds
Latin Cyrillic IPA
International Phonetic Alphabet
The International Phonetic Alphabet "The acronym 'IPA' strictly refers [...] to the 'International Phonetic Association'. But it is now such a common practice to use the acronym also to refer to the alphabet itself that resistance seems pedantic...

A a А а /a, æ/
B b Б б /b/
D d Д д /d̪/
E e Е е / Э э /e/Cyrillic "Е е" at the beginning of the word and after a vowel is "Ye ye" in Latin.
F f Ф ф /ɸ/
G g Г г /ɡ/
H h Ҳ ҳ /h/
I i И и /i, ɨ/
J j Ж ж /dʒ/
K k К к /k/
L l Л л /l/
M m М м /m/
N n Н н /n/
O o О о /ɒ, o/Pronounced /o/ only in Russian loanwords.
P p П п /p/
Q q Қ қ /q/
R r Р р /r/
S s С с /s/
T t Т т /t̪/
U u У у /u, y/
V v В в /w/
X x Х х /χ/
Y y Й й /j/
Z z З з /z/
Oʻ oʻ Ў ў /ø/
Gʻ gʻ Ғ ғ /ʁ/
Sh sh Ш ш /ʃ/
Ch ch Ч ч /tʃ/
ʼ ъ /ʔ/
Yo yo Ё ё /jo/
Yu yu Ю ю /ju/
Ya ya Я я /ja/
S s / Ts ts Ц ц /ts/


Notes

Text sample


Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly . The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled...

Uzbek in Latin scriptUzbek in Cyrillic scriptEnglish
Barcha odamlar erkin, qadr-qimmat va huquqlarda teng bo'lib tug'iladilar. Ular aql va vijdon sohibidirlar va bir-birlari ila birodarlarcha muomala qilishlari zarur. Барча одамлар эркин, қадр-қиммат ва ҳуқуқларда тенг бўлиб туғиладилар. Улар ақл ва виждон соҳибидирлар ва бир-бирлари ила биродарларча муомала қилишлари зарур. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Uzbek English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

Uning akasi bu yil universitetni bitirdi. His brother graduated from University this year.
Uning yuzi qizardi. He blushed.
Men har haftada ikki soat dars olaman. I have two hours of lessons every week.
Bu mamlakatning aholisi baxtiyordir. The people of this country are happy.
Bu ishni men muddatidan oldin bajardim. I completed this work before the set time.

Sources

  • Lars Johanson (1998) The History of Turkic. In Lars Johanson & Éva Ágnes Csató (eds) The Turkic Languages. London, New York: Rouiden & London, 1934, pp. 175–6
  • Yuri Bregel
    Yuri Bregel
    Yuri Bregel is a prominent academic in the field of Central Asian studies. He is one of the world's leading historians of Islamic Central Asia, and has published a number of import works on the subject.-Biography:...

    "The Sarts in the Khanate of Khiva" Journal of Asian History Vol.12 (1978) pp. 146–9
  • András J. E. Bodrogligeti: Modern Literary Uzbek – A Manual for Intensive Elementary, Intermediate, and Advanced Courses (Munich, Lincom 2002), 2 vols.
  • William Fierman: Language planning and national development. The Uzbek experience (Berlin etc., de Gruyter 1991).
  • Khayrulla Ismatulla: Modern literary Uzbek (Bloomington, Indiana University Press 1995).
  • Karl A. Krippes: Uzbek–English dictionary (Kensington, Dunwoody 1996).
  • Andrée F. Sjoberg: Uzbek Structural Grammar (The Hague, 1963).
  • A. Shermatov "A New Stage in the Development of Uzbek Dialectology" Essays on Uzbek History, Culture and Language Ed. Bakhtiyar A. Nazarov & Denis Sinor (Bloomington, Indiana) 1993 pp. 101–9
  • Natalie Waterson (ed.): Uzbek–English dictionary (Oxford etc., Oxford University Press 1980).

External links