Old Uyghur alphabet

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Old Uyghur alphabet
Uighur native name.svg
LanguagesOld Uyghur, Western Yugur
Time period
Parent systems
Child systems
Traditional Mongolian alphabet

The Old Uyghur alphabet was used for writing the Old Uyghur language, a variety of Old Turkic spoken in Turfan (also referred to as Turpan) and Gansu that is an ancestor of the modern Yugur language. The term "Old Uyghur" used for this alphabet is misleading because the Kingdom of Qocho, the Tocharian-Uyghur kingdom created in 843, originally used the Old Turkic alphabet. The Uyghur adopted this script from local inhabitants when they migrated into Turfan after 840.[1] It was an adaptation of the Aramaic alphabet used for texts with Buddhist, Manichaean and Christian content for 700–800 years in Turpan. The last known manuscripts are dated to the 18th century. This was the prototype for the Mongolian and Manchu alphabets. The Old Uyghur alphabet was brought to Mongolia by Tata-tonga.

Like the Sogdian alphabet (technically, an abjad), the Old Uyghur tended to use matres lectionis for the long vowels as well as for the short ones. (This practice is also used to some extent in Modern Israeli Hebrew; where it is known as full spelling.) The practice of leaving short vowels unrepresented was almost completely abandoned.[2] Thus, while ultimately deriving from a Semitic abjad, the Old Uyghur alphabet can be said to have been largely "alphabetized".[3]

Uighur vert.gif


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sinor, D. (1998), "Chapter 13 - Language situation and scripts", in Asimov, M.S.; Bosworth, C.E., History of Civilisations of Central Asia, 4 part II, UNESCO Publishing, p. 333, ISBN 81-208-1596-3
  2. ^ Clauson, Gerard. 2002. Studies in Turkic and Mongolic linguistics. P.110-111.
  3. ^ Houston, Stephen D. 2004. The first writing: script invention as history and process. P.59


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