|oʻzbekcha, oʻzbek tili; ўзбекча, ўзбек тили; اوزبیکچه, اوزبیک تیلی|
|Native to||Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Russia, China|
|33 million (2019)|
|Latin, Cyrillic, and Arabic (used in Afghanistan and China), Uzbek Braille |
Official language in
Afghanistan (3rd official language)
|Regulated by||Tashkent State University of Uzbek language and literature|
Dark blue = majority; light blue = minority
Uzbek is a Turkic language that is the first official and only declared national language of Uzbekistan. The language of Uzbeks, it is spoken by some 33 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, Arabic and Russian. One of the most noticeable distinctions of Uzbek from other Turkic languages is the rounding of the vowel /ɑ/ to /ɒ/, a feature that was influenced by Persian.
In the language itself, Uzbek is oʻzbek tili or oʻzbekcha. In Arabic script, اوزبیک تیلی and اوزبیکچه.
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 the 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 Persian and Arabic loanwords. By the 19th century it was rarely used for literary composition, but disappeared only in the early 20th century.
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 Transoxiana with 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 people.
- "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 have vowel harmony. It became the standard Uzbek language and the official dialect of Uzbekistan.
In Khanate of Khiva, Sarts spoke a highly Oghuz Turkified form of Karluk Turkic. After 1921 the Soviet regime abolished the term Sart as 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 Samarkand region. 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 spoken Uzbek.
Uzbek has been written in a variety of scripts throughout history:
- Pre-1928: the Arabic-based 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.
- 1940–1992: the Cyrillic script used officially.
- Yañalif-based Latin script is official in Uzbekistan.
Despite the official status of the Latin script in Uzbekistan, the use of 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 minority, the Arabic is still used.
In Afghanistan, the traditional Arabic orthography is still used.
Standard Uzbek has six vowel phonemes:
Morphology and syntax
As a Turkic language, Uzbek is null subject, agglutinative and has no articles and no noun classes (gender or otherwise). The word order is subject–object–verb (SOV). Words are usually oxytones (i.e. the last syllable is stressed), but certain endings and suffixal particles are not stressed.
In Uzbek, there are two main categories of words:
- nominals (equivalent to nouns, pronouns, adjectives and some adverbs)
- verbals (equivalent to verbs and some adverbs)
Uzbek uses the following verbal suffixes:
The present and future tenses are both expressed with the -a and -y suffixes.
Nouns take the -ni suffix as an indefinite article. Unsuffixed nouns are understood as definite.
(formal singular and plural)
The word order in the Uzbek language is subject–object–verb (SOV), which means that, unlike in English, the object comes before the verb and the verb is the last element of the sentence.
|I see the book|
|subject||direct object||transitive verb|
Number of speakers
Estimates of the number of speakers of Uzbek vary widely. The Swedish encyclopedia Nationalencyklopedin estimates the number of native speakers to be 30 million, and the 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 Russia.
The influence of Islam, and by extension, Arabic, is evident in Uzbek loanwords. There is also a residual influence of Russian, from the time when 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 historic roots. Uzbek has been significantly influenced by Persian and it also influenced Tajik (a variety of Persian). Among Turkic languages, perhaps Uzbek is the most influenced language by Persian.
The 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 Surkhandarya dialect.
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Northern at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
Southern at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
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|Uzbek edition of Wikipedia, 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
- Uzbek Latin-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 1905)
- 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, 1995
- Uzbek alphabet, Omniglot
- Learning/teaching materials