Uighur language

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ئۇيغۇرچە- Uyghurche
Уйғурчә - Uyƣurqə
维吾尔 语 - Wéiwú'ěryǔ

Spoken in

China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China , Kyrgyzstan , Kazakhstan
speaker 10,389,840
Official status
Official language in Xinjiang , PR China
Language codes
ISO 639 -1


ISO 639 -2


ISO 639-3


The Uighur language ( Uighur ئۇيغۇرچە Uyghurche , Cyrillic Уйғурчә, Уйғур тили , Yengi Uyƣurqə , Chinese  維吾爾 語  /  维吾尔 语 , Pinyin Wéiwú'ěryǔ , tooئۇيغۇر تىلى Uyƣur tili, Uyghur tili ) is a Turkic language that is mainly spoken by the Uyghurs living in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China .

Uighur is now written using a modified Persian-Arabic alphabet .

Names and demarcation

In turkological research in Turkey , the language is called "Uyghur Turkish " ( Uygur Türkçesi ). In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the language was called "Turkish" ( Turki ), and in German Turkology well into the 20th century, it was also known as "Eastern Turkish ". The forerunner is the " Tschagatai ".

The Uighur language dealt with here is to be distinguished from the language of the medieval Uighurs and the so-called Uighur texts from the 9th to 17th centuries named after them, found in large numbers at various sites in Xinjiang. The language of these texts and that of the medieval Uighurs is attributed to Old Turkish . The descendants of the medieval Uyghurs are the Yugurs , insofar as they have not accepted Islam and are incorporated into the Islamic and Turkish-speaking population of Xinjiang, which is now known as the Uyghur.


Together with the Uzbek language, the Uighur language is one of the Karluk languages , a sub-category of the Turkic languages. Other Uighur languages ​​are Yugur , Ainu and Ili Turki .

Geographical distribution

The Uighur language is the mother tongue of around 7.6 million people. In 1990 , over 7.214 million people in the Chinese census gave Uyghur as their first language; 4.7 million of them in Xinjiang alone. 1.15 million gave Hotan, 25,000 Yuli, 2,000 Akto-Turkmen and around 120 Ili-Turkish as their mother tongue . There are strong Uyghur minorities in the neighboring countries of Kazakhstan (185,301), Kyrgyzstan (36,779) and Uzbekistan (33,762), while smaller minorities (3,000 Uyghurs) lived in 1990 in Afghanistan , Pakistan , India , 1,000 in Mongolia and 500 in Turkey .

Dialects and sociolects

The Uighur language is still divided into numerous dialects , which, with the exception of the "Dolan dialect" and " Ili Turkish ", are named after the main places of their speakers: Kashi ( Kashgar ), Yeni ( Yengisar ), Shache ( Yarkant ), Hotan ( Hotan ), Keriya ( Keriya ), Qarqan ( Qarqan ), Aksu , Karaxahr ( Karashahr ), Kuqa ( Kuqa ), Turpan ( Turpan ), Hami ( Kumul ), Ürümqi ( Ürümqi ), Yuli ( Lopnur ), Dolan , Ili- Türki ( Kuldscha , Gulja , Tarantschi) and Akto Türkmen .

  • The Dolan dialect is spoken in the oasis areas around the Tarim basin and the Taklamakan desert.
  • The Ili-Turkish is to be settled as a transition dialect between Chagatai and Kyptschak-Uzbek . It comes from the Uzbek-Kyrgyz border area of ​​the Fergana Valley and is only spoken by mostly older people. The language carriers came to Xinjiang around 200 years ago .
  • The Akto-Turkmen is a special Uighur dialect that has 500 independent words. The Akto-Turkmen also have their own customs and traditions; According to their origin, they come from Samarkand . The Akto-Turkmen settle in 2 villages (Kösarap and Oytak). The next larger town is Akto, south of Kashgar.

(The Acto-Turkmen are officially assigned to the Kyrgyz by the Chinese central government , while they themselves feel they belong to the Uyghurs.) New Uyghur is - although this is claimed by some Turkish historians and by today's linguists - not as a direct continuation of Old Uyghur to watch. Rather, the name Uygur was adopted at a congress of the Turkic peoples of Turkestan in West Turkestan ( Tashkent ) and transferred to a large part of the population of eastern Turkestan.

Phonetics and Phonology


Uighur distinguishes 23 consonant phonemes:

phoneme b p m f w d t n l r z s ʤ ʧ (ʒ) ʃ j ɡ k ŋ q χ ʁ H
spelling, orthography Latin b p m f w d t n l r z s j / zh q / ch x / sh y G k ng H ƣ
Arabic ب پ م ف ۋ د ت ن ل ر ز س ج چ ژ ش ي گ ك ڭ ق ھ غ ھ
Cyrillic б п м ф в д т н л р з с җ ч ж ш й г к ң қ х ғ һ

The consonant / f / did not originally appear in Uighur.

In modern written language it is written in newer loan words from Chinese and Russian, but in everyday language it is often replaced by / p /.

Uighur meaning Source word Language of origin
fuŋ (fu) Fen (currency unit) Chinese
mofaŋ (mopaŋ) Mill 磨坊
familɛ (pamilɛ) family name фамилия Russian
fabrika (pabrika) factory фабрика

In older loanwords from Chinese, Persian and Arabic, / f / was regularly replaced by / p / and is also written that way.

Uighur meaning Source word Language of origin
pintoza Pasta fěntiáozi粉条 子 Chinese
sɛjpuŋ cutter cáiféng裁缝
paʃ discover fāš فاش Persian
dap Hand drum dāf داف
pikir opinion fikr فكر Arabic
pɛrq difference farq فرق

Voiced consonants are spoken and written voiceless at the end of a word (final sounding).


Uighur distinguishes 8 vowel phonemes:

phoneme i e ɛ a O O u y
spelling, orthography Latin i e ə a O ɵ u ü
Arabic ى ې ە ا و ۆ ۇ ۈ
Cyrillic и е ә а о ө у ү

The vowel / i / is mostly pronounced [ɪ]; in the vicinity of the consonants q, ʁ, χ and ŋ it approaches [ɤ], after s and z it is often pronounced [z̩]. The vowel / ɛ / approaches a more open [æ] around the consonants q, ʁ, χ, ŋ and h. The vowel / a / is mostly pronounced [ɑ]. The vowel / o / is mostly pronounced [o]; in the vicinity of the consonants q, ʁ, χ and ŋ it approaches [ɔ].

The vowels / i /, / u / and / y / are often spoken voiceless in the vicinity of voiceless vowels.

Consonant clusters are partially resolved by epenthetic vowels:

example with epenthesis meaning
stuck istakan Glass
plan pilan plan
klup kulup Club
grammars girammatika grammar
ponkt ponkit Point

Vowel harmony

Uighur, like other Turkic languages, knows vowel harmony. The vowel harmony is partially obscured by umlaut phenomena (see below).

Vowel harmony within the word stem

If the first vowel in a polysyllabic word is ɛ, ø, y, i or e, then the following syllables usually contain ɛ, y or i.

If the first vowel is a, o, or u, the following syllables tend to include a or u.

Vowel harmony of the suffixes

Suffixes, which according to the law of vowel harmony vary depending on the vowels of the word stem, have either two forms with a and ɛ or two forms with u and y. Suffixes with the vowel i can appear on all stems.


In monosyllabic words, a and ɛ before suffixes with the vowels i and ɛ usually become e or i.

In polysyllabic words, a and ɛ usually become i before suffixes.


As in other Turkic languages, the last syllable is usually stressed in polysyllabic words, and when the root of the word is expanded with suffixes, the stress shifts to the last suffix.


In addition to Turkish-speaking hereditary words, there are numerous Persian loan words in Uighur. Internationalisms were often taken from Russian. There are also many loan words from Chinese.

Language of origin Original word Original word ( IPA ) Uighur Uighur ( IPA ) German
Persian افسوس [æfˈsus] əpsus ئەپسۇس / ɛpsus / pity
گوشت [ɡoʃt] gɵx گۆش / ɡøʃ / flesh
Arabic ساعة [ˈSaːʕat] ( Status constructus ) sows سائەت / saʔɛt / hour
Russian велосипед [vʲɪləsʲɪˈpʲɛt] welsipit ۋېلسىپىت / welsipit / bicycle
доктор [ˈDoktər] dohtur دوختۇر / doχtur / Doctor
поезд [ˈPo.jɪst] poyiz پويىز / pojiz / train
область [ˈObləsʲtʲ] oblast ئوبلاست / oblast / Oblast , region
телевизор [tʲɪlʲɪˈvʲizər] telewizor تېلېۋىزور / televizor / TV
English radio [ˈɹeɪdiːəʊ] radiyo رادىئو / radijo / radio
telephone [ˈTɛləfəʊn] phone تېلېفون /phone/ phone
Chinese 凉粉 , liángfěn [li̯ɑŋ˧˥fən˨˩] lightening لەڭپۇڭ / lɛmpuŋ / Agar Agar
豆腐 , dòufu [tou̯˥˩fu˩] dufu دۇفۇ / dufu / tofu


The pre-Islamic Turkish languages ​​known as Old Turkish or (Old) Uighur in the area of ​​today's Mongolia and today's China were written with the so-called Orkhon runes , later also with their own Uighur alphabet . Its direction of writing changed under Chinese influence to vertical from top to bottom. So it was adopted by the Mongols. After the adoption of Islam , the Turkic-speaking peoples of Central Asia wrote their idioms with an adapted Arabic alphabet. In continuation of the old Uighur tradition, the vowels were also designated in the vowelless Arabic script (so-called plene spelling ). The Chagatan language prevailed as a written language, which was broken down into local varieties from the 17th century and was replaced by the (New) Uighur language from the 20th century.

Xinjiang experimented with Latin and Cyrillic alphabets in the 1920s to 1940s . In 1969, Latin scripts were introduced for several Turkic languages ​​in China, which were mainly based on the pinyin transcription for Chinese (e.g. x forش [ʃ], q for چ[ʧ]), so also for Uighur. In 1987 this Latin script was abolished and an Arabic-Persian alphabet was reintroduced, in which, however, unlike the old spelling, all vowels are clearly differentiated.


General descriptions and grammars

  • Zhào Xiāngrú 赵 相 如, Zhū Zhìníng 朱志宁: Wéiwú'ěryǔ jiǎnzhì《维吾尔 语 简 志, 北京 民族 出版社》 (Outline of the Uighur language). Beijing: Mínzú chūbǎnshè 民族 出版社, 1985.
  • Angelika Landmann: Uighur: short grammar ; Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 2012, ISBN 978-3-447-06680-8


  • Huá Jǐnmù 华锦 木 (ed.): Ⱪollinixqan Uyƣur tili قوللىنىشچان ئۇيغۇر تىلى/ Shíyòng Wéiyǔ《实用 维 语》 (Practical Uyghur), 2 vols.Urümqi: Xīnjiāng Wéiwú'ěr Zìzhìqū rénshìtīng 新疆维吾尔自治区 人事 厅, 2002.
  • Hamit A. Zakir / Hǝmit Zakir خەمىت زاكىر: Introduction to Modern Uighur / Ⱨazirⱪi zaman Uyƣur tili ھازىرقى زامان ئۇيغۇر تىلى. Ürümqi: Xinjiang University Press / Xinjiang Uniwersiteti nǝxriyati, 2007; ISBN 7-5631-2077-7 .
  • Michael Friedrich, Abdurishid Yakup: Uyghur - textbook. Wiesbaden: Reichert, 2002.
  • Tarjei Engesæth, Mahire Yakup, Arienne Dwyer: Teklimakandin Salam: hazirqi zaman Uyghur tili qollanmisi - Greetings from the Teklimakan: A Handbook of Modern Uyghur ; University of Kansas Scholarworks, Lawrence KS 2009, ISBN 978-1-936153-03-9 (textbook), ISBN 978-1-936153-04-6 (audio). (Textbook and audio: hdl: 1808/5624 )


  • Hǝnzuqǝ-Uyƣurqǝ Luƣǝt, sinak nus'hisi / Han Wei cidian, shibianben《汉 维 词典 , 试 编 本》 (Chinese-Uyghur dictionary, experimental edition). Ürümqi: Xinjiang hǝlⱪ nǝxriyati / Xīnjiāng rénmín chūbǎnshè 新疆 人民出版社, 1974.
  • Uyƣurqǝ-Hǝnzuqǝ luƣǝt / Wei Han cidian《维 汉 词典》 (Uyghur-Chinese dictionary). Ürümqi: Xinjiang hǝlⱪ nǝxriyati / Xīnjiāng rénmín chūbǎnshè 新疆 人民出版社, 1982.
  • Mirsultan Osmanof, Zayit Eli: Uyƣurqǝ-Hǝnzuqǝ luƣǝt / Wei-Han da cidian《维 汉 大 词典》 (Large Uighur-Chinese Lexicon). Beijing: Millǝtlǝr nǝxriyati / Mínzú chūbǎnshè 民族 出版社, 2006.
  • Liào Zéyú 廖 泽 余, Mǎ Jùnmín 马俊民 (ed.): Uyƣurqә – Hәnzuqә luƣәt ئۇيغۇرچە-خەنزۇچە لۇغەت/ Wéi – Hàn cídiǎn《维 汉 词典》 (Uyghur-Chinese dictionary). Urumqi:شىنجاڭ خەلق نەشرىياتى, 2000; ISBN 7-228-05811-9 .
  • Mirsultan Osmanof مىرسۇلتان ئوسمانوف(Ed.): Ⱨazirⱪi zaman Uyƣur әdәbiy tilining imla wә tәlәppuz luƣiti ھازىرقى زامان ئۇيغۇر ئەدەبىي تىلىنىڭ ئىملا ۋە تەلەپپۇز لۇغىتى(Orthographic and orthoepic dictionary of the modern Uighur written language). Urumqi:شىنجاڭ خەلق نەشرىياتى, 1997; ISBN 7-228-04090-2 .
  • Әnwәr Jappar ئەنۋەر جاپپار, Ablt Imin ئابلەت ئىمىن, Abdurahman Әbәy ئابدۇراخمان ئەبەي(Ed.): Hәnzuqә – Uyƣurqә qong luƣәt خەنزۇچە-ئۇيغۇرچە چوڭ لۇغەت / Hàn – Wéi dà cídiǎn 《汉 维 大 词典》 (Large Chinese-Uighur dictionary), 2 vols. Ürümqi: شىنجاڭ ياشلار-ئۆسمۈرلەر نەشرىياتى, 2006; ISBN 7-5371-3764-1 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Uighur at Ethnologue
  2. http://www.turkiclanguages.com/www/classification.html
  3. Zhao / Zhu p. 7.
  4. Zhao / Zhu p. 8.
  5. Zhao / Zhu p. 8; for further consonant allophones see e.g. B. Zhao / Zhu pp. 11-13.
  6. Zhao / Zhu p. 26.
  7. Zhao / Zhu p. 4.
  8. Zhao / Zhu p. 14.
  9. Zhao / Zhu p. 16.
  10. Zhao / Zhu p. 19.
  11. Zhao / Zhu p. 23.
  12. Zhao / Zhu p. 23.
  13. Exceptions see e.g. B. Zhao / Zhu p. 16.
  14. ^ Uyghur alphabets, pronunciation and language