Uzbek language

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Uzbek ( Oʻzbek tili )

Spoken in

Uzbekistan , Afghanistan , Tajikistan , Kyrgyzstan , Kazakhstan , Turkmenistan , Russia , Xinjiang (China)
speaker approx. 27 million (2014)
Official status
Official language in UzbekistanUzbekistan Uzbekistan Afghanistan (regional)
Language codes
ISO 639 -1


ISO 639 -2


ISO 639-3

uzb (macro language) Languages ​​included: * uzn (North Uzbek) * uzs (South Uzbek)

Uzbek speakers

The Uzbek language ( Uzbek . Oʻzbek tili , Oʻzbekcha , outdated spelling Cyrillic Ўзбек тили and Arabic ئۇزبېك تیلى Oʻzbek tili ), Uzbek for short , is the most widely used Turkic language in Central Asia . In Uzbekistan it is the mother tongue of the majority of the population and the official language .

Language names

In addition to the term Uzbek , “Uzbek Turkish” (Turkish Özbek Türkçesi , Uzbek . Oʻzbek Turkchasi ) is also used as an alternative term in Turkish Turkology .

The Uzbek language variants in Afghanistan are called Uzbek tili , Uzbeki , Uzbaki or Uzbekcha .

The language name goes back to the name of the Uzbeks , who originally referred to a group of nomadic tribes who took control of western Central Asia in the 16th century and who in turn trace their name back to Uzbek Khan , a ruler of the Golden Horde in the 14th century. Today, however , the word Uzbek refers not only to the dialects ( Kyptschak-Uzbek ) that go back to the language of the Uzbeks in the 16th century , but also to the Turkic-language varieties, the predecessors of which were spoken in Central Asia before the Uzbek tribes immigrated and were then called Chagatan or Turki were called.


Uzbek belongs to the southeast group of the Turkic languages ​​( Uighur languages ). The language most closely related to Uzbek is Uyghur spoken in Chinese Xinjiang .

Today's Uzbek standard language is the immediate successor language of Chagatai .

Number of speakers and areas of distribution

There are around 27 million Uzbek speakers worldwide.

In Uzbekistan, almost all of the 22 million Uzbeks there speak Uzbek as their mother tongue.

Today around 873,000 people speak Uzbek in neighboring Tajikistan , 550,096 in Kyrgyzstan , 332,017 in Kazakhstan and 317,000 in Turkmenistan .

In Xinjiang , China , around 5000 of the approximately 12,000 ethnic Uzbeks there speak Uzbek.

About 2.9 million Uzbeks live in Afghanistan today. In contrast to the Central Asian former Soviet republics, the modern Uzbek standard language has no validity here. Many of the Uzbeks in Afghanistan speak Persian in addition to their Uzbek variety . The Afghan variant of the Uzbek language is written using the Arabic alphabet. The Afghan Uzbeks belonged to the Emirate of Bukhara until the 19th century . In 1886/93 the southern outskirts of the khanate came to Persia and when the Afghans made themselves independent a short time later, the Uzbeks came to the emirate of Afghanistan .

The terms South Uzbek and North Uzbek are also used to differentiate the form of Uzbek spoken in Afghanistan from the language form used in Uzbekistan and the other CIS countries . These terms are misleading, however, as South Uzbek and North Uzbek on the other hand also designate two of the Uzbek dialect groups, whereby South Uzbek dialects are also spoken by a large part of the inhabitants of Uzbekistan and are the basis of the standard language there.

In Turkey , in 1982, in exactly 1980, ethnic Uzbeks from Afghanistan stated Uzbek as their mother tongue.


The Uzbek language is essentially divided into four dialect groups :

  • The Nordusbekische spoken by the sedentary Uzbek population in southern Kazakhstan.
  • The Südusbekische spoken by the sedentary Uzbek population in the central and eastern Uzbekistan and northern Afghanistan. Within South Uzbek one can differentiate between Iranian and partially Iranian dialects. Due to their long-term coexistence with Iranian languages ( Persian or Tajik ), the Iranian dialects show numerous influences of these languages ​​not only in the lexical but also in the phonetic field. In particular, the vowel harmony that is otherwise valid in the Turkic languages ​​has been almost completely lost in the Iranian dialects . In the partially Iranian dialects, however, the vowel harmony is partially preserved. Iranian dialects of South Uzbek are spoken in the larger cities of central Uzbekistan, especially Bukhara , Samarkand, and Tashkent , as well as by the urban Uzbek population in northern Afghanistan. Partially Iranian dialects are spoken in the rural areas between the aforementioned cities and in the Fergana Valley . The urban dialect of Tashkent, which belongs to the Iranian dialects, is the basis of the pronunciation norm of the Uzbek standard language.
  • The Kyptschak-Uzbek , which from a system linguistic point of view is closer to the Kazakh than the other Uzbek dialects, is spoken by the Uzbek population groups who until recently had been nomadic or partially nomadic. These live or lived in areas suitable for nomadic forms of life, scattered across the entire Uzbek settlement area. Until the recent past, they were still divided into tribal associations, so that Kyptschak-Uzbek is not divided into city and local dialects like the other Uzbek dialects, but into tribal dialects.
  • The Oghuz-Uzbek that a transitional dialect to the neighboring systemlinguistischer of view Turkmen and Khorasan-Turkish forms, is spoken by the sedentary population in the southwestern Uzbekistan.

Development of the written language and alphabets

From Islamization to 1923 in Uzbekistan - as in all of Central Asia - Chagatan was used as a written language, which was written in Persian-Arabic letters .

In 1923 this alphabet was reformed, adapted to the Uzbek language and Uzbek as the written language in Uzbekistan.

In 1929, the New Turkic Alphabet was introduced and Uzbek began to adapt to the Oghuz languages . Phonically, this written Uzbek language was based on northern Uzbek and grammatically on the (partially Iranian) southern Uzbek Tashkent.

In the course of the 1930s, in the course of changes in the normative grammar, the sound system was also aligned with South Uzbek , which also led to further changes in the orthography.

In 1939/40, an adapted Cyrillic alphabet was introduced, which is based on the usual Russian script, but expanded with additional letters for the specifically Uzbek sounds.

At the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union (1988/89) there were efforts - in the course of re-nationalization and Islamization - to reintroduce the Persian-Arabic alphabet. However, due to a lack of government support, these were unsuccessful. Uzbek is now often written in Arabic script only in publications by Islamic / Islamist groups.

After the decision was made at the first meeting of all Turkish-speaking presidents (Ankara 1992) to adopt the new Turkish alphabet for the Turkic languages ​​of the former Soviet Union or, if it was not adopted, to develop a Latin-based alphabet, a draft for a Latin alphabet for Uzbek, which contained numerous diacritical marks.

In 1995, however, the Uzbek government decided to use the Latin alphabet without additional characters instead. Among other things, this should enable the use of the normal English typewriter and computer keyboard and avoid the additional effort of having your own character set. For those sounds for which no suitable Latin letter was available, digraphs were introduced whose sound value was based on the sound values ​​of the consonant combinations in English. The letters gʻ and oʻ use a hook as a diacritical mark, which in its normatively correct form is not identical to the apostrophe, but rather resembles a lowercase 6, while the apostrophe ʼ indicates a glottic stroke or a lengthening of the vowel. Both the Cyrillic and the Arabic alphabet should continue to be taught to enable access to older literature.

The standardization of the Uzbek Latin alphabet is not yet complete. In 2018, the Uzbek government published a draft for a new alphabet reform, in which most digraphs are to be abolished and replaced by diacritical marks.

The slow transition to Latin script began in public life since 1997. The final adoption of the Latin alphabet should be completed by 2005, but publications in Cyrillic were also printed in 2005 and afterwards. In particular, those generations who went to school during the Soviet Union still prefer the Cyrillic script.

In fact, the Cyrillic and Latin scripts are used in parallel today, even if the Latin alphabet is used exclusively by official bodies. Different personal preferences, especially of the older generation, as well as the chronic lack of money due to the poor economic situation, which hinders the printing of new publications in Latin script, make it likely that both alphabets will remain in use side by side for a long time. In addition to English and Russian , the official website of the capital Tashkent is available in both Cyrillic and Uzbek written in Latin.

Uzbek alphabets
(since 1995)
Cyrillic Pronunciation according to
A a А а [a], [æ]
B b Б б [b]
D d Д д [d]
E e Е е, Э э [ɛ], [e]
F f Ф ф [f]
G g Г г [G]
H h Ҳ ҳ [H]
I i И и [i], [ɨ], [ɪ]
J j Ж ж [dʒ], [ʒ]
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]
P p П п [p]
Q q Қ қ [q]
R r Р р [r]
S. s С с [s]
T t Т т [t]
U u У у [u], [y]
V v В в [w], [v]
X x Х х [x], [χ]
Y y Й й [j]
Z z З з [z]
O 'o' Ў ў [o], [ø]
G 'g' Ғ ғ [ɣ]
Sh sh Ш ш [ʃ]
Ch ch Ч ч [tʃ]
ʼ Ъ ъ [ʔ], -
Ng ng Нг нг [ŋ]
Ya ya Я я [Yes]
Yo yo Ё ё [jɒ]
Yu yu Ю ю [ju]
Ts ts Ц ц [ts]
ʼ Ь ь -


  1. At the beginning of the syllable, after a vowel, ъ or ь must be written in the Latin script Ye ye . If only the sound E e is to be displayed at these positions , Э э must be used.
  2. a b The diacritical mark of the letters Oʻ oʻ and Gʻ gʻ is in normative form not identical to the apostrophe, but rather resembles a small 6. In cursive it can also be replaced by a line placed over the letter. It corresponds to the typography used in Polynesian languages 'Okina . In manuscripts the characters can also be found as or ğ , or as ō or ŏ .
  3. a b apostrophe; the character U + 02BC modifying letter apostrophe is used for this. After consonants with the following vowel usually [ʔ], after vowel causes a lengthening of the preceding vowel; often mute in everyday language. In the letter group s'h it only serves to distinguish it from the digraph sh .
  4. a b c d e Digraph, not an official part of today's Latin alphabet.
  5. ^ Digraph, not an official part of the Cyrillic alphabet.
  6. a b Occurs mainly in foreign and loan words.

Uzbek language examples


  • Assalomu Alaykum! - Good day! Good day! (originally from Arabic, literally "Peace be upon you!")
  • Solom! - Hello!
  • Salom Berdik! - I salute you (you)!
  • Hormang! - Hello! (colloquial; e.g. when greeting colleagues)
  • Xayrli tong (kun, kech, do)! - Good morning (day, evening, night)!
  • Xush kelibsiz - Welcome
  • Ahvollaring yaxshimi? - How are you?
  • Rahmat, yaxshi - thank you, good.

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is listed below, in today's Latin script, in the old Uzbek modified Cyrilliza and as a German translation.

"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 people are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should meet one another in a spirit of brotherhood. "


  • Ingeborg Baldauf : Writing reform and correspondence among the Muslim Russian and Soviet Turks (1850–1937), a symptom of developments in the history of ideas and in cultural policy. Bibliotheca Orientalis Hungarica. Vol. 40. Akad. Kiadó, Budapest 1993.
  • András JE Bodrogligeti: Modern literary Uzbek, a manual for intensive elementary, intermediate, and advanced courses. Part 1 - 2. Cyrillic version. LINCOM language coursebooks. Vol. 10. LINCOM Europe, Munich 2002.
  • András JE Bodrogligeti: An academic reference grammar of modern literary Uzbek . Vol. 1 - 2. LINCOM studies in Asian linguistics. Vol. 50, 51. Munich, Lincom Europa 2003, ISBN 3-89586-694-6 , ISBN 3-89586-710-1
  • William Fierman: Language planning and national development, the Uzbek experience. Contributions to the sociology of language. Vol. 60. de Gruyter, Berlin 1991, ISBN 3-11-012454-8
  • Khayrulla Ismatulla: Modern literary Uzbek. Vol. 1. Ed. by Walter Feldman. Indiana University Uralic and Altaic series. 161, Indiana Univ., Bloomington 1995, ISBN 0-933070-36-5
  • Karl A. Krippes: Uzbek-English dictionary. Dunwoody, Kensington Md 1996, 2002, ISBN 1-881265-45-5
  • Angelika Landmann: Uzbek: short grammar. Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 2010, ISBN 978-3-447-06289-3
  • Andrée F. Sjoberg: Uzbek Structural Grammar. Indiana University Uralic and Altaic series. Vol. 18. The Hague 1963.
  • Natalie Waterson (Ed.): Uzbek - English dictionary. Comp. by Natalie Waterson. Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford 1980.
  • Stefan Wurm: The Özbek. In: Jean Deny et al. (Ed.): Philologiae Turcicae Fundamenta. Volume I. Wiesbaden 1959, pp. 489-524.
  • Баскаков Н. А. Историко-типологическая фонология тюркских языков / Отв. ред. член-корр. АН СССР Э. Р. Тенишев. - М .: Наука, 1988. - 208 с, ISBN 5-02-010887-1 .
  • Исматуллаев Х. Х. Самоучитель узбекского языка. - Ташкент: Ўқитувчи, 1991. - 145 с.
  • Кононов А. Н. Грамматика современного узбекского литературного языка. - М., Л .: Издательство АН СССР, 1960.
  • Ходжиев А. П. Узбекский язык // Языки мира: Тюркские языки. - М .: Институт языкознания РАН, 1996. - С. 426-437. - (Языки Евразии), ISBN 5-655-01214-6 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ CIA - The World Factbook - Uzbekistan
  2. ^ Ethnologue report for Afghanistan
  3. Ethnologue report for Tajikistan
  4. Перепись-2009 ( Memento of the original from January 21, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. Перепись населения Казахстана 2009 года ( Memento of the original from May 1, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  6. Ethnologue report for Turkmenistan
  7. Информационные материалы об окончательных итогах Всероссийской переписи населения 2010 года
  8. Ethnologue report for Northern Uzbek
  9. Ethnologue report for Southern Uzbek
  10. Article 16 of the Afghan Constitution (2004)
  11. a b c Ethnologue entry on North Uzbek
  12. Ethnologue entry on South Uzbek . The number of speakers of 1,400,000 mentioned there is obviously out of date, reliable current figures are difficult to obtain.
  13. a b Ethnologue entry on South Uzbek
  14. So in the ethnologue entry on Uzbek .
  15. See the overview of the Uzbek dialects in Stefan Wurm: Das Özbekische. In: Jean Deny et al. (Ed.): Philologiae Turcicae Fundamenta. Volume I. Wiesbaden 1959, pp. 489-524.
  16. Stefan Wurm: The Özbek. In: Jean Deny et al. (Ed.): Philologiae Turcicae Fundamenta. Volume I. Wiesbaden 1959, pp. 489-524.
  17. Лотин ёзувига асосланган ўзбек алифбоси ҳақида ишчи гуруҳнинг сўнгги хулосаси ( Uzbek ) Uzbek state news agency UzA. November 6, 2018. Retrieved November 7, 2018.