The Uzbek Language
Submitted by Umida Khikmatillaeva, Indiana University
Uzbek is one of the Turkic languages that is considered to be part of the Altaic language family. Standard literary Uzbek belongs to the Qarluq group of the Turkic languages.
About 25 million people speak Uzbek as their native and second language. It is spoken in Uzbekistan, southern Kazakhstan, southern Kyrgyzstan, northern and western Tajikistan, eastern Turkmenistan, and in northern Afghanistan. There are speakers of Uzbek in northwestern China, Russia, Turkey, and the USA.
In Uzbekistan, the Uzbek alphabet was changed at least five times during the last 80 years. The Arabic script was used until 1929. The Latin alphabet was introduced in 1929, and in 1934 there were changes to the Latin alphabet. In 1940 the Uzbeks started to use the Cyrillic alphabet. In 1989 Uzbek became the official language of the Republic of Uzbekistan. In 1993 the new Latin alphabet was introduced and in 1995 there were some changes made in alphabet again. Currently in Uzbekistan, the Latin script is used mainly in school textbooks, university undergraduate textbooks, the Internet, in newspaper headlines, and in some official papers. Cyrillic is used in university graduate textbooks, in the content in newspapers below the headlines, and in some official/non-official papers.
Today, the following scripts are used by Uzbek speakers around the world:
The Uzbek lexicon contains many Arabic, Persian, and Russian loan words due to historical integration, and the influence of Islam. Many lexical changes have also taken place in Uzbek since the Glasnost period. After getting Independence, there were active attempts at purifying Uzbek by ridding the language of Russian words, reviving archaic and obsolete words, and changing the meaning of some existing words. Also, many international loan words were borrowed, some dialectal variants became standardized, and new words were created. This process was regulated during 1990s by the Terminology Committee. However, many international terms borrowed from Russian were retained in the language, since some proposed words were not accepted by the public.
Uzbek dialects are diverse and have elements of all three Turkic dialect groups such as Qarluq, Qipchaq, and Oghuz. There are many classifications of Uzbek dialects, based on phonetic and lexical features. The main classifications and their proponents are: Iranized and Non-Iranized dialects (Polivanov), “O” dialect group and “A” dialect group (Borovkov), Qarluq-Uyghur-Chigil, Qipchaq, and the Oghuz dialect groups (Reshetov).
The Uzbek language shares most features common to most of the Turkic languages:
Due to the influence of Iranian languages some dialects have lost vowel harmony. Vowel harmony is not reflected in modern literary Uzbek since it is based on the Tashkent and Ferghana dialects.
Studying Uzbek in the USA
There are many institutions in the USA where Uzbek is taught as a foreign language. One of the largest centers for study and research on Uzbek is at Indiana University in Bloomington. There are many centers related to the field at Indiana:
Search for additional institutions to study Uzbek in USA:
Andrée F. Sjoberg.Uzbek Structural Grammar. The Hague, 1963.
András J. E. Bodrogligeti.Modern Literary Uzbek.Munich, Lincom 2002, 2 vols.
Edward Allworth. Uzbek Literary Politics. The Hague, Netherlands: Mouton and Co. 1964.
Hendrik Boeschoten. Uzbek. The Turkic Languages. London, New York: Rouiden & London, 1998, pp 257-279.
Karl A. Krippes.Uzbek-English dictionary. Kensington, Dunwoody 1996.
Khayrulla Ismatulla.Modern literary Uzbek. Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1995.
Natalie Waterson.Uzbek–English dictionary. Oxford etc., Oxford University Press, 1980.
Nicolas Awde, William Dirks, Umida Khikmatillaeva. Uzbek dictionary and phrasebook. Hippocrene books. 2002.
William Fierman.Language planning and national development. The Uzbek experience. Berlin etc., de Gruyter, 1991.
Uzbek on the Turkic Language Map:
Uzbek Language Wikipedia:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uzbek_language
UCLA Language Materials Project:
Uzbek Writing Systems:http://www.omniglot.com/writing/uzbek.htm
Orthographic Rules for the Uzbek Language:http://www.oxuscom.com/orthography.htm
Outline of Uzbek Grammar:http://www.oxuscom.com/grammar.htm
Uzbek Dance and Culture Society:http://www.uzbekdance.org/
Uzbek TV and radio:http://www.mtrk.uz/uz/content/online/tv/
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