Uzbek is a Turkic language spoken by about 30 million people mainly in Uzbekistan, and also in Afghanistan, Turkey. There are two main varieties of Uzbek: Northern Uzbek and Southern Uzbek. They are to some extent mutually intelligible, although there are differences in grammar and vocabulary.
Northern Uzbek (ўзбек тили / o’zbek tili) is spoken mainly in Uzbekistan, and also in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkemenistan, Kazakhstan and China. There are 22.2 million speakers of Northern Uzbek in Uzbekistan (in 2015), 927,000 in Tajikistan (in 2012), 840,000 in Kyrgyzstan (in 2014), 478,000 in Turkmenistan (in 2015), 436,000 in Kazakhstan (in 2009) and 5,000 in China (in 2000). There are also about 400,000 speakers of Uzbek in Russia. The language is taught in schools and used in the media in Uzbekistan. It is also known as o'zbek, o'zbekcha or Özbek.
Since the 1990s fluency in Uzbek has been a requirement for citizenship of Uzbekistan, and also for government jobs. There has also been a trend to replace Russian and other international words with their Turkic equivalents.
Southern Uzbek (ﯣزبېک [o’zbek]) is spoken mainly in northern Afghanistan. In 2011 there were about 2.9 million speakers in Afghanistan, and another 3,800 speakers in Turkey. Southern Uzbek is written with the Arabic script, is taught in schools, and used in literature and the media. It is also known as O'zbek, Usbeki, Uzbak or Uzbeki.
An early form of Uzbek, known as Chagatai (one of the sons of Genghis Khan) and written with the Arabic script, emerged as a literary language in the 14th century. A version of the Latin alphabet replaced the Arabic script in 1927, and was in turn replaced by the Cyrillic alphabet in 1940. In 1993 the government of Uzbekistan decided to switch to the Latin alphabet, with the aim to complete the transition by the year 2000. The Arabic alphabet is still used in Afghanistan, and sometimes in Uzbekistan and China.
Hear how to pronounce Uzbek:
Барча одамлар эрҝин, қадр-қиммат ва ҳуқуқларда танг бўлиб туғиладилар. Улар ақл ва виждон соҳибидирлар ва бир-бирларига биродарларча муомала қилишлари зарур.
Barcha odamlar erkin, qadr-qimmat va huquqlarda tang bo'lib tug'iladilar. Ular aql va vijdon sohibidirlar va bir-birlariga birodarlarcha muomala qilishlari zarur.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are
endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a
spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Information about the Uzbek language
Online Uzbek lessons
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