The Uzbek language has been written in various scripts: Latin, Cyrillic and Arabic. The language traditionally used Arabic script, but the official Uzbek government under the Soviet Union started to use Cyrillic in 1940, which is when widespread literacy campaigns were initiated by the Soviet government across the Union. In Uzbekistan, the Latin script was officially reintroduced, along with Cyrillic, in 1992, and a full transition to Latin script is awaiting implementation. In neighboring Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, people use Cyrillic. In the Xinjiang region of China, some Uzbek speakers write using Cyrillic, others with an alphabet based on the Uyghur Arabic alphabet. Uzbeks of Afghanistan also write the language using Arabic script, and the Arabic Uzbek alphabet is taught at some schools in the country.
For more information on Uzbek Arabic Alphabet, see Southern Uzbek language.
Like all Turkic languages in Central Asia, Uzbek was written in various forms of the Arabic script such as Yana imla by the literate population. Arabic script is still used for writing of Uzbek in Afghanistan and by Afghan-Uzbek diaspora elsewhere. In the early 21st century, with the publication of dictionaries and literature by Afghan-Uzbek scholars, as well as the adaptation of Uzbek Arabic script by domestic as well as international news outlets (such as BBC News Uzbek Afghanistan, Link), the Arabic script has undergone a process of documentation and standardization.
In Uzbek SSR, the alphabet was changed from Arabic to Latin in 1928.
|ا / آ||ب||پ||ت||ث||ج||چ||ح|
Between 1928 and 1940, as part of comprehensive programmes to "educate" (politically influence) Uzbek people, who for the first time now had their own cartographically delineated (administrative) region, Uzbek writing in the Uzbek SSR was switched to Latin script (Yanalif; a proposal for the latinization of Yana imla was already developed in 1924). The Latinization of Uzbek was carried out in the context of Latinization of all languages in the Soviet Union.
|A a||B ʙ||C c||Ç ç||D d||E e||Ə ə||F f|
|G g||Ƣ ƣ||H h||I i||J j||K k||L l||M m|
|N n||Ꞑ ꞑ||O o||Ө ө||P p||Q q||R r||S s|
|Ş ş||T t||U u||V v||X x||Y y||Z z||Ƶ ƶ|
In 1940, Uzbek was switched to the Cyrillic script under Joseph Stalin:
|А а||Б б||В в||Г г||Д д||Е е||Ё ё||Ж ж||З з|
|И и||Й й||К к||Л л||М м||Н н||О о||П п||Р р|
|С с||Т т||У у||Ф ф||Х х||Ц ц||Ч ч||Ш ш||Ъ ъ|
|Ь ь||Э э||Ю ю||Я я||Ў ў||Қ қ||Ғ ғ||Ҳ ҳ|
Until 1992, Uzbek in the USSR continued to be written using a Cyrillic alphabet almost exclusively, but now in Uzbekistan the Latin script has been officially re-introduced, although the use of Cyrillic is still widespread. The deadline in Uzbekistan for making this transition has been repeatedly changed. In 1993, President of Uzbekistan at the time Islam Karimov proposed a new Uzbek alphabet with ⟨c⟩ /ts/, ⟨ç⟩, ⟨ğ⟩, ⟨ɉ⟩, ⟨ñ⟩, ⟨ö⟩, ⟨ş⟩, until it was replaced with the current 1995 alphabet. The letter J with stroke is said to have been the equivalent of Cyrillic letter Zhje.
Education in many areas of Uzbekistan is in the Latin script, and in 2001 the Latin script began to be used on coins. Since 2004, some official websites have switched over to using the Latin script when writing in Uzbek. Most street signs are also in the new Latin script. The main national TV channel of Uzbekistan, Oʻzbekiston Telekanali (owned by MTRK), has also switched to the Latin script when writing in Uzbek, although news programs are still broadcast in Cyrillic script (compare with another TV channel owned by the same company, Yoshlar, broadcasts news programs in Latin script). Additionally, in Afghanistan Uzbek continues to be written in the Arabic script.
In 2018, the Uzbek government launched another reform effort for the Uzbek Latin alphabet. The new proposal called for replacing some digraphs with diacritical signs. In March 2021, the proposed changes were put up for public discussion and debate. They called for replacing Ch ch, Sh sh, Gʻ gʻ, Oʻ oʻ with Ç ç, Ş ş, Ḡ ḡ, Ō ō (and, in loans, Ts ts with C c). This would largely reverse the 1995 reform and bring the orthography closer to those of Turkish, Turkmen, Karakalpak, Kazakh (2018 version) and Azerbaijani. This was met with mixed reactions from the citizens. The proposal was put up again for discussion in May of the same year, this time with a deadline of 1 November 2021.
In February 2021, the Uzbek government announced that Uzbekistan plans to fully transition the Uzbek language from the Cyrillic script to a Latin-based alphabet by 1 January 2023. Similar deadlines had been extended several times.
Generally the younger generation prefers to use the Latin alphabet, while the older generation, who grew up in the Soviet era, prefers the Cyrillic alphabet. The Latin alphabet is mainly used in business and tourism, and the Cyrillic alphabet is mainly used in official government documents.
According to a report in 2023, Uzbek publishing houses still mostly used the Cyrillic alphabet.
The current (1995) Uzbek Latin alphabet has 29 letters:
|Majuscule forms (also called uppercase or capital letters)|
|Minuscule forms (also called lowercase or small letters)|
The symbol ⟨‘⟩ does not constitute a separate letter.
Below is a table of Uzbek Cyrillic and Latin alphabets with represented sounds.
|Latin[N 1]||Yañalif (1934–1940)||Cyrillic equivalent||Name||Arabic||IPA||English approximation|
|A a||Ə ə||А а||a||ا / ه||/a/||chai, cat|
|B b||B ʙ||Б б||be||ب||/b/||bat|
|D d||D d||Д д||de||د||/d̪/||den|
|E e||E e||Э э / Е е||e||اې / ې||/e/[N 2]||bet|
|F f||F f||Ф ф||ef||ف||/ɸ/||fish|
|G g||G g||Г г||ge||گ||/ɡ/||go|
|H h||H h||Ҳ ҳ||ha||ھ and ح||/h/||house|
|I i||I i||И и||i||ای / ی||/i/||me|
|J j||Ç ç||Ж ж||je||ج||/dʒ/||joke|
|Ƶ ƶ||ژ||/ʒ/[N 3]||vision|
|K k||K k||К к||ka||ک||/k/||cold|
|L l||L l||Л л||el||ل||/l/||list|
|M m||M m||М м||em||م||/m/||man|
|N n||N n||Н н||en||ن||/n/||next|
|O o||A a||О о||o||ا / آ||/ɒ/, /o/[N 3]||hot, call (Received Pronunciation)|
|P p||P p||П п||pe||پ||/p/||pin|
|Q q||Q q||Қ қ||qa||ق||/q/, /χ/[N 4]||like a "k", but further back in the throat|
|R r||R r||Р р||er||ر||/r/||(trilled) rat|
|S s||S s||С с||es||ث and س and ص||/s/||sick|
|T t||T t||Т т||te||ت and ط||/t̪/||toe|
|U u||U u||У у||u||او / و||/u/||put, choose|
|V v||V v||В в||ve||ۋ||/v~w/||van|
|X x||X x||Х х||xa||خ||/χ/||"ch" as in German "Bach" or Scottish "loch"|
|Y y||J j||Й й||ye||ی||/j/||yes|
|Z z||Z z||З з||ze||ذ and ز and ض and ظ||/z/||zebra|
|Oʻ oʻ||O o||Ў ў||oʻ||اۉ / ۉ||/o/||row, fur|
|Gʻ gʻ||Ƣ ƣ||Ғ ғ||gʻa||غ||/ʁ/||like a French or German "r"|
|Sh sh||Ş ş||Ш ш||sha||ش||/ʃ/||shoe|
|Ch ch||C c||Ч ч||che||چ||/tʃ/||chew|
|Ng ng||Ꞑ ꞑ||Нг нг||nge||نگ||/ŋ/||king|
|ʼ||ʼ||ъ||tutuq belgisi (ʼ) ("apostrophe"); ayirish/ajratish belgisi (ъ)||ء / أ / ؤ / ئ and ع||/ʔ/||Both "ʼ" (tutuq belgisi) and "ъ" (ayirish belgisi) are used either (1) to mark the phonetic glottal stop when put immediately before a vowel or (2) to mark a long vowel when placed immediately after a vowel [N 5]|
The Cyrillic letters Ё ё, Ю ю, Я я correspond to the sound combinations yo, yu, ya.
The Cyrillic letters Ц ц and ь (capital Ь occurs only in all-capitals writing) are used only in loanwords. In the modern Uzbek Latin alphabet ц becomes ts after vowels, s otherwise; ь is omitted (except ье, ьи, ьо, that become ye, yi, yo).
When the Uzbek language is written using the Latin script, the letters Oʻ (Cyrillic Ў) and Gʻ (Cyrillic Ғ) are properly rendered using the character U+02BB ʻ MODIFIER LETTER TURNED COMMA, which is also known as the ʻokina. However, since this character is absent from most keyboard layouts (except for the Hawaiian keyboard in Windows 8, or above, computers) and many fonts, most Uzbek websites – including some operated by the Uzbek government – use either U+2018 ‘ LEFT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK or U+0027 ' APOSTROPHE to represent these letters.
The character U+02BC ʼ MODIFIER LETTER APOSTROPHE (tutuq belgisi) is used to mark the phonetic glottal stop when it is put immediately before a vowel in borrowed words, as in sanʼat (art). The modifier letter apostrophe is also used to mark a long vowel when placed immediately after a vowel, as in maʼno (meaning). Since this character is also absent from most keyboard layouts, many Uzbek websites use U+2019 ’ RIGHT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK or U+0027 ' APOSTROPHE instead.
Currently most typists do not bother with the differentiation between the modifier letter turned comma and modifier letter apostrophe as their keyboard layouts likely accommodate only the straight apostrophe.
Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
|Uzbek in Latin script
|Uzbek in Cyrillic script||Uzbek in Arabic script|
|Barcha odamlar erkin, qadr-qimmat va huquqlarda teng boʻlib tugʻiladilar. 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.||برچه آدملر اېرکین، قدر-قیمت و حقوقلرده تېنگ بۉلیب توغیلدیلر. اولر عقل و وجدان صاحبیدیرلر و بیر-بیرلری ایله برادرلرچه معامله قیلیشلری ضرور.|
|Uzbek in Yangalif
|English translation||Uzbek in Yangi imlo|
|Bərcə adəmlər erkin, qədr-qimmət və huquqlərdə teꞑ ʙoliʙ tuƣilədilər. Ulər əql və viçdan sahiʙidirlər və ʙir-ʙirləri ilə ʙiradərlərcə muamələ qilişləri zərur.||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.||بەرچە ئادەملەر ئېركىن، قەدر-قىممەت ۋە ھۇقۇقلەردە تېڭ بولىب تۇغىلەدىلەر. ئۇلەر ئەقل ۋە ۋىجدان ساھىبىدىرلەر ۋە بىر-بىرلەرى ئىلە بىرادەرلەرچە مۇامەلە قىلىشلەرى زەرۇر.|
|Uzbek in International Phonetic Alphabet|
|[bɑrˈtʃɑ ɒd̪ɑmˈlɑr erˈkɪn ǀ qɑd̪r̩ qɨmˈmɑt̪ ʋɑ huquqlɑrˈd̪ɑ t̪eŋ‿bɵˈlɨp t̪uʁɨlɑd̪ɨˈlɑr ǁ uˈlɑr ɑql̩ ʋɑ ʋɪdʒˈd̪ɒn sɒhɨbɨdɨrˈlɑr ǀ ʋɑ bɨr bɨrlɑˈrɨ iˈlɑ bɨrɒdɑrlɑrˈtʃɑ mu.ɒmɑˈlɑ qɨlɨʃlɑˈrɨ zɑˈrur ǁ]|
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