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Uyghur vertical script Uyghur (Уйғурчә / Uyghurche / ئۇيغۇرچە )

Uyghur is a Turkic language with 25 million speakers (in 2016) mainly in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the north west of China, where it is an official language. In Xinjiang Uyghur is used in the media, and as a lingua franca among other peoples. There are also communities of Uyghur speakers in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Uyghur at a glance

  • Native names: ئۇيغۇرچە (Uyghurche) / ئۇيغۇر تىلى (Uyghur tili)
  • Alternative names: Uigur, Uiguir, Uighuir, Uygur, Uighur, Uygur, Uyghur, 维吾尔语 (Wéiwú'ěryǔ)
  • Linguistic affliation: Turkic: Karkuk
  • Number of speakers: 25 million
  • Spoken in: Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan
  • First written: 8th century
  • Writing systems: Arabic, Cyrillic and Latin scripts
  • Status: an official language in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China

Uyghur was originally written with the Orkhon alphabet, a runiform script derived from or inspired by the Sogdian script, which was ultimately derived from the Aramaic script.

Between the 8th and the 16th century, Uyghur was written with an alphabet derived from Sogdian known as Old Uyghur. Unlike Sogdian, which was written from right to left in horizontal lines, the Old Uyghur alphabet was written from left to right in vertical columns, or in other words, it was a version of Sogdian rotated 90° to the left. Uyghur was also written with the Syriac alphabet, mostly in Christian documents.

From the the 16th century until the early 20th century, Uyghur was written with a version of the Arabic alphabet known as 'Chagatai'. During the 20th century a number of versions of the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets were adopted to write Uyghur in different Uyghur-speaking regions. However the Latin alphabet was unpopular and in 1987 the Arabic script was reinstated as the official script for Uyghur in China.

The name of this language is variously spelt Uigur, Uiguir, Uighuir, Uygur, Uighur, Uygur, Uyghur in English, and 维吾尔语 (Wéiwú'ěryǔ) in Mandarin Chinese. Native names of the language are written ئۇيغۇرچە / Уйғурчә / Uyghurche, or ئۇيغۇر تىلى / Уйғур тили / Uyghur tili. Uyghur is the preferred spelling in the Latin alphabet: this was confirmed at a conference of the Ethnic Languages and Script Committe of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region held in October 2006.

Old Uyghur alphabet

Most of the Old Uyghur letters have different shapes depending on their position in a word. The initial shapes are used at the beginning of words, the medial shapes in the middle, and the final shapes at the ends of words.

Old Uyghur alphabet

Arabic alphabet for Uyghur (Uyghur Ereb Yëziqi / UEY / ئۇيغۇر ئەرەب يېزىقى‎)

The Perso-Arabic alphabet was introduced to the Uyghur people, along with Islam, in the 10th century. The version of the alphabet used to write Chagatai, now known as the Chagatay alphabet, became the literary language of the region, and was used until the 1920s. Alternative ways of writing Uyghur were devised from then. One of these, the Uyghur Ereb Yëziqi (ULY), is used mainly by Uyghurs in China and is an expansion of the Chagatay alphabet.

Arabic alphabet for Uyghur

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uyghur_Ereb_Yëziqi

Cyrillic alphabet for Uyghur (Уйғур Сирил Йезиқи / Uyghur Siril Yëziqi / USY)

The Cyrillic alphabet for Uyghur was introduced in the Soviet Union in 1937 as a replacement for the Latin-based alphabet for Uyghur that was devised in 1926. It was one way to weaken the ties between the Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples, particularly with Turkey, where the Latin alphabet was introduced in 1927.

This alphabet is still used by Uyghurs in the Russian Federation, and in former Soviet Republics such as Kazakhstan.

Cyrillic alphabet for Uyghur


Latin alphabets for Uyghur (uyghur élipbesi)

Uyghur New Script

This version of the Latin alphabet, known as Uyghur Yëngi Yëziqi or Uyƣur Yəngi Yəziⱪ (UYY), was used to write Uyghur between 1965 and 1982, mainly in China.

Uyghur Yëngi Yëziqi / Uyƣur Yəngi Yəziⱪ (UYY)

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uyghur_New_Script

Uyghur Latin Yéziq

The Uyghur Latin Yéziq (ULY) which was finalised in July 2001 after five conferences held at Xinjiang University in Ürümqi. It was further amended in 2008. It is an auxiliary alphabet for the Uyghur language.

Uyghur Latin Yéziq (ULY) - introduced in 2001 as a unified Latin script for Uyghur

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uyghur_Latin_alphabet

Sample texts in Uyghur

Arabic alphabet (UEY)

Sample text in Uyghur (Arabic alphabet)

Cyrillic alphabet (USY)

Һемме адем занидинла еркин, иззет-һөрмет ве һоқуқта бапбаравер болуп туғулған. Улар еқилге ве вийдан'ға иге һемде бир-бириге қэриндашлиқ мунасивитиге хас роһ билен билен муамил қилиши кэрек.

Latin alphabet (UYY)

H̡əmmə adəm zatidinla ərkin, izzət-h̡ɵrmət wə hok̡uk̡ta babbarawər bolup tuƣulƣan. Ular ək̡ilƣə wə wijdanƣa igə h̡əmdə bir-birigə k̡erindaxlik̡ munasiwitigə hax roh bilən mu’amilə k̡ilixi kerək.

Latin alphabet (ULY)

Hemme adem zatidinla erkin, izzet-hörmet we hoquqta babbarawer bolup tughulghan. Ular eqilghe we wijdan'gha ige hemde bir-birige qérindashliq munasiwitige xas roh bilen muamile qilishi kérek.

Hear a recording of this text by Adiljan Barat


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)

Sample video in Uyghur

Information about Uyghur | Numbers | Tower of Babel | Learning materials

Durustal - an alternative alphabet for Uyghur


Information about the Uyghur language and alphabets

Online Uyghur lessons

Online Uyghur phrases

Online Uyghur dictionaries

Free Uyghur fonts

Uyghur Arabic-Cyrillic-Latin converter

Online Uyghur news and radio

London Uyghur Ensemble

Turkic languages

Other languages written with the: Arabic, Cyrillic and Latin alphabets


Other writing systems

If you need to type in many different languages, the Q International Keyboard can help. It enables you to type almost any language that uses the Latin, Cyrillic or Greek alphabets, and is free.

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