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Language Information


Uigur is spoken principally in China and to a lesser extent in the Soviet Union. In China the Uigurs number some 7 million, most of whom live in a vast area of western China called the Sinkiang Uigur Autonomous Region (capital: Urumchi). In the Soviet Union Uigur speakers number only 180,000, living mainly in the Kazakh and Kirgiz republics, near the Chinese border.

Uigur is a Turkic language and thus of the Altaic family. The Uigurs are an ancient people whose history can be traced back to the early centuries of the Christian era. About the middle of the 8th century they established a large and powerful state in eastern Turkestan. When this was overrun a hundred years later, they established a new kingdom in western China that survived until the rise of the Mongol Empire.

The ancient Uigurs developed a script of their own, which was written vertically from left to right. Though not completely original (having been adapted from an earlier script called Sogdian), it had considerable influence upon writing in Asia even after the dissolution of the Uigur kingdom. In the 13th century the Mongols adopted the Uigur script for writing their own language, and in turn passed it on to the Manchus, who were to rule China for over 250 years.

Meanwhile the Uigurs had long since adopted Islam, and with it the Arabic script, but a new Roman-based alphabet introduced in the 1960s is gradually taking hold. In 1947 the Soviet government introduced the Cyrillic alphabet (with 8 additional letters) for use in Uigur.


Uigur is spoken/used in the following countries:
China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan.

Language Family
Family: Altaic
Subgroup: Tukic
Branch: Southestern(Chagatai)


Copyright © Kenneth Katzner, The Languages of the World, Published by Routledge.


Writing Sample


Writing Sample

Translation


It is evening. I am walking along the streets of Urumchi. On the other side of the street, not taking his eyes off me, stands a man. Concerned about my appearance, I straighten my clothes and adjust my hat. Apparently I even blushed. Suddenly I felt hot. "I wonder why that man is watching me." The stranger comes closer and closer without ever taking his eyes off me. The closer he comes, the broader the smile on his face. Finally he walks right up to me and, extending his hand, says, "It seems you do not recognize me, correct?"