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the language of the Uzbeks, spoken in the Uzbek and Kazakh SSR’s and the Middle Asian republics. Outside the USSR, Uzbek is spoken in eastern Turkestan and northern Afghanistan. In the USSR, Uzbek is spoken by more than 9 million people (1970 census).

Uzbek belongs to the southeastern (Middle Asian) group of Turkic languages. The dialects of the modern spoken language have been influenced by such diverse dialect groups as Karluk, Kipchak, and Oghuz. Uzbek dialects are conventionally divided according to phonetic features into two groups: the “o” group, which includes the dialects of such cities as Tashkent, Samarkand, and Bukhara and the surrounding regions, and the “a” group, which is divided into two subgroups according to the use of the initial consonants j or . The classification was developed by the Soviet scholar A. K. Borovkov.

The modern Uzbek literary language is based on the Tashkent-Fergana “o” dialect group. An Old Uzbek literary language had emerged by the 13th century (by the 15th or 16th century, according to some scholars); opinion is divided on its definition and designation. Uzbek phonology is marked by the absence of long vowels in word initial position. Secondary lengthening results from the loss of consonant sounds assimilated into vowels. Certain vowels may be lengthened for emphasis. The main dialects lack synharmonic vowel alternation and the division of affixes into front and back. Uzbek grammatical structure, in common with all Turkic languages, is agglutinative.

Uzbek was written in Arabic script until 1927 and in the Latin alphabet from 1927 to 1940, when the current modified Cyrillic alphabet was introduced.


Kononov, A. N. Grammatika sovremennogo uzbekskogo literaturnogo iazyka. Moscow-Leningrad, 1960. (Contains bibliography.)
Shaàbduràkhmanav, Sh. Sh. Ozbek àdàbiy tili va ozbek khâlq shevàlâri. Tashkent, 1962.
Reshetov, V. V. “Uzbekskii iazyk.” In lazyki narodov SSSR, vol. 2. Moscow, 1966. (Contains bibliography.)
Russko-uzbekskii slovar’, vols. 1-5. Tashkent, 1950-56.
Uzbeksko-russkii slovar’. Moscow, 1959.
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