Uighur Script

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Uighur Script


a phonetic writing system developed by the Uighurs at the end of the first millennium. Uighur script has been traced back through the Sogdian alphabet to one of the Syriac-Aramaic alphabets. The letters were written from top to bottom, as though strung on a vertical line, and the lines were arranged from left to right. The configuration of each of the 22 letters depended on the letter’s word position: initial, medial, or final.

In the 11th and 12th centuries the Uighurs began using the Arabic alphabet, which gradually replaced Uighur script. The latter continued in use until the early 18th century, and the ethnic group of the Yellow Uighurs continued to use it into the 19th century. In the 13th century Uighur script was borrowed by the Mongols, who adapted it to the phonetics of Mongolian. This writing system is still used today in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region. The Manchus, in turn, borrowed Uighur script from the Mongols and used it until the 18th century.


Malov, S. E. Pamiatniki drevnetiurkskoi pis’mennosti. Moscow-Leningrad, 1951.
Shcherbak, A. M. Grammaticheskii ocherk iazyka tiurkskikh tekstov X-XIII vv. iz. Vostochnogo Turkestana. Moscow-Leningrad, 1961.
Diringer, D. Alfavit. Moscow, 1963. (Translated from English.)
Gabain, A. von. Das uigurische Königreich von Chotscho, 850–1250. Berlin, 1961.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Mongols erroneously had supposed that their military superiority in the world of that day, will cause the cultural superiority, Therefore, using from Uighur script to register the names' Ilkhanids was the first step in this way.
The earliest and most complete SH text that has come down to us offers special problems, many stemming from the fact that it was written not in the vertical Uighur script which the Mongols began to use in the first quarter of the thirteenth century, but in an elaborate phonological transcription in Chinese characters produced more than a century and a half after the text's initial composition.
Now Mongols have begun once again to learn the traditional Uighur script used since the era of Genghis Khan for the Mongol language, based on the semitic alphabet written from right to left (brought by the Nestorian Christians from what is now southeastern Turkey).
zero, and to zero in (most of?) the dialects; but along the way toward its eventual disappearance it fell together structurally with certain cases of another [[Chi]] allophone that originated in a pronunciation-shift of the back velar /q/; and these then also eventually ended up as zero by analogical sound-change.(17) Finally, and most importantly, he stressed that in interpreting the data of early written records relevant to these problems, the fact that the Uighur script made no provision for writing either the phone [[Chi]] or the phoneme /h-/ was of singular importance - except of course when later the pronunciation of WMo.
Thus far the form had behaved as a perfectly good Mongolian word; but loanwords often eventually show their true colors, as did this one, which survived, e.g., in the Kowalewski lemma as orthographic qab in Uighur script, but pronounced of course [[Chi]aB].
Csongor, "Chinese in the Uighur Script of the T'ang-Period," AOH 2 (1952): 73-119, esp.
42 (Wiesbaden, 1955), 169; Maspero, "Le dialecte...," 39, 44; Csongor, "Chinese in the Uighur Script...," 80, 84, 92, 108 n.