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Uyghur Language

Uyghur (Уйғур / ئۇيغۇر)

Uyghur is a Turkic language with about 10 million speakers mainly in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China, and also in Afghanistan, Australia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Turkey, the USA and Uzbekistan.

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 fromSogdian 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 theSyriac 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 or in Chinese, 维吾尔语 (Wéiwú’ěryǔ). 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 (ئۇيغۇر ئېلىپبەسى)

Arabic alphabet for Uyghur

Cyrillic alphabet for Uyghur (уйғур елипбәси)

Cyrillic alphabet for Uyghur

Latin alphabets for Uyghur (uyghur élipbesi)

There is no standard or official Latin alphabet for Uyghur: this version, known as Yengi Yezik orYeŋi Yeziq (New Writing) was used between 1969 and 1987.

Yengi Yezik / Yeŋi Yeziq - Latin alphabet for Uyghur from 1969-1987

This is the Uyghur Latin Yéziq (ULY), which was introduced between November 2000 and July 2001 at five conferences were held at Xinjiang University in Urumchi. It is intended to be a unified Latin script for Uyghur.

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


Sample texts in Uyghur

Arabic alphabet (Uyghur Ereb Yéziqi)

Sample text in Uyghur (Arabic alphabet)

Cyrillic alphabet (Uyghur Siril Yéziqi)

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 (Uyghur Yengi Yezik)

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 (Uyghur Latin Yéziq)

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.


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 text in Uyghur (Arabic alphabet)

Sample text in Uyghur (Arabic alphabet)


Hey, péqir uyghur, oyghan, uyqung yéter,
Sende mal yoq, emdi ketse jan kéter.
Bu ölümdin özengni qutqazmisang,
Ah, séning haling xeter, haling xeter.


Hey, poor Uyghur, wake up, you have slept long enough,
You have nothing, what is now at stake is your very life.
If you don’t rescue yourself from this death,
Ah, your end will be looming, your end will be looming.
Part of ئويغان! / Oyghan! (Wake up), a poem by Abduxaliq Uyghur

The complete poem with English and French translations can be found at:

Longer sample text (Tower of Babel)

books   Uyghur language learning materials

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