The Uzbeks of Uzbekistan

Uzbek speakers can mainly be found in Uzbekistan. Uzbek is a Turkic language with about 16.5 million speakers. It was declared the official language of Uzbekistan in October 1989, where 15 million people speak it as a first language. Speakers can also be found in the USA, Afghanistan, Russia, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, China, Germany, Turkey, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Turkmenistan and Australia. Uzbek dialects have been divided into 2 main groups, based on their phonetic features. The ‘O’ group consists of dialects that are spoken in Samarkand, Tashkent and Bukhara cities and the surrounding areas. The ‘A’ group is further sub-divided into 2 groups, based on how the initial consonants are used. This classification method was developed by A.K. Borovkov, a Russian scientist.

The literary Uzbek language that is currently used is based on the ‘O’ group. The Arabic script was used to write Uzbek until 1927. From 1927 until 1940, the Latin alphabet was used. The Cyrillic alphabet was then adopted until the mid 1990s, when the Latin alphabet was re-introduced as the official alphabet. The Cyrillic script is still in use in some countries outside Uzbekistan, such as Tajikistan. Popular magazines and newspapers are published using the Uzbek language. TV and radio stations also use Uzbek in their broadcasts. Uzbek is also taught from primary schools through to Universities. The Uzbek vocabulary has words from Persian, Russian and Arabic. Most of the Arabic loan words were introduced through Persian.

Uzbek descended from the Turkic language Chagatai. Chagatai is an extinct language that was once spoken in Central Asia. There was a Chagatai Khanate, in the western part of the Mongol empire, which was ruled by Chagatai Khan. During the 14th century, the Chagatai Khanate was conquered by Timur. The Uzbeks managed to outs Timur’s successors from power in the later centuries. At this time, the Kazakh’s became dissidents of the Uzbek’s and formed a separate group. Both the Kazakhs and the Uzbeks became part of the Soviet Republic in 1917. After the fall of the Soviet, the 2 became independent countries and were known as Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

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