Uzbek alphabet

A page from an Uzbek book printed in Arabic script. Tashkent, 1911.

The Uzbek language has been written in various scripts: Latin, Cyrillic and Arabic. In Uzbekistan, it is officially written in the Latin script, though most people still write in Cyrillic. In the Xinjiang region of China, some Uzbek speakers write using Cyrillic, while others apply the Uyghur Arabic script for Uzbek. Uzbeks of Afghanistan also write the language using the Arabic script and the Uzbek Arabic script is currently taught at some schools in the country.


Like all Turkic languages in Central Asia, Uzbek was written in various forms of the Arabic script such as Yana imla by the literate population. Between 1928 and 1940, as part of comprehensive programmes to educate (and politically influence) Uzbek people, who for the first time now had their own cartographically delineated (administrative) region, Uzbek writing was switched to Latin script (Yanalif; a proposal for the latinization of Yana imla was already developed in 1924). The Latinization of Uzbek was carried out in the context of Latinization of all Turkic languages.[1]

In 1940, Uzbek was switched to the Cyrillic script under Joseph Stalin. Until 1992, Uzbek continued to be written using a Cyrillic alphabet almost everywhere, but now in Uzbekistan the Latin script has been officially re-introduced, although the use of Cyrillic is still widespread. The deadline in Uzbekistan for making this transition has been repeatedly changed.

Education in many areas of Uzbekistan is in the Latin script, and in 2001 the Latin script began to be used for coins. Since 2004, some official websites have switched over to using the Latin script when writing in Uzbek.[2] Most street signs are also in the new Latin script. The main national TV channel of Uzbekistan, Oʻzbekiston telekanali, has also switched to the Latin script when writing in Uzbek, although news programs are still broadcast in Cyrillic script. Additionally, Uzbek continues to be written in the Arabic script in Afghanistan.

In 2018, the Uzbek government launched yet another reform for the Uzbek Latin alphabet. According to the new proposal, some digraphs shall be replaced by diacritical signs.[3] This was met with mixed reactions from the citizens who preferred "writing in Cyrillic alphabet instead"; the deadline for the official Latin script reform is 2021.[4] On May 22, 2019, an updated version of the Uzbek Latin alphabet was revealed, with five letters being updated; it was proposed to represent the sounds "ts", "sh", "ch", "oʻ" and "gʻ" by the letters "c", "ş", "ç", "ó" and "ǵ", respectively.[5] This reverses a 1995 reform, and brings the orthography closer to that of Turkish and also of Turkmen, Karakalpak, Kazakh and Azerbaijani.[6]

Alphabetical order

The modern Uzbek Latin alphabet has 29 letters:

Uzbek alphabet
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Majuscule forms (also called uppercase or capital letters)
A B D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V X Y Z Sh Ch Ng
Minuscule forms (also called lowercase or small letters)
a b d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v x y z sh ch ng

The symbol ⟨ʼ⟩ does not constitute a separate letter.

Correspondence chart

Below is a table of Uzbek Cyrillic and Latin alphabets with represented sounds.[7]

Latin Cyrillic Name[8] Arabic IPA English approximation
A a А а a ه ئه ه /a, æ/ chai, cat
B b Б б be ب /b/ bat
D d Д д de د /d̪/ den
E e Э э / Е е e ئې ې ئې ې /e/[N 1] bet
F f Ф ф ef ف /ɸ/ fish
G g Г г ge گ /ɡ/ go
H h Ҳ ҳ ha ھ and ح /h/ house
I i И и i ئى ى ئى ى /i, ɨ/ me
J j Ж ж je ژ and ج /dʒ//ʒ/[N 2] joke, vision
K k К к ka ك /k/ cold
L l Л л el ل /l/ list
M m М м em م /m/ man
N n Н н en ن /n/ next
O o О о o ا ئا ,ا ا و ئو و /ɒ//o/[N 2] hot, call (Received Pronunciation)
P p П п pe پ /p/ pin
Q q Қ қ qa ق /q/, /x/[N 3] like a "k", but further back in the throat
R r Р р er ر /r/ (trilled) rat
S s С с es س /s/ sick
T t Т т te ت /t̪/ toe
U u У у u ۇ ئۇ /u, ʉ/ put, choose
V v В в ve ۋ /v, w/ van
X x Х х xa خ /x/ "ch" as in German "Bach" or Scottish "loch"
Y y Й й ye ي /j/ yes
Z z З з ze ز /z/ zebra
Oʻ oʻ Ў ў و ئو /o, ɵ/ row, fur
Gʻ gʻ Ғ ғ gʻa غ /ʁ/ like a French or German "r"
Sh sh Ш ш sha ش /ʃ/ shoe
Ch ch Ч ч che چ /tʃ/ chew
ng нг nge ڭ نگ /ŋ/ king
ʼ ъ tutuq belgisi (ʼ) ("apostrophe"); ayirish/ajratish belgisi (ъ) ئ And ء /ʔ/ Both "ʼ" (tutuq belgisi) and "ъ" (ayirish belgisi) are used either (1) to mark the phonetic glottal stop when put immediately before a vowel or (2) to mark a long vowel when placed immediately after a vowel [N 4]
  1. ^ Cyrillic "Е е" at the beginning of a word and after a vowel is "Ye ye" in Latin.
  2. ^ a b In Russian borrowings.
  3. ^ In some words written with the letter "q", the sound has now changed to /x/, such as o‘quvchi [oˈxuv.tʃi] "pupil" and haqiqiy [hæxiˈxiː] "real". There is no regular sound change law regarding when this process occurs.
  4. ^ Tutuq belgisi (ʼ) is also used to indicate that the letters "s" and "h" should be pronounced separately, not as the digraph "sh" in Latin. For example, in the name Isʼhoq (Исҳоқ) "s" and "h" are pronounced separately.

Distinct characters

A Nowruz sign in front of the State Art Museum of Uzbekistan written using an ʻokina-like symbol

When the Uzbek language is written using the Latin script, the letters (Cyrillic Ў) and (Cyrillic Ғ) are properly rendered using the character U+02BB ʻ MODIFIER LETTER TURNED COMMA[9], which is also known as the ʻokina. However, since this character is absent from most keyboard layouts (except for the Hawaiian keyboard in Windows 8, or above, computers) and many fonts, most Uzbek websites – including some operated by the Uzbek government[2] – use either U+2018 LEFT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK or straight (typewriter) single quotes to represent these letters.

The modifier letter apostrophe (ʼ) (tutuq belgisi) is used to mark the phonetic glottal stop when it is put immediately before a vowel in borrowed words, as in sanʼat (art). The modifier letter apostrophe is also used to mark a long vowel when placed immediately after a vowel, as in maʼno (meaning).[10] Since this character is also absent from most keyboard layouts, many Uzbek websites use U+2019 RIGHT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK instead.

Currently most typists do not bother with the differentiation between the modifier letter turned comma and modifier letter apostrophe as their keyboard layouts likely accommodate only the straight apostrophe.

Sample of the scripts

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Uzbek in Latin script (official) Uzbek in Cyrillic script Uzbek in Arabic script
Barcha odamlar erkin, qadr-qimmat va huquqlarda teng boʻlib tugʻiladilar. Ular aql va vijdon sohibidirlar va bir-birlari ila birodarlarcha muomala qilishlari zarur. Барча одамлар эркин, қадр-қиммат ва ҳуқуқларда тенг бўлиб туғиладилар. Улар ақл ва виждон соҳибидирлар ва бир-бирлари ила биродарларча муомала қилишлари зарур.

.به‌رچه آده‌مله‌ر ئېرکىن، قه‌در-قىممه‌ت ۋه هۇقۇقله‌رده تېڭ بولىب تۇغىله‌دىله‌ر. ئۇله‌ر ئه‌قل ۋه وىجدان ساهىبىدىرله‌ر ۋه بىر-بىرله‌ری ئىله بىراده‌رله‌رچه مۇئامه‌له قىلىشله‌ری زه‌رۇر

Uzbek in Latin script (Yañalif, 1934–1940) English Uzbek in Arabic script (Yaña imlâ, pre-1928)
Bərcə adəmlər erkin, qədr-qimmət və huquqlərdə teꞑ ʙoliʙ tuƣilədilər. Ulər əql və viçdan sahiʙidirlər və ʙir-ʙirləri ilə ʙiradərlərcə muamələ qilişləri zərur. 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.

برچه آدم‌لر ایرکن، قدرقمت وحقوق‌لرده تيڭ بولب توغیلدیلر. اولر عقل و وجدان صاحبیدرلر و بربرلری ایله برادرلرچه معامله قلشلری ضرور.

Uzbek in Latin script (2019 proposal) IPA transcription[verify]
Barça odamlar erkin, qadr-qimmat va huquqlarda teng bólib tuǵiladilar. Ular aql va vijdon sohibidirlar va bir-birlari ila birodarlarça muomala qilişlari zarur. bart͡ʃa ɒd̪amlar erkɪn, qad̪r-qɨmmat̪ va huquqlard̪a t̪eŋ bɵlɨp t̪uʁɨlad̪ɨlar. ular aql va vɪd͡ʒd̪ɒn sɒhɨbɨdɨrlar va bɨr-bɨrlarɨ ila bɨrɒdarlart͡ʃa muɒmala qɨlɨʃlarɨ zarur.


  1. ^ Fierman, William (1991). Language Planning and National Development: The Uzbek. Walter de Gruyter. p. 75. ISBN 3-11-012454-8.
  2. ^ a b "The Governmental Portal of the Republic of Uzbekistan" (in Uzbek). Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  3. ^ "Лотин ёзувига асосланган ўзбек алифбоси ҳақида ишчи гуруҳнинг сўнгги хулосаси" [Final conclusions of the working group on the Uzbek Latin alphabet] (in Uzbek). UzA. 2018-11-06. Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  4. ^ "Uzbekistan: Keeping the Karakalpak Language Alive". 2019-05-17. Retrieved 2019-05-20.
  5. ^ "Uzbekistan unveils its latest bash at Latin alphabet". 2019-05-22. Retrieved 2019-05-23.
  6. ^ Goble, Paul (2019-05-27). "Uzbekistan Moves to Make Its Latin Script Closer to One Used in Turkey". Window on Eurasia – New Series. Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  7. ^ "Transliteration of Non-Roman Scripts: Uzbek" (PDF). Institute of the Estonian Language. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  8. ^ Ismatullayev, Xayrulla (1991). Teach-Yourself Uzbek Textbook (in Uzbek). Tashkent: Oʻqituvchi. p. 4. ISBN 5-645-01104-X.
  9. ^ "The Unicode Consortium website". Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  10. ^ "Principal Orthographic Rules For The Uzbek Language", the Uzbekistan Cabinet of Minister's Resolution No. 339. Adopted on August 24, 1995. Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

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