Ethnologue: Languages of the World
16th edition

Ethnologue: Languages of the World
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Ethnologue > Web version > Country index > Asia > China > Uyghur


A language of China

ISO 639-3uig

Population  8,400,000 in China (2000 census). Most are monolingual. 4,700,000 Central Uyghur, 1,150,000 Hotan, 25,000 Lop. Population total all countries: 8,788,690.
Region  Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Also in Afghanistan, Australia, Germany, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Turkey (Asia), United States, Uzbekistan.
Language map  China
Alternate names   Uighuir, Uighur, Uiguir, Uigur, Uygur, Weiwuer, Wiga
Dialects  Central Uyghur, Hotan (Hetian), Lop (Luobu). The Akto Türkmen speak a dialect of Uyghur with 500 different seldom-used words. There are 2,000 in 2 villages, Kösarap and Oytak in Akto County, south of Kashgar, Xinjiang. Dolan is a dialect spoken around the fringes of the Taklimakan Desert in Xinjiang. Chinese linguists recognize 3 dialects. Others have used the following dialect names: Kashgar-Yarkand (Kashi-Shache), Yengi Hissar (Yengisar), Khotan-Kerya (Hotan-Yutian), Charchan (Qarqan, Qiemo), Aksu (Aqsu), Qarashahr (Karaxahar), Kucha (Kuqa), Turfan (Turpan), Kumul (Hami), Ili (Kulja, Yining, Taranchi), Urumqi (Urumchi), Lopnor (Lopnur), Dolan, Akto Türkmen. There are significant dialect differences between China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan.
Classification  Altaic, Turkic, Eastern
Language use  Official regional language. Widely used in print media in Kashgar. Vigorous. All domains. All ages. Positive attitude. Young people and intellectuals also use Chinese [cmn]; a few also use English or Russian.
Language development  Literacy rate in L2: 91%. Literacy based on Central Uyghur as spoken in the area between Yili (Ili) and Urumqi. Newspapers. Radio programs. TV. Grammar. Bible: 1950.
Writing system  Arabic script, used in Afghanistan. Cyrillic script, used in Kazakhstan. Latin script, used in Turkey.
Comments  Most classified as Uyghur nationality; other official nationalities, such as Kyrghyz, also speak Uyghur. Those in the north are more influenced by modern Chinese culture. SOV; postpositions; genitives, adjectives, numerals, relatives before noun heads; question words initial; a few prefixes; 3 suffixes on nouns; 6 suffixes on verbs; word order distinguishes subjects and indirect objects, topic and comment; 8 noun cases shown by suffixes; verb suffixes mark subject person, number, 2nd person marks plural and 3 levels of respect; passive, reflexive, reciprocal and causative; comparatives; CV, CVC, CVCC syllables; nontonal. Agriculturalists: grain, fruit, grapes, vegetables, cotton; traders; craftsmen; animal husbandry. Muslim (Sunni).

Also spoken in:


Language name   Uyghur
Population  3,000 in Afghanistan.
Region  Badakshan and Abi-i-Barik, a few villages. Possibly in Iran and Taiwan.
Alternate names  Uighor, Uighur, Uiguir, Uyghuri, Wighor
Dialects  Kashgar-Yarkand (Yarkandi), Taranchi.
Language development  Literacy rate in L1: Below 1%. Literacy rate in L2: 5%–15%.
Comments  Muslim (Sunni).


Language name   Uyghur
Population  300,000 in Kazakhstan (1993).
Region  Taranchi dialect in Kazakhstan; Kashgar-Yarkand in Uzbekistan.
Language map  Kazakhstan
Alternate names  Novouygur, Uighur, Uiguir, Uygur
Dialects  Taranchi (Kulja), Kashgar-Yarkand.
Language use  86% speak it as L1.
Comments  Agriculturalists. Muslim (Sunni).


Language name   Uyghur
Population  1,000 in Mongolia (1982).
Region  North Mongolia, Hövsgöl Aimag.
Alternate names  Uighuir, Uighur, Uiguir, Uigur, Uygur
Language development  Literacy is in Halh [khk] in Mongolia; the Uyghur are generally assimilated to Halh culture.
Comments  Muslim (Sunni).

Turkey (Asia)

Language name   Uyghur
Population  500 in Turkey (1981).
Region  Kayseri, Istanbul. Possibly in Iran.
Alternate names  Uighur, Uigur, Uygur
Comments  Muslim (Sunni).