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Uyghur is a Turkic language spoken in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, administered by China, by the Uyghur people. It is a language with two standard languages[citation needed] and several dialects. However, these are all mutual intelligible at large, in spite of the various differences.[1]



Various classifications of the dialects of Uyghur have been proposed through time. Today, however, it is widely accepted that there are three major dialect groups. This was originally introduced by E. R. Tenishev, but has since been modified by other linguists, like M. Osmanov, though the original classification by E. R. Tenishev remains the most widely accepted.[2]

The classification by E. R. Tenishev can be seen below.[2][3]

Central Dialect of Turpan
Dialect of Kucha
Dialect of Aksu
Dialect of Kashgar
Dialect of Yarkand
Southern Dialect of Hotan
Eastern Dialect of Lopnor

R. F. Hahn divides the Central branch further into a Northern and Southern branch, and includes the dialects of Taranchi, Ili and Hami as Northern Central dialects, and the dialects of Tarim, Dolan, Artux and Mughal as Southern Central dialects, also keeping the dialects proposed by E. R. Tenishev. And he also includes the dialects of Qiemo, Charqaliq and perhaps Kelpin in the Southern branch.[3]

The dialects included in the Central branch by R. F. Hahn are also included by M. Osmanov, although he also chooses to go further and divides the Southern branch into three sub-branches: a sub-branch including the dialect of Guma, a sub-branch including the dialects of Elchi and Karakax, and a sub-branch including the dialects of Cheriya, Keriya, Niya and Qiemo.[4]

A classification where all these modifications are present can be seen below.

Central Northern Dialect of Ürümqi
Dialect of Ili
Dialect of Taranchi
Dialect of Turpan
Dialect of Kumul
Southern Dialect of Kashgar
Dialect of Dolan
Dialect of Artush
Dialect of Tarim
Dialect of Mughal
Dialect of Kucha
Dialect of Yarkant
Dialect of Aksu
Southern Branch #1 Dialect of Guma
Branch #2 Dialect of Echi
Dialect of qaraqash
Branch #3 Dialect of Cheriya
Dialect of Keriya
Dialect of Niya
Dialect of Qiemo
Dialect of Hotan
Eastern Dialect of Lopnor

The dialectal classification of E. R. Tenishev is based on four parameters: the quality of the phoneme /i/, metaphony, consonant assimilation and the conjugation of verbs in the future tense. M. Osmanov on the other hand has based his classification on two different parameters: the conjugation of the present-future tense and the form of the imperfect participle.[2]

The Central dialects are spoken by 90% of the Uyghur-speaking population, while the two other branches of dialects only are spoken by a relatively small minority.[5]

Standard languagesEdit

There are two standard languages of the Uyghur language in use which can be seen below.

  • Standard Xinjiang Uyghur: Used primarily in Xinjiang
  • Standard Soviet Uyghur: Used primarily in Kazakhstan

The first is the standard language used in Xinjiang, and is based upon the Northern Central dialect of Ürümqi, while the second is the standard language used primarily in Kazakhstan, and is based upon the Northern Central dialect of Ili. Notice that although the Soviet Union no longer exists, the label "Soviet" has remained in the name.

The differences between the two standard languages are mostly seen in the orthography, where Standard Xinjiang Uyghur uses an Arabic-derived alphabet, Uyghur Ereb Yéziqi, while Standard Soviet Uyghur uses a Cyrillic-derived alphabet, Uyghur Siril Yéziqi; and in the lexicon where Standard Xinjiang Uyghur is heavily influenced by Chinese, in particular Mandarin Chinese, while Standard Soviet Uyghur is heavily influenced by Russian.[1][3]



  1. ^ a b Hahn 1991, p. 6
  2. ^ a b c Yakup 2005, p. 6
  3. ^ a b c Hahn 1998, pp. 395–396
  4. ^ Yakup 2005, pp. 6–7
  5. ^ Yakup 2005, p. 8


  • Abdurehim, Esmael (2014), The Lopnor dialect of Uyghur - A descriptive analysis (PDF),Publications of the Institute for Asian and African Studies 17,Helsinki: Unigrafia, ISBN 978-951-51-0384-0
  • Hahn, Reinhard F. (1991), Spoken Uyghur, London and Seattle: University of Washington Press, ISBN 978-0-295-98651-7
  • Hahn, Reinhard F. (1998), "Uyghur", in Johanson, Lars; Csató, Éva Ágnes (eds.), The Turkic Languages, Routledge, pp. 379–396, ISBN 978-0-415-08200-6
  • Yakup, Abdurishid (2005), The Turfan Dialect of Uyghur, Turcologica, 63, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 3-447-05233-3