Uyghur language

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Uyghur language

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Uyghur language

(Uyghur tili)

Uyghur (ئۇيغۇرچە‎/Uyƣurqə/Уйғурчә, or ئۇيغۇر تىلى‎/Uyƣur tili/Уйғур тили)[1] is a Turkic language spoken by the Uyghur people in Xinjiang (also called East Turkestan or Uyghurstan), formerly also “Sinkiang” and “Chinese Turkestan,” a Central Asian region administered by China. In English, the name of the ethnicity and its language is spelled variously as Uyghur, Uighur, Uygur and Uigur, with the preferred spelling being Uyghur. Many English speakers pronounce it as "wEEger" (IPA: [ˈwi.ɡɚ]) but the pronunciation "ooygOOr" (IPA: [uj.ˈɡur]) is closer to native [ʔʊɪ'ʁʊː].

The Uyghur language belongs to the Qarluq group of the Turkic language family, which is among the Altaic languages. Uyghur is spoken by 8.5 million (2004) in China, mostly in the far western Xinjiang Autonomous Region. Uyghur is also spoken by 300,000 in Kazakhstan, and there are Uyghur-speaking communities in Afghanistan, Albania, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Turkey, United Kingdom, USA, and Uzbekistan.

The dialects of Uyghur identified by the Ethnologue are Central Uyghur, Hotan (Hetian), and Lop (Luobu). There are two main languages in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region: Uyghur and Mandarin Chinese. Mandarin Chinese is not used widely in southern Xinjiang. About 80 newspapers and magazines are available in Uyghur; five TV channels and ten publishers serve as the Uyghur media. The same as in all China, all of the information and news provided has to be censored by the government.

The modern Uyghur language, which was based on the Taranchi dialect spoken in Russia before the Russian Revolution of 1917, is classified with Uzbek in the southeastern (Uyghur-Chagatai) branch of the Turkic languages. The Turkic language known as Yellow Uighur was closely related to Uyghur but subsequently developed in isolation from it.

The Uyghur literary language was originally written in Arabic script; but a modified Latin alphabet was officially adopted in 1930, and in 1947, a modified Cyrillic alphabet was adopted within the Soviet Union. In China the Arabic script continues to be widely used for writing Uyghur, although a modified Latin alphabet was introduced in 1969. The Arabic script was reintroduced in 1983, and it has since been the official Uyghur writing system. Education in the Uyghur language is coming under pressure from the Chinese government; Xinjiang University, which offered courses taught in both Mandarin and Uyghur, was in 2002 ordered to cease teaching in Uighur.