Uzbek Alphabet
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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. The language traditionally used Arabic script, but the official Uzbek government under the Soviet Union started to use Cyrillic in 1940, which is when widespread literacy campaigns were initiated by the Soviet government across the Union. In Uzbekistan, plans have been to switch to Latin script since 1992, but have been repeatedly delayed (most recently until 2023); both Cyrillic and Latin are common. In the Xinjiang region of China, some Uzbek speakers write using Cyrillic, but most use an Arabic alphabet. Uzbeks of Afghanistan also write the language in Arabic script, and the Uzbek Arabic alphabet is taught in some schools in that 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" ( 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. In 1993, President of Uzbekistan at the time Islam Karimov proposed a new Uzbek alphabet with ?c? /ts/, ?ç?, , ?ñ?, ?ö?, , until it was replaced with current 1995 alphabet. Letter J with bar ?? ?? is also listed here, it is said to be the equivalent for Cyrillic letter Zhje.[2]

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.[3] Most street signs are also in the new Latin script. The main national TV channel of Uzbekistan, O?zbekiston 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 has launched another reform for the Uzbek Latin alphabet. According to the new proposal, some digraphs will be replaced by diacritical signs.[4] 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 January 1, 2023[5] (postponed from April 2021).[6] 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", "o?" and "g?" by the letters "c", "?", "ç", "ó" and "?", respectively.[7] This reverses a 1995 reform, and brings the orthography closer to that of Turkish and also of Turkmen, Karakalpak, Kazakh (2018 version) and Azerbaijani.[8]

In 2021, a draft reform was published, according to which Ch ch, Sh sh, G? g?, O? o? are replaced by Ç ç, ? ?, ? ?, ? ?.[9]

The Uzbek government announced in February 2021 that Uzbekistan plans to fully transition the Uzbek language from the Cyrillic script to a Latin-based alphabet by January 1, 2023.[10]

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 O? G? 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 o? g? sh ch ng

The symbol ?'? does not constitute a separate letter.

Correspondence chart

Below is a table of Uzbek Cyrillic and Latin alphabets with represented sounds.[11][12]

Latin Yañalif (1934-1940) Latin (2021) Cyrillic Name[13] Arabic IPA English approximation
A a ? ? A a ? ? a ? ? /a, æ/ chai, cat
B b B ? B b ? ? be ? /b/ bat
D d D d D d ? ? de ? /d?/ den
E e E e E e ? ? / ? ? e ? ? /e, ?/[N 1] bet
F f F f F f ? ? ef ? fish
G g G g G g ? ? ge ? /?/ go
H h H h H h ? ? ha ? and ? /h/ house
I i I i I i ? ? i ? ? /i, ?/ me
J j Ç ç J j ? ? je ? and ? /d?//?/[N 2] joke, vision
K k K k K k ? ? ka ? /k/ cold
L l L l L l ? ? el ? /l/ list
M m M m M m ? ? em ? /m/ man
N n N n N n ? ? en ? /n/ next
O o A a O o ? ? o ? ,? ? ? ? /o/[N 2] hot, call (Received Pronunciation)
P p P p P p ? ? pe ? /p/ pin
Q q Q q Q q ? ? qa ? , [N 3] like a "k", but further back in the throat
R r R r R r ? ? er ? /r/ (trilled) rat
S s S s S s ? ? es ? /s/ sick
T t T t T t ? ? te ? /t?/ toe
U u U u U u ? ? u ? /u, ?/ pool, choose
V v V v V v ? ? ve ? /v, w/ van
X x X x X x ? ? xa ? "ch" as in German "Bach" or Scottish "loch"
Y y J j Y y ? ? ye ? /j/ yes
Z z Z z Z z ? ? ze ? /z/ zebra
O? o? O o Ó ó ? ? ó ? /o, ?/ poor, fur (American English)
G? g? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?a ? like a French or German "r"
Sh sh ? ? ? ? ? ? sha ? /?/ shoe
Ch ch C c Ç ç ? ? che ? /t?/ chew
Ng ng ? ? Ng ng nge ? /?/ king
Ts ts Ts ts C c ? ? tse /ts/ cats
' ' ' ? tutuq belgisi (') ("apostrophe"); ayirish/ajratish belgisi (?) ? And ? Both "'" (tutuq belgisi) and "?" (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 "? ?" 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 [o'xuv.t?i] "pupil" and haqiqiy [hæxi'xi:] "real". There is no regular sound change law regarding when this process occurs.
  4. ^ Tutuq belgisi (') 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 Is'hoq () "s" and "h" are pronounced separately.

Distinct characters

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

When the Latin letters Ó (Cyrillic ?) and ? (Cyrillic ?) were recently written O? and G?, these were properly typeset with the character ʻ MODIFIER LETTER TURNED COMMA.[14]

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).[15] Since this character is absent from most keyboard layouts, many Uzbek websites use RIGHT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK instead.

Sample of the scripts

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Uzbek in Latin script
Uzbek in Cyrillic script Uzbek in Arabic script
Barcha odamlar erkin, qadr-qimmat va huquqlarda teng bo?lib tug?iladilar. Ular aql va vijdon sohibidirlar va bir-birlari ila birodarlarcha muomala qilishlari zarur. ? , ?- ? ? . ? -? ? .

. ? -? ?. ? - ? ?

Uzbek in Yangalif
Uzbek in Latin script
(1993 proposal)
Uzbek in Yangi imlo
B?rc? ad?ml?r erkin, q?dr-qimm?t v? huquql?rd? te? ?oli? tu?il?dil?r. Ul?r ?ql v? viçdan sahi?idirl?r v? ?ir-?irl?ri il? ?irad?rl?rc? muam?l? qili?l?ri z?rur. Barça odamlar erkin, qadr-qimmat va huquqlarda teñ bölib tu?iladilar. Ular aql va vijdon sohibidirlar va bir-birlari ila birodarlarça muomala qili?lari zarur.

? ? ? . ? ? ? ? ? ?.

Uzbek in Latin script
(2021 proposal)
Uzbek in International Phonetic Alphabet English translation
Barça odamlar erkin, qadr-qimmat va huquqlarda teng b?lib tu?iladilar. Ular aql va vijdon sohibidirlar va bir-birlari ila birodarlarça muomala qili?lari zarur. [bær't?æ ?d?æm'lær er'k?n ? qæd?r? q?m'mæt? ?æ huquqlær'd?æ t?em?b?'l?p t?ulæd'lær ? u'lær æql? ?æ d?'dn s?h?b?d?r'lær ? ?æ b?r b?rlæ'r? i'læ b?r?dærlær't?æ mu.?mæ'læ q?llæ'r? zæ'rur ?] 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.


  1. ^ Fierman, William (1991). Language Planning and National Development: The Uzbek. Walter de Gruyter. p. 75. ISBN 3-11-012454-8.
  2. ^ "Özbek Alifbosi".
  3. ^ "The Governmental Portal of the Republic of Uzbekistan" (in Uzbek). Retrieved 2012.
  4. ^ " ? ? ? " [Final conclusions of the working group on the Uzbek Latin alphabet] (in Uzbek). UzA. 2018-11-06. Retrieved .
  5. ^ "? ? 2023 ? ? ? ? ? ?".
  6. ^ "Uzbekistan: Keeping the Karakalpak Language Alive". 2019-05-17. Retrieved .
  7. ^ "Uzbekistan unveils its latest bash at Latin alphabet". 2019-05-22. Retrieved .
  8. ^ Goble, Paul (2019-05-27). "Uzbekistan Moves to Make Its Latin Script Closer to One Used in Turkey". Window on Eurasia - New Series. Retrieved .
  9. ^ " ? ?". .uz (in Russian). 2021-03-16. Retrieved .
  10. ^ Uzbekistan Aims For Full Transition To Latin-Based Alphabet By 2023, February 12, 2021 12:54 GMT, RadioFreeEurope
  11. ^ ? ? : sh ? ch ? ? ?, ? 2019 May 22.
  12. ^ "Transliteration of Non-Roman Scripts: Uzbek" (PDF). Institute of the Estonian Language. Retrieved 2015.
  13. ^ Ismatullayev, Xayrulla (1991). Teach-Yourself Uzbek Textbook (in Uzbek). Tashkent: O?qituvchi. p. 4. ISBN 5-645-01104-X.
  14. ^ "The Unicode Consortium website". Retrieved 2015.
  15. ^ "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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