A language of China

Alternate Names
Uighuir, Uighur, Uiguir, Uigur, Uygur, Weiwu’er, Wiga

8,400,000 in China (2000 census). 4,700,000 Central Uyghur, 1,150,000 Hotan, 25,000 Lop. Population total all countries: 8,791,610. Most are monolingual.


Mainly in Xinjiang Province, Uyghur Autonomous Region. Small areas in Gansu and Xizang provinces.

Language Maps
Language Status

2 (Provincial). Statutory provincial language in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (1984, Ethnic Regional Autonomy Act, Articles 10 and 21). Language of recognized nationality: Uygur.


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), and Dolan, Akto Türkmen. There are significant dialect differences between China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan.


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.

Language Use

Widely used in print media in Kashgar. Vigorous. All domains. All ages. Positive attitudes. Young people and intellectuals also use Chinese [cmn]. Also use English [eng], Russian [rus]. Used as L2 by Ainu [aib], Ili Turki [ili], Kyrgyz [kir], Northern Uzbek [uzn], Peripheral Mongolian [mvf], Russian [rus], Salar [slr], Sarikoli [srh], Tatar [tat], Xibe [sjo].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L2: 91% in any language (2000 census, Uyghur nationality). Literacy based on Central Uyghur as spoken in the area between Yili (Ili) and Urumqi, and includes literates in Uyghur or Chinese or both. Newspapers. Radio programs. TV. Grammar. Bible: 1950.

Arabic script [Arab], official and primary usage in China, also used in Afghanistan. Cyrillic script [Cyrl], used in Kazakhstan, past usage in China. Latin script [Latn], used in China and Turkey.

Other Comments

Some speakers classified within other official nationalities, such as Kyrghyz. Those in the north are more influenced by modern Chinese culture. Muslim (Sunni).

Also spoken in:

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