Uzbek, Southern


A language of Afghanistan

Alternate Names
Usbeki, Uzbak, Uzbeki

2,910,000 in Afghanistan (2011 UNSD), increasing. 1,000,000 monolinguals. Population total all countries: 2,961,980. Ethnic population: 2,910,000.


Faryab, Saripul, Jawzjan, Balkh, Samangan, Baghlan, Kunduz, Takhar, and Badakhshan provinces, in Maimana, Sheberghan, Aqcha, and Saripul towns. Also in Pakistan, Turkey.

Language Maps
Language Status

3 (Wider communication). Statutory language of provincial identity in Fariab, Jawzjan, Saripul, other northern provinces (2004, Constitution, Article 16(2)).


Somewhat intelligible of, but differences in grammar from, Northern Uzbek [uzn]. Many loan words from Dari [prs].


SOV; postpositions; noun head final; content q-word final; one prefix in words borrowed from Dari [prs], many suffixes (agglutinative); verbal affixation marks of person and number for subject and object; verb tense and aspect marked by suffixes; nontonal; no vowel harmony (unlike some other, closely-related Turkic languages)

Language Use

Vigorous. All domains. All ages. Mostly positive attitudes. City dwellers also use Dari [prs]; village dwellers have limited ability in Dari. A few also use Southern Pashto [pbt].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: 1%. Literacy rate in L2: 20% in Dari [prs]. L1 Literacy in larger towns increasing among younger population. The Afghanistan Ministry of Education has produced Southern Uzbek textbooks for grades 1–3; planned through 12th grade. Taught in secondary schools. Poetry. Magazines. Newspapers. New media. TV. Videos. Dictionary. Bible portions: 2004–2006.
Arabic script.
Other Comments

Muslim (Sunni).

Also spoken in:

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