Uzbek, Northern


A language of Uzbekistan

Alternate Names
oʻzbek, oʻzbekcha, Özbek
oʻzbek tili, ўзбек тили‎ (oʻzbek tili)

22,200,000 in Uzbekistan (2015 World Factbook). Ethnic population: 22,900,000 (2014 World Factbook). Total users in all countries: 25,164,820.



Language Status

1 (National). Statutory national language (1995, Official Language Law (amended), 3561-XI, Article 1).


Karluk (Qarlug), Kipchak (Kypchak), Oghuz. Distinct from Southern Uzbek [uzs] of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkey. Russian [rus] influences in grammar, use of loanwords, and script. Oghuz may be a dialect of Khorasani Turkish [kmz] in Turkey rather than Uzbek. A member of macrolanguage Uzbek [uzb].


SOV; postpositions; noun head final; no articles; case-marking (5 cases); verb affixes mark person, number; passives; tense; comparatives; 24 consonant and 8 vowel phonemes; non-tonal; stress on final syllable; has lost its historical vowel harmony and its vowel system now resembles that of Tajiki.

Language Use

Vigorous. Turks of Fergana and Samarkand speak Uzbek. Uzbek-speaking Roma communities in Russian central Asia. Used by all. Positive attitudes. Also use Russian [rus].

Language Development

Literacy rate in L2: High. Taught in primary and secondary schools. Radio. TV. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible: 2016.


Arabic script, Naskh variant [Arab], symbolic use in Uzbekistan, sometimes used in China. Braille script [Brai]. Cyrillic script [Cyrl], official usage between 1940-1992 in Uzbekistan, continued widespread use in Uzbekistan and China. Latin script [Latn], official usage since 1992 in Uzbekistan.

Other Comments

About a third urbanized. Much Persian influence in language and culture. Patrilineal. Sart is a pejorative name which had been used by the occupying Russians and by the Kazakhs (Allworth 1990). Muslim.

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