Uzbek, Southern


A language of Afghanistan

Alternate Names
O’zbek, Usbeki, Uzbak, Uzbeki
ﯣزبېک‎ (o’zbek)

2,910,000 in Afghanistan (2011 UNSD), increasing. 1,000,000 monolinguals. Ethnic population: 2,910,000. Total users in all countries: 4,365,700.


Badghis, Baghlan, Balkh, Faryab, Ghor, Jawzjan, Kunduz, Samangan, and Takhar provinces; Aqcha, Maimana, Saripul, and Sheberghan towns.

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Language Status

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


None known. Somewhat intelligible of, but differences in grammar from, Northern Uzbek [uzn]. Many loan words from Dari [prs]. A member of macrolanguage Uzbek [uzb].


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. Used by all. Positive attitudes. Many also use Dari [prs], especially in urban areas. Also use Southern Pashto [pbt]. Used as L2 by Turkmen [tuk].

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 twelfth grade. Taught in secondary schools. Literature. Newspapers. Periodicals. TV. Videos. Dictionary. Grammar. Texts. Bible portions: 2004–2006.


Arabic script, Naskh variant [Arab], used in print. Arabic script, Nastaliq variant [Aran], used in handwriting and for book titles.

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