Uzbek alphabet

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A page from an Uzbek book printed in Arabic script. Tashkent, 1911.

The Uzbek language has been written in various scripts: Arabic, Cyrillic and Latin. In Uzbekistan, it is now written in the Latin script officially; in the Xinjiang region of China, some Uzbek speakers write using Cyrillic, while others apply the Uyghur Arabic script for Uzbek. Uzbeks of Afghanistan also write Uzbek using the Arabic script, the Uzbek Arabic script is being taught at schools in Afghanistan.


Like all Turkic languages in Central Asia, Uzbek was written in various forms of the Arabic script (Yana imla) by the literate population.

Between 1928 and 1940, as part of comprehensive programmes to educate (and 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, the latest deadline was 2005, but was shifted once again to provide a few more years.

Already 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.[2] Most street signs are also in the new Latin script, the main national TV channel of Uzbekistan, Oʻzbekiston telekanali, has also switched to the Latin script when writing in Uzbek, although news programs are still broadcast in Cyrillic script.

Alphabetical order[edit]

The modern Uzbek Latin alphabet has 29 letters:

A a B b D d E e F f G g H h I i
J j K k L l M m N n O o P p Q q
R r S s T t U u V v X x Y y Z z
Oʻ oʻ Gʻ gʻ Sh sh Ch ch Ng ng

The symbol ⟨ʼ⟩ does not constitute a separate letter.

Correspondence chart[edit]

Below is a table of Uzbek Cyrillic and Latin alphabets with represented sounds.[3]

Latin Cyrillic Name[4] Turkish equivalent Arabic IPA English approximation
A a А а a A a / E e ە ئە ە /a, æ/ chai, cat
B b Б б be B b ب /b/ bat
D d Д д de D d د /d̪/ den
E e Э э / Е е e E e ئې ې ئې ې /e/[N 1] sleigh
F f Ф ф ef F f ف /ɸ/ fish
G g Г г ge G g گ /ɡ/ go
H h Ҳ ҳ ha H h ھ and ح /h/ hoe
I i И и i I ı / İ i ئى ى ئى ى /i, ɨ/ me
J j Ж ж je C c / J j ژ and ج /dʒ//ʒ/[N 2] joke, genre
K k К к ka K k ك /k/ cold
L l Л л el L l ل /l/ list
M m М м em M m م /m/ man
N n Н н en N n ن /n/ next
O o О о o O o / Â â ا ئا ,ا ا و ئو و /ɒ//o/[N 2] hot, call (Received Pronunciation)
P p П п pe P p پ /p/ pin
Q q Қ қ qa ق /q/ like a "k", but further back in the throat
R r Р р er R r ر /r/ (trilled) rat
S s С с es S s س /s/ sick
T t Т т te T t ت /t̪/ toe
U u У у u U u / Ü ü ۇ ئۇ /u, ʉ/ put, choose
V v В в ve V v ۋ /v, w/ van
X x Х х xa خ /χ/ "ch" as in German "Bach" or Scottish "loch"
Y y Й й ye Y y ي /j/ yes
Z z З з ze Z z ز /z/ zebra
Oʻ oʻ Ў ў Ö ö و ئو /o, ɵ/ row, fur
Gʻ gʻ Ғ ғ gʻa Ğ ğ غ /ʁ/ like a French "r"
Sh sh Ш ш sha Ş ş ش /ʃ/ shoe
Ch ch Ч ч che Ç ç چ /tʃ/ chew
Ng ng нг nge ڭ /ŋ/ king
ʼ ъ tutuq belgisi (ʼ) ("apostrophe"); ayirish/ajratish belgisi (ъ) ئ And ء /ʔ/ Both "ʼ" (tutuq belgisi) and "ъ" (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 3]
  1. ^ Cyrillic "Е е" at the beginning of a word and after a vowel is "Ye ye" in Latin.
  2. ^ a b In Russian borrowings.
  3. ^ Tutuq belgisi (ʼ) 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 Isʼhoq (Исҳоқ) "s" and "h" are pronounced separately.

Distinct characters[edit]

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

When the Uzbek language is written using the Latin script, the letters (Cyrillic Ў) and (Cyrillic Ғ) are properly rendered using the character U+02BB ʻ MODIFIER LETTER TURNED COMMA.[5] However, since this character is absent from most keyboard layouts and many fonts, most Uzbek websites – including some operated by the Uzbek government[2] – use either U+2018 LEFT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK or straight (typewriter) single quotes to represent these letters.

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),[6] since this character is also absent from most keyboard layouts, many Uzbek websites use U+2019 RIGHT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK instead.

Currently most typists do not bother with the differentiation between the modifier letter turned comma and modifier letter apostrophe as their keyboard layouts likely accommodate only the straight apostrophe.

Sample of the scripts[edit]

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 boʻlib tugʻiladilar. Ular aql va vijdon sohibidirlar va bir-birlari ila birodarlarcha muomala qilishlari zarur. Барча одамлар эркин, қадр-қиммат ва ҳуқуқларда тенг бўлиб туғиладилар. Улар ақл ва виждон соҳибидирлар ва бир-бирлари ила биродарларча муомала қилишлари зарур.

برچه آدم‌لر ایرکن، قدرقمت وحقوق‌لرده تيڭ بولب توغیلدیلر. اولر عقل و وجدان صاحبیدرلر و بربرلری ایله برادرلرچه معامله قلشلری ضرور.

Uzbek in Latin script (Turkish-based) English
Barça odamlar erkin, qadr-qimmat va huquqlarda teng bölib tuğiladilar. Ular aql va vijdon sohibidirlar va bir-birlari ila birodarlarça muomala qilişlari zarur. 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. ^ a b "The Governmental Portal of the Republic of Uzbekistan" (in Uzbek). Retrieved 6 December 2012. 
  3. ^ "Transliteration of Non-Roman Scripts: Uzbek" (PDF). Institute of the Estonian Language. Retrieved 12 November 2015. 
  4. ^ Ismatullayev, Xayrulla (1991). Teach-Yourself Uzbek Textbook (in Uzbek). Tashkent: Oʻqituvchi. p. 4. ISBN 5-645-01104-X. 
  5. ^ "The Unicode Consortium website". Retrieved 13 January 2015. 
  6. ^ "Principal Orthographic Rules For The Uzbek Language", the Uzbekistan Cabinet of Minister's Resolution No. 339. Adopted on August 24, 1995. Tashkent, Uzbekistan.