What Languages Are Spoken In Uzbekistan?

Bakhara, Uzbekistan.
Bakhara, Uzbekistan.

Located in Central Asia, Uzbekistan is a country that shares its borders with Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan. Uzbekistan is one of the world’s two doubly-landlocked countries, the other one being Liechtenstein found in Central Europe. During the ancient times, Uzbekistan belonged to the region of Transoxiana whose predominant language was Persian. Cities such as Samarkand grew rich as a result of the Silk Road. Later in history, the region was conquered by a succession of invaders influencing the diverse culture of the nation. Since Uzbeks constitute 81% of the population the widely spoken language in the country is Uzbek.

The Official Language Of Uzbekistan

The Uzbek language is the official state language of Uzbekistan spoken by approximately 85% of the population. The Uzbek language is a Turkic language closely related to the Uyghur language, and both languages belong to the Karluk languages, a branch of the Turkic language family. Since 1992, the Uzbek language has officially been written in the Latin alphabet. The language is externally influenced by Russian, Arabic, and Persian. The Uzbek language can be considered a later form or the direct descendant of Chagatai which is an extinct Turkic language that was once adopted as a common language in Central Asia. Unlike the other languages belonging to the Turkic language family, Uzbek does not have vowel harmony which is a type of phonological process involving the limitation on which vowels may be used next to each other in a sentence.

Russian: The Second Most Spoken Language Of Uzbekistan

With an estimated 5.4% of the population of Uzbekistan, Russian is the second most spoken language in the country. The Russian language remains an essential language for interethnic communication in the country; more so in cities that experience a lot of day-to-day governmental, technical, business, and scientific use. Over 14% of the Uzbekistan population use Russian as their primary language while many other people use it as a second language. However, the use of the Russian language is limited in the remote rural areas of the country. At present, a large percentage of school-going children have zero proficiency in the Russian language in urban centers as well. However, according to a 2003 report, more than half of the country’s population could not only understand the Russian language but also speak the language. Also, the newly established close political ties between Uzbekistan and Russia means that the official deterrent of the Russian language has been dropped.

Other Languages Spoken In Uzbekistan

The Tajik language is the third most spoken language in Uzbekistan since the Tajiks comprise of 4.0% of the country's population. The language is widely spoken in the cities of Samarkand and Bukhara; this is because both cities both have relatively large populations of the Tajiks. The Tajik language is also spoken in Rishton and Chust in Fergana valley, Ahangaran, Kasan, Baghistan, the river valleys of Chaganian and Kafiringan, Kitab and also in Shahrisabz. About 10-15% of the country's population speaks the Tajik language.

According to Ethnologue, there are 11 languages actively spoken in the country. The other languages are Bukhari, Crimean Tatar, Karakalpak, Kazakh, Korean Turkish, and Arabic. Unfortunately English is not nearly as widely spoken in Uzbekistan as other regions such as Russia or Western Europe. However, more people are starting to learn it especially the country's younger generation. A little bit of English is spoken in big cities and tourist industry. The country has no language requirements for its citizenship.


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