Uzbek Language Program

A South Eastern Turkic language, Uzbek is available at Elementary, Intermediate, and Advanced levels at the University of Chicago, since the year 2000. Students in Elementary Uzbek can expect to learn Modern Standard Uzbek in both the Cyrillic and the Latin Script versions, and become conversant within the year. The class teaches conversational skills, basic grammar, and situational vocabulary, while also gradually introducing excerpts from Uzbek literature & film. Uzbek is the second most-widely spoken Turkic language after Turkish, with close to 30 million speakers. It is the official language of the Republic of Uzbekistan, and is also spoken by minority populations in the neighboring Kazakh and Kirghiz republics, and by 3 million people in northern Afghanistan. It is mutually intelligible with the very closely related Uyghur language, spoken in the neighboring Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region of the China.  Knowledge of Uzbek also allows quick access to other Turkic languages such as Kazakh, Kirghiz, or Tatar. It is currently written in the Latin alphabet, though most literature from the Soviet period uses a modified Cyrillic alphabet. Uzbek may be one of the easier Turkic languages to master, as it dispenses with many of the complex rules of vowel harmony that we encounter in other Turkic languages. It descends directly from the Chagatai Turkic literary language of Central Asia, which was used after the 13th century, though it is also connected to older forms of Turkic, written for the past two millennia in Central Asia. 

Uzbek Faculty