Uyghur Language - History

History

The Old Turkic language is an ancient Turkic language used from the 7th to 13th centuries in Mongolia and the Xinjiang region, and is especially found among the Orkhon inscriptions and Turpan texts. It is the direct ancestor of the Uyghur Turkic languages, including Uyghur and the Uzbek language. By contrast, the Western Yugur language, although in geographic proximity, is more closely related to the Siberian Turkic languages in Siberia.

Probably around 1077, a scholar of the Turkic languages, Mahmud al-Kashgari from Kashgar in modern-day Xinjiang, published a Turkic language dictionary and description of the geographic distribution of many Turkic languages, Divān-ul Lughat-ul Turk (English: Compendium of the Turkic Dialects; Uyghur: تۈركى تىللار دىۋانى‎ Türki Tillar Divani). The book, described by scholars as an "extraordinary work," documents the rich literary tradition of Turkic languages; it contains folk tales (including descriptions of the functions of shamans) and didactic poetry (propounding "moral standards and good behaviour"), besides poems and poetry cycles on topics such as hunting and love, and numerous other language materials.

Old Turkic, through the influence of Perso-Arabic after the 13th century, developed into the Chagatai language, a literary language used all across Central Asia until the early 20th century. After Chaghatai fell into extinction, the standard versions of Uyghur and Uzbek were developed from dialects in the Chagatai-speaking region, showing abundant Chaghatai influence. Uyghur language today shows considerable Persian influence as a result from Chagatai, including numerous Persian loanwords.

The historical term "Uyghur" was appropriated for the language formerly known as Eastern Turki by government officials in the Soviet Union in 1922 and in Xinjiang in 1934. Sergey Malov was behind the idea of renaming Turki to Uyghurs.

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