Voice Over Sydney: Uzbek is a member of the Turkic branch of the Altaic language family. Uzbek is a macro language that consists of two distantly related languages: Northern and Southern Uzbek. They are distinct languages whose speakers can understand each other only with difficulty due to differences in pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary.
Uzbek is descended from Chagatai Turkic, an extinct Turkic language which once served as a lingua franca in Central Asia. The word Chagatai relates to the Chagatai Khanate, the western part of the Mongol empire, left to Genghis Khan’s second son Chagatai Khan. In the 14th century, the Chagatai Khanate was conquered by Timur, a native of Samarkand. Timur’s successors were later ousted from the Chagatai Khanate by the Uzbeks. The Kazakhs, originated as dissident Uzbeks during the same period. Both groups became part of the Soviet Union in 1917. After the fall of the Soviet Union,Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan became independent countries.
Voice Over Sydney: Northern Uzbek
Northern Uzbek is spoken by 21.3 million people in Uzbekistan. It is also spoken in other Central Asian countries, in addition to small expatriate communities in North America, Australia, and Europe . It is estimated that the total numbers of speakers of Uzbek worldwide is around 24 million (Ethnologue). In 1989, Northern Uzbek became the official language of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Today it is used in the country’s media, education, entertainment, business, and government. More than half of the newspapers in Uzbekistan are published in Uzbek. Education in Uzbek is available from elementary to post-secondary level.
Voice Over Sydney: Southern Uzbek
Southern Uzbek is a related language spoken by about 2.9 million people in Afghanistan. It is a provincial statutory language in several of the country’s northern provinces (Ethnologue).
The name “Uzbek” is most likely derived from the name of Muslim ruler Oz Beg Khan, leader of the Golden Horde, a powerful group of Turkic tribes, from 1212 to 1341. The history of the Uzbek peoples is highlighted by a period of Soviet oppression followed by a rebirth of Uzbek nationalism and ethnic pride.