Uyghur language study at the Department of Central Eurasian Studies (CEUS)
Indiana is the only university in the U.S. that offers three levels of Uyghur: two semesters each of introductory, intermediate, and advanced. Small classes, individual attention, a friendly and fun atmosphere, interesting teaching materials, scholarship opportunities for future study and research abroad will help you to learn this unique language.
Uyghur language learning as part of the CEUS minor
Fulfill your foreign language requirement by taking two years of Uyghur! Two more courses in culture or history, and you can receive a minor in CEUS.
Why study Uyghur?
It’s the native language of over ten million people in Xinjiang and Central Asia. The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region occupies one sixth of China’s territory (nearly as large as Alaska). Significant communities of Uyghur-speakers are also located in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and various other countries have Uyghur-speaking expatriate communities.
Learning Uyghur is a gateway to the Turkic world and Central Asia. Non-profits, government, the military, and international companies are all interested in finding people who speak Uyghur. Many students learning Uyghur use the language to explore a region that is still little-known and mysterious to many, yet crucial to China and the region’s future development and stability. The neighborhoods in Xinjiang thrum with a Middle Eastern beat and mosques and minarets grace the skyline. Street vendors offer spices, nuts, and fruits, jeweled knives, richly embroidered caps, or seasoned kebabs and savory Central Asian pilaf.
Uyghur belongs to the Uyghuric branch of the Turkic language family, which also includes languages such as Salar and the more distantly related Uzbek. Like many other Turkic languages, Uyghur displays vowel harmony and agglutination, lacks noun classes or grammatical genderor. More distinctly Uyghur processes include, especially in northern dialects, vowel reduction and umlauting. In addition to influence of other Turkic languages, Uyghur has historically been influenced strongly by Persian and Arabic, and more recently by Mandarin Chinese and Russian.
Uyghur began being written in the fifth century. The Arabic-derived writing system is the most common and the only standard in China, although other writing systems are used for auxiliary and historical purposes. Unlike most Arabic-derived scripts, the Uyghur Arabic alphabet has mandatory marking of all vowels. Two Latin and one Cyrillic alphabet are also used, though to a much lesser extent.