It is spoken around 20 million in East Turkistan. Uyghur is also spoken by some 1.000,000 in Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Uzbekistan and there are Uyghur-speaking communities in Afghanistan, Albania, Australia, Austiria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Findland, France, Germany, Mongolia, Noway, Netherlands, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkey, United Kingdom, USA, and Egypt.
Like many other Turkic languages, Uyghur displays vowel harmony and agglutination, lacks noun classes or grammatical gender, and is a left-branching language with Subject Object Verb word order.Classification
The Uyghur language belongs to the Uyghuric or Southeastern group of the Turkic language family, which is controversially a branch of the Altaic language family.
The languages most closely related to it include Uzbek, Ili Turki, and Aini. Some linguists consider the Turkic languages to be part of the larger Altaic language family, but others believe there is not enough evidence to support this.
Early linguistic scholarly studies of Uyghur include Julius Klaproth’s 1812 Dissertation on language and script of the Uighurs (Abhandlung über die Sprache und Schrift der Uiguren) which was disputed by Isaak Jakob Schmidt. In this period, Klaproth correctly asserted that Uyghur was a Turkic language, while Schmidt believed that Uyghur should be classified with Tangut languages.
Old Uyghur or Old Turkic is an ancient form of Turkic used from the 7th to the 13th centuries in Mongolia and the Uyghurstan/East Turkestan region, in particular in the Orkhon inscriptions and Turpan texts. It is the direct ancestor of the Southeastern Turkic, or Uyghur-Chaghatai, family of languages, including the modern Uyghur and Uzbek languages. By contrast, Yugur, although in geographic proximity, is more closely related to the northeastern Turkic languages in Siberia.
During the 11th century, a scholar of the Turkic languages, Mahmud al-Kashgari (Memhud Qeshqeri) from Kashgar in modern-day Xinjiang, published the first Turkic language dictionary and description of the geographic distribution of many Turkic languages Compendium of the Turkic Dialects (Divān-ul Lughat-ul Turk).
Old Uyghur, 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 Chaghatai-speaking region, showing abundant Chaghatai influence. Uyghur language today shows considerable Persian influence as a result from Chaghatai, including numerous Persian loanwords. Modern Uyghur uses the Urumchi dialect in Xinjiang as its standard, while the similar Ili dialect is used in the former Soviet Union. Russian sources cite the central dialect of Ghulja (Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture) as the pronunciation norm for modern Standard Uyghur. The similar pronunciation of Zhetysu and Fergana Uyghurs is considered standard for Uyghurs living in the CIS countries.