Published July 30, 2019
This video was recorded by Ben Jones White in the US state of Indiana. Uyghur, known formerly as Eastern Turki, is spoken by the Uyghur people primarily in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of Western China where it has official status, but other significant communities exist in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. The Uyghurs historically occupied the Taklamakan Desert around the Tarim Basin, by some accounts for as long as 4,000 years, and over 80% of Xinjiang's Uyghurs still live there. Although they are officially recognized as one of 55 ethnic minorities in China, they are only considered a regional minority by the Chinese government. There has been historical confusion over the origin of the Uyghur language, resulting in occasional misclassifications, but research has converged on the common ancestor of Uyghur and Uzbek as Middle Turkic via the now extinct Turkic language Chagatai. Uyghur bears influences from Arabic, Persian, Russian, Mandarin Chinese, and other Turkic languages. Despite Uyghur's official status in Xinjiang, the prestige of Mandarin has led to some Uyghur parents educating their children only in Mandarin. More recently, the Chinese government has sought to reduce the language's autonomy, erasing Uyghur from street signs and murals, and banning the use of Uyghur at all levels of education. These acts were precursors to the current mass incarceration of Uyghurs in Chinese detention centers within Xinjiang. Uyghur is spoken by over 11 million people worldwide. It is an Eastern Turkic language belonging to the Altaic language family.