The Central Asian States: Discovering Independence

By Gregory Gleason | Go to book overview

A Note on Languages in Central Asia

One of the most persistent issues in books about Central Asia is how the names of the countries are actually spelled. Is it Tadzhikistan, Tojikistan, or Tojikiston? Is it Uzbekistan, Uzbekiston, or Özbekiston? The answer to these and other questions regarding the writing systems of Central Asian languages is a simple one: It all depends.

Most of Central Asia's indigenous societies are Turkic-speaking. The Turkic languages as a group consist of Turkish (as spoken in Turkey) as well as Uzbek, Turkmens, Kyrgyz, Kazak, and several other languages. All of the Turkic languages are closely related--but they are not all mutually intelligible. Printed material regarding Central Asian countries appears in a number of different languages written in a number of different alphabets. The alphabet common today in Central Asia is Cyrillic, the alphabet in which Russian is written. Some material, particularly in Tojikiston, appears in Arabic script. The amount of material written in Arabic script is growing, but this alphabet does not constitute a major medium of communication.

In recent years an increasing amount of material originally published in the Central Asian indigenous languages has appeared in the Latin alphabet. Moreover, governments in the Central Asian countries have announced plans to switch officially from the Cyrillic alphabet to the Latin alphabet, using an alphabet similar to that of modern-day Turkish. Turkish is written using a variant of the Latin alphabet widely known and used throughout Europe and the Americas. This transition from the Cyrillic to the Latin is expected to require about a decade to complete.

Transliteration is the process of moving from one orthography into another. Transliterating simply means that words are spelled in a different orthography; they are not translated. Until the transition to new writing systems has been accomplished in the Central Asian countries, it will be necessary to transliterate references. Moreover, it will continue to be necessary to transliterate historical references.

-xiii-

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The Central Asian States: Discovering Independence
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xi
  • A Note on Languages In Central Asia xiii
  • One - New States and Ancient Societies 1
  • Notes 21
  • Two - Legacies of Central Asia 25
  • Notes 46
  • Three - The Soviet Socialist Republics of Central Asia 48
  • Notes 77
  • Four - Central Asian States Emergent 82
  • Notes 132
  • Five - Central Asia and the World 136
  • Notes 164
  • Six - Transition in Asia 168
  • Notes 184
  • Chronology of Events In Modern Central Asia: November 1917- December 1995 187
  • Sources on Central Asian Politics, Economics, And Society 205
  • About the Book and Author 211
  • Index 212
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