The Uzbek language is one of the Turkic languages close to Uyghur language and both of them belong to the Karluk branch of the Turkic language family. It is the only official national language and since 1992 is officially written in the Latin alphabet.
Before the 1920s, the written language of Uzbeks was called Turki (known to Western scholars as Chagatai) and used the Nastaʿlīq script. In 1926 the Latin alphabet was introduced and went through several revisions throughout the 1930s. Finally, in 1940, the Cyrillic alphabet was introduced by Soviet authorities and was used until the fall of Soviet Union. In 1993 Uzbekistan shifted back to the Latin script (Uzbek alphabet), which was modified in 1996 and is being taught in schools since 2000. Educational establishments teach only the Latin notation. At the same time, the Cyrillic notation is common among the older generation.[Even though the Cyrillic notation of Uzbek has now been abolished for official documents, it is still used by a number of popular newspapers and websites whilst a few TV channels duplicate the Latin notation with the Cyrillic one.
Karakalpak, a Turkic language closer to Kazakh and spoken by half a million people, is spoken primarily in the Republic of Karakalpakstan and has an official status on the territory.
Although the Russian language is not an official language in the country, it is widely used in many fields. Digital information from the government is bilingual. Russian is an important language for interethnic communication, especially in the cities, including much day-to-day social, technical, scientific, governmental and business use. The country is also home to approximately one million native Russian speakers.
The Tajik language (a variety of Persian) is widespread in the cities of Bukhara and Samarkand because of their relatively large population of ethnic Tajiks. It is also found in large pockets in Kasansay, Chust, Rishtan and Sokh in Ferghana Valley, as well as in Burchmulla, Ahangaran, Baghistan in the middle Syr Darya district, and finally in, Shahrisabz, Qarshi, Kitab and the river valleys of Kafiringan and Chaganian, forming altogether, approximately 10–15% of the population of Uzbekistan.
More than 800,000 people also speak the Kazakh language.
There are no language requirements to attain citizenship in Uzbekistan.
In April 2020, a draft bill was introduced in Uzbekistan to regulate the exclusive use of the Uzbek language in government affairs. Under this legislation, government workers could incur fines for doing work in languages other than Uzbek. Though unsuccessful, it was met with criticism by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova. In response, a group of Uzbek intellectuals signed an open letter arguing for the instatement of Russian as an official language alongside Uzbek, citing historical ties, the large Russian-speaking population in Uzbekistan, and the usefulness of Russian in higher education.