Letter Connection Rules: An Overview

ھەرپ ئۇلىنىش قائىدىسى: قىسقىچە تونۇشتۇرۇش

The modern Uyghur Arabic alphabet consists of 32 letters, all of which may unite in endless combinations to make for beautifully connected strings that, despite their beauty, may look like unintelligible scribbles to the uninitiated reader. While the Paj-Puj Palace assumes you to have a basic familiarity with writing and reading the Uyghur Arabic script, this section is nevertheless here to both act as a refresher and provide a systematic description of how and why the different letters change shape when they do, and what rules to lean on when trying to make a decision as to which form is correct in the rarer-encountered, easier-to-botch-up cases.

First and foremost, it is not at all necessary to commit these rules to memory to learn to read and write Uyghur perfectly. In fact, you'd probably be better off picking up a pen and just writing out some example sentences, or just coming up with your own, as a way of getting used to what is right and what isn't. Obviously, reading Uyghur writing will help a lot also. That said, understanding the system behind why certain forms are correct and why others aren't may end up saving you precious time, especially if you're more of a systematic learner.

There are two key principles that essentially delineate the entire Uyghur letter-connection system. The first is the rule that dictates when connected strings inside a given word start and stop. This is very simple and depends solely on what this site calls "breaking letters" - the 11 of the 32 Uyghur letters that force the termination of a string. Put simply, if you're writing a word and hit one of those 11 breaking letters, you'll have no choice but to lift your pen, allow a short space, and start a new string.

The second key principle consists in the binary (yes/no) conditions that dictate what form should be used for a given letter. There is a total of three:

Consequently, the number of forms of a given letter depends on whether it's breaking vs. non-breaking and on whether it's a consonant vs. a vowel:

Finally, the letter ل followed by the letter ئا yields, in most cases, the special combined form لا. This is the only special combined form in Uyghur, so learn it and love it, as you need not worry about having to learn any others.


  1. Personal research/experience