The meaning of Old Uyghur or Old Turkish is comparable to Latin in the Romanic languages. However, a state-of-the-art dictionary of this language does not yet exist. But since January 1, 2017, a research project under the supervision of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences has begun to create a dictionary of Old-Uigurian /Old-Turkish.
The Turkish people of today’s Uyghurs are not in a position to produce such a fundamental work of their own, especially as a result of the Chinese government’s radical policy of sinicisation. The tradition-rich Göttingen Uiguria/Turkology has therefore for a long time regarded it as its task to scientifically open up and preserve as a world cultural heritage the ancient - above all Buddhist and Manichean - high cultures of the Uighurs in their written testimonies, which have been handed down over a period of more than 600 years (8th to 14th century). The pioneer is the emeritus Göttingen Turkologist Prof. Klaus Röhrborn. He will be contributing to the dictionary, as well as Dr. Jens Wilkens, Dr. Zekine Özertural and cand. phil. Gökhan Silfeler. Another Turkologist from Göttingen, Dr. Hans Nugteren, will join the team in autumn. The project is led by Prof. Jens Peter Laut. However, research into the pre-Islamic Turkish language and culture also has a longer tradition in Turkey and was promoted especially during Atatürk’s lifetime († 1938). However, especially in recent times, this tradition has been threatened by the increasing re-Islamization of the scientific community. The “Wörterbuch des Altuigurischen” offers an access to the ancient Turkish culture outside of this religiously bound approach and is a great opportunity for Turkish science - not least because the Lemmata are also translated into Turkish - to take part in the current research on the pre-Islamic-Turkish language and culture of Central Asia.