In 1124, Khitan noble Yollig Taxin split away from the Liao Kingdom and moved westward. He built the Western Liao Empire and ruled the Western Regions. The major languages used in the Western Liao Dynasty were Chinese and Khitan. Copper seals with Khitan characters on both the front and the back were discovered in Ili, Xinjiang, which proved the use of Khitan language in the Western Liao government. It is assumed that both the Khitan and Chinese officials in the Western Liao government could speak and write Khitan. Yollig Chucai recorded in Volume 8 of Collection of Works of Zhanran Jushi that a Chinese called Li Shichang, who was granted lordship by the Western Liao government, was capable of using Khitan language. In early 13th century, the Mongols wiped out the Western Liao Empire, and Khitan became a dead language.
- Languages of the Present
Among all the ethnic groups that have long settled in Xinjiang, the Han and Hui people use Chinese; the Uygurs, Mongols, Kazak, Kirgiz, Xibe and Russ each have their own spoken and written languages; and the Tajik, Uzbek, Tatar and Daur have their own spoken languages. Other ethnic groups moving into Xinjiang later also have their spoken languages.
Chinese, as a language, belongs to the Chinese subgroup of the Sino-Tibetan family. The Chinese script was the earliest script that was found in the Western Regions. Despite the vicissitudes in languages in the Western Regions throughout its history, Chinese was present almost all the time.
In the 2nd century BC, Zhang Qian was sent by the Han Dynasty as an envoy to the Western Regions, which began the history of the Chinese language in that region. In 60 BC (the 2nd year of
Shenjue reign), the Han government set up Office of Protector of Western Regions; as a result, “decrees of Han reached the Western Regions”, and Chinese became the official spoken and written language among states in that region. According to the chapter on the Western Regions in Book of Han, “the total number of such states was fifty, and from the director of translation, director of the city, jun, jian, li, dalu, baizhang to noble and king, all wore seals and ribbons issued by the Han government”. This was the official record of the acceptance of Han rule by states in the Western Regions and the installation of directors of translation to ensure the use of Chinese. Numerous discovered materials provided further evidence for the use of Chinese in all aspects. The use of Chinese script in local governments, military strongholds and commercial goods was exemplified by the “Seal of Guiyi (Allegiance) Qiang in the Han Dynasty” discovered in the old city of Yushgeti in Xayar County, over 70 slips recording the agricultural activities of the military discovered in the site of Tuyin on the northern bank of Lop Nur, and brocade found in the Eastern Han tomb at Niya Viajes operador, agencia en china, with Chinese characters reading “longevity and good luck to posterity” on it. There was another piece discovered in Niya, which was probably a wood slip for presenting gifts, with Chinese words of “Xiuwusongye wishes to pay regards through this jade” on the front and “held by Xiaodazi Jiujian” on the back as well as “Madame Qiemo” on it, showing the penetration of Chinese into the life of average local residents there.