Turkmen language

Turkmen language

nativename= _tk. Türkmen dili
states=Turkmenistan, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey
speakers=ca. 9 million
fam1=Altaic [" [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_family.asp?subid=90009] Ethnologue"] (controversial)

Turkmen (Latin script: türkmen, Cyrillic: түркмен, ISO 639-1: tk, ISO 639-2: tuk) is the name of the national language of Turkmenistan. It is spoken by approximately 3,430,000 people in Turkmenistan, and by an additional approximately 5,500,000 people in other countries, including Iran (2,000,000), Iraq (222,000), Afghanistan (500,000), and Turkey (1,000,000).

Classification, related languages and dialects

Turkmen is in the Turkic family; sometimes grouped in the larger, but disputed Altaic language family. It is a member of the southwestern Turkic language family, more specifically the East Oghuz group. This group also includes Khorasani Turkic. Turkmen is closely related to the Crimean Tatar and Salar languages, and less closely related to Turkish and Azerbaijani, though it is often considered mutually intelligible with many of these languages.

Turkmen has vowel harmony, is agglutinative, and has no grammatical gender or irregular verbs. Word order is Subject Object Verb.

Written Turkmen today is based on the Yomud dialect. Other dialects are Nokhurli, Anauli, Khasarli, Nerezim, Teke (Tekke), Goklen, Salyr, Saryq, Esari and Cawdur. The Teke dialect is sometimes (especially in Afghanistan) referred to as "Chagatai", but like all Turkmen dialects it reflects only a limited influence from classical Chagatai.

Writing system

Officially, Turkmen currently is rendered in the “Täze Elipbiýi”, or “New Alphabet”, which is based on the Latin alphabet. However, the old "Soviet" Cyrillic alphabet is still in wide use. Many political parties in opposition to the authoritarian rule of President Niyazov continued to use the Cyrillic alphabet on websites and publications, most likely to distance themselves from the alphabet that Niyazov created.

Before 1929, Turkmen was written in a modified Arabic alphabet. In 1929–1938 a Latin alphabet replaced it, and then the Cyrillic alphabet was used from 1938 to 1991. In 1991, the current Latin alphabet was introduced, although the transition to it has been rather slow. It originally contained some rather unusual letters, such as the pound, dollar, yen, and cent signs, but these were later replaced by more orthodox letter symbols. In 2002, the days of the week and the months were renamed according to the ideology of Ruhnama. In July 2008 this decision was reverted.


The following phonemes are present in the Turkmen language:


Turkmen contains both short and long vowels. Doubling the duration of sound for a short vowel is generally how its long vowel counterpart is pronounced. Turkmen employs vowel harmony, a principle that is common in fellow Turkic languages. Vowels and their sounds are as follows:


Suffixes, or "goşylmalar", form a very important part of Turkmen. They can mark possession, or change a verb.

* To make a verb passive: -yl/-il; -ul/-ül; -l
* To make a verb reflexive: -yn/-in; -un/-ün; -n
* To make a verb reciprocal: -yş/-iş; -uş/-üş; -ş
* To make a verb causative: -dyr/-dir; -dur/-dür; -yr/-ir; -ur/-ür; -uz/-üz; -ar/-er; -der/-dar; -t

Suffixes reflect vowel harmony.


The leading Turkmen poet is Magtymguly Pyragy, who wrote in the eighteenth century. His language represents a transitional stage between Chagatai and spoken Turkmen.


* Garrett, Jon, Meena Pallipamu, and Greg Lastowka (1996). “Turkmen Grammar”. www.chaihana.com.

External links

* [http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/definition/Turkmen-english/ Turkmen - English Dictionary]
* [http://sozluk.parahat.com/ Turkmen - English Dictionary]
* [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=tuk Turkmen] entry in the Ethnologue
* [http://forum.tmchat.net/index.php?f=41 Learn turkmen language on Tmchat Forums (Russian)]
* [http://www.omniglot.com/writing/turkmen.htm Omniglot page on Turkmen]

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