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About Turkmen Language

Turkmen (Latin script: türkmençe, türkmen tili, Cyrillic: түркменче, түркмен дили, Perso-Arabic: تورکمن ﺗﻴﻠی ,تورکمنچه) is the name of the national language of Turkmenistan. It is spoken by approximately 3,000,000 people in Turkmenistan, and by an additional approximately 380,000 in northwestern Afghanistan and 500,000 in northeastern Iran.

Classification, related languages and dialects

Turkmen is in the Turkic branch of the disputed Altaic language family. It is a member of the southwestern Turkic sub-branch, more specifically the East Oghuz group. This group also includes Khorasani Turkic. Turkmen is closely related to Turkish and Azerbaijani, and it is for the most part mutually intelligible.

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 Teke (Tekke) dialect. The other dialects are Nohurly, Yomud, Änewli, Hasarly, Nerezim, Gökleň, Salyr, Saryk, Ärsary and Çowdur. 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 Elipbiý”, 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.

Vowels

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.

Vowel harmony

Like other Turkic languages, Turkmen is characterized by vowel harmony. In general, words of native origin consist either entirely of front vowels (inçe çekimli sesler) or entirely of back vowels (ýogyn çekimli sesler). Prefixes and suffixes reflect this harmony, taking different forms depending on the word to which they are attached.

The infinitive form of a verb determines whether it will follow a front vowel harmony or back vowel harmony. Words of foreign origin, mainly Russian, Persian, or Arabic, do not follow vowel harmony.

Verbs

Verbs are conjugated for singular and plural number and first, second, and third persons. There are 11 verb tenses: present comprehensive (long and short form), present perfect (regular and negative), future certain, future indefinite, conditional, past definite, obligatory, imperative, and intentional.

There are two types of verbs in Turkmen, distinguished by their infinitive forms: those ending in the suffix "-mak" and those ending in "-mek". -Mak verbs follow back vowel harmony, whereas -mek verbs follow front vowel harmony.

Literature

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

 

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