Learn about Turkmen Language and Culture

Overview of the Turkmen Language

Turkmen is the state language of Turkmenistan. It is also spoken by the Turkmen people who live in Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, northwestern Iran, the Russian Federation, and other countries. The Turkmen language is one of the most famous Turkic languages, belonging to the Oghuz group together with Azerbaijani, Crimean Tartar, Turkish, and other less well-known languages. Because the Turkic languages are all related, they have much in common in grammar structure and vocabulary.

Turkmen consists of several dialects, which can be divided into two main groups. The first group consists of major dialects, often called 'central' dialects. These major dialects are Yomut, Teke, Salir, Sarik, Goklen, Arsari, and Chowdur. The second group unites a number of periphery dialects. There are essential distinctions among the various dialects, including differences in vocabulary and phonetics. For example, some dialects have no long vowel sounds, or differ in the pronunciation of sounds like [s] and [z].

The Turkmen Alphabet

The first writing system used for the Turkmen language was an Arabic script, although very little was written in it. The Unified Turkish Latin Alphabet (UTLA), based on the Latin alphabet, was introduced in 1929. It was very close to the Latin alphabet used in Turkey. In 1940, the Cyrillic script for Turkmen replaced the UTLA. Finally, in 1995, the "Täze Elipbiÿi" or New Alphabet was formally introduced by the president and officially came into use in 1996. This alphabet is used today. There are 30 letters in the Turkmen alphabet, including 9 vowels and 21 consonants.

Turkmen Pronunciation

Turkmen sounds and letters do not have a one-to-one correspondence, so just as in English, some Turkmen words are not written exactly like they sound. In particular, the letters B, G, and K each indicate several sounds.

The distinction between long and short vowels is an important feature of the Turkmen language. Each vowel sound has its long and short variants. In fact, there are some monosyllabic words that are written the same, but are pronounced differently and have different meanings depending on whether the vowel is long or short. Another notable feature of the Turkmen language is vowel harmony. All vowels can be classified as front vowels or back vowels. In the Turkmen language, if there is a front vowel in the first syllable of a word, front vowels are also used in the following syllables. Likewise, if there is a back vowel in first syllable of a word, back vowels are used in the following syllables.

Generally, stress in Turkmen is placed on the last syllable of a word. If the word accepts affixes, the stress usually goes on the affix. This fact means that the position of the stress may change as endings are added to a word.

Turkmen Vocabulary

In the course of its history, the Turkmen language has enriched its vocabulary by borrowing many words from different languages. Turkmen has many words borrowed from Arabic, Farsi, Russian, and other languages, such kitap "book", edara "office", kino "cinema", and gazet "newspaper". In these words, vowel harmony may not occur, and suffixes or endings are added according to the last vowel sound in a syllable.

Turkmen Grammar

Turkmen is an agglutinative language, meaning that most grammatical functions are indicated by attaching suffixes to the stems of words. This trait is common in Turkic languages. Turkmen nouns take suffixes to show case, so the form of a noun will indicate its role in a sentence. Turkmen adjectives usually come before nouns. However, Turkmen uses postpositions, which come after the words they apply to, in place of prepositions, which come before such words.

In Turkmen, there are two main types of verbs: simple verbs and compound verbs. Verbs have voices, moods, and tenses. The normal sentence order in Turkmen is Subject-Object-Verb, although other orders are possible in certain types of sentences.

You can't learn to speak Turkmen (or any language) well without regular practice. That's one reason why Transparent Language's Turkmen software programs can make it easier to learn the language. With these language learning products, you can work with your new language as often as you need to master the material and commit it to your long-term memory. We wish you the best of luck in your efforts to learn the Turkmen language!

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