The Languages spoken in Turkmenistan


Turkmen is the official language of Turkmenistan under the 1992 Constitution.  Closely related to the Turkish and Azerbaijani languages, it is spoken by about 72% of the population or 3 million people in the country. Russian is still widely spoken in cities by 12% while Uzbek by 9% or 317,000, and other languages, including English, Balochi and Kurdishi, 7%. The other Turkmen dialects spoken in the country include Nohurdy, Anewli, Hazardy, Nerezim, Gohlen, Sadyr, Saryk, Arsary and Cowdur. Beginning 18th century, Turkmen poets and chroniclers used the classical Chagatai language, which was also used as the language of periodicals published in 1913 to 1917. Before 1929, Turkmen was written in a modified Arabic alphabet based on the Teke dialect or Chagatai, but was replaced by the Latin alphabet between 1929 and 1938 only to be replaced by Russian in 1940. In 1991 the Latin alphabet was re-introduced , containing unusual letters but was replaced later by Orthodox letter symbols. Chagatai, along with the kichak language, finds its influence  on the spken Turkmen, which was largely developed on the basis of Turkic dialects. While teke or Chagatai on the written Turkmen which is also influenced by Persian and Arabic elements.

The new alphabet is based on Latin alphabet and still uses the old Soviet Cyrillic alphabet, but from the terminology was changed for all government positions and jurisdictions from Russian to Turkmen names. Geographic names and administrative terms were also changed from Russian to Turkmen, while many streets, institutions and buildings were, on orders of the government, were renamed to Turkmen heroes in known history. The change was made specifically to remove any Soviet linguistic overlay in the country.