Turkmen language

Turkmen language

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Encyclopedia
Turkmen is the national language of Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

. It is spoken by approximately 3,000,000 people in Turkmenistan, and by an additional approximately 380,000 in northwestern Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 and 500,000 in northeastern Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

.

Classification, related languages and dialects


Turkmen is in the Turkic Language Family. It is a member of the southwestern Turkic
Oghuz languages
The Oghuz languages, a major branch of the Turkic language family, are spoken by more than 110 million people in an area spanning from the Balkans to China.-Linguistic features:...

 sub-branch, more specifically the East Oghuz group. This group also includes Khorasani Turkic. Turkmen is closely related to Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

 and Azerbaijani
Azerbaijani language
Azerbaijani or Azeri or Torki is a language belonging to the Turkic language family, spoken in southwestern Asia by the Azerbaijani people, primarily in Azerbaijan and northwestern Iran...

, with which it is for the most part mutually intelligible
Mutual intelligibility
In linguistics, mutual intelligibility is recognized as a relationship between languages or dialects in which speakers of different but related languages can readily understand each other without intentional study or extraordinary effort...

.

Turkmen has vowel harmony
Vowel harmony
Vowel harmony is a type of long-distance assimilatory phonological process involving vowels that occurs in some languages. In languages with vowel harmony, there are constraints on which vowels may be found near each other....

, 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
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

) referred to as "Chagatai", but like all Turkmen dialects it reflects only a limited influence from classical Chagatai
Chagatai language
The Chagatai language is an extinct Turkic language which was once widely spoken in Central Asia, and remained the shared literary language there until the early twentieth century...

.

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
Saparmurat Niyazov
Saparmurat Atayevich Niyazov; , was a Turkmen politician who served as President of Turkmenistan from 2 November 1990 until his death in 2006...

 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
Arabic alphabet
The Arabic alphabet or Arabic abjad is the Arabic script as it is codified for writing the Arabic language. It is written from right to left, in a cursive style, and includes 28 letters. Because letters usually stand for consonants, it is classified as an abjad.-Consonants:The Arabic alphabet has...

. 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.

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. Vowels and their sounds are as follows:
Front
Front vowel
A front vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a front vowel is that the tongue is positioned as far in front as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Front vowels are sometimes also...

Back
Back vowel
A back vowel is a type of vowel sound used in spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a back vowel is that the tongue is positioned as far back as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Back vowels are sometimes also called dark...

unrounded rounded unrounded rounded
Close
Close vowel
A close vowel is a type of vowel sound used in many spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a close vowel is that the tongue is positioned as close as possible to the roof of the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant.This term is prescribed by the...

i/и [i] ü/ү [y] üý/үй [yː] y/ы [ɯ] u/у [u]
Mid
Mid vowel
A mid vowel is a vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a mid vowel is that the tongue is positioned mid-way between an open vowel and a close vowel...

e/е [e] ö/ө [ø] o/о [o]
Open
Open vowel
An open vowel is defined as a vowel sound in which the tongue is positioned as far as possible from the roof of the mouth. Open vowels are sometimes also called low vowels in reference to the low position of the tongue...

ä/ә [æː] a/а [a]1

  1. For purposes of vowel harmony (see below) the central vowel [a] is considered back.

Consonants


Turkmen consonant phonemes (shown in Turkmen alphabet):
Bilabial
Bilabial consonant
In phonetics, a bilabial consonant is a consonant articulated with both lips. The bilabial consonants identified by the International Phonetic Alphabet are:...

Dental/
alveolar
Post-
alveolar
Postalveolar consonant
Postalveolar consonants are consonants articulated with the tongue near or touching the back of the alveolar ridge, further back in the mouth than the alveolar consonants, which are at the ridge itself, but not as far back as the hard palate...

Palatal
Palatal consonant
Palatal consonants are consonants articulated with the body of the tongue raised against the hard palate...

Velar
Velar consonant
Velars are consonants articulated with the back part of the tongue against the soft palate, the back part of the roof of the mouth, known also as the velum)....

/
uvular
Uvular consonant
Uvulars are consonants articulated with the back of the tongue against or near the uvula, that is, further back in the mouth than velar consonants. Uvulars may be plosives, fricatives, nasal stops, trills, or approximants, though the IPA does not provide a separate symbol for the approximant, and...

Glottal
Glottal consonant
Glottal consonants, also called laryngeal consonants, are consonants articulated with the glottis. Many phoneticians consider them, or at least the so-called fricative, to be transitional states of the glottis without a point of articulation as other consonants have; in fact, some do not consider...

plosive p b
п б
[p] [b]
t d
т д
[t̪] [d̪]
k g
к г
[k]/[q] [ɡ]/[ʁ]
nasal m
м
[m]
n
н
[n]
ň
ң
[ŋ]
flap r
р
[ɾ]
fricative f w
ф в
[ɸ] [β]
s z
с з
[θ] [ð]
ş ž
ш ж
[ʃ] [ʒ]
h
х
[h]/[x]
affricate ç j
ч җ
[t͡ʃ] [d͡ʒ]
approximant l
л
[l]
ý
й
[j]

Vowel harmony


Like other Turkic languages, Turkmen is characterized by vowel harmony
Vowel harmony
Vowel harmony is a type of long-distance assimilatory phonological process involving vowels that occurs in some languages. In languages with vowel harmony, there are constraints on which vowels may be found near each other....

. 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
Grammatical conjugation
In linguistics, conjugation is the creation of derived forms of a verb from its principal parts by inflection . Conjugation may be affected by person, number, gender, tense, aspect, mood, voice, or other grammatical categories...

 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.

Evidentiality




Evidentiality is determined by four markers, roughly:

-dY (Direct Evidence)

-Yp-dYr (Hearsay)

-dYr-mY-näm (Indirect Evidence)

-mAlY (Must Have Been..)

Some independent particles may be said to convey evidentiality: on such word is the particle eken.
1. Aman syrkawla-p-dyr.

Aman become sick-EV-COP
(I heard that) Aman is sick.(information is "hearsay")
Compare 1 with 2.a and 2.b:

2.a. Aman syrkawla-dy.

Aman become sick-3sPAST
2.b. Aman syrkaw.

Aman sick.
Aman is sick. (speaker has spoken with Aman)
3. Maral Aşgabat-dan gel-ip-dir.

Maral Ashgabat-ABL come-EV-COP
(I heard that) Maral came from Ashgabat.

The Evidentiality of Unlicensed Baked Good Consumption or Verbal Affixes Denoting a Lack of Direct Knowledge
4. Ben iý-di sen-iň köke-ler-iň-i.

Ben eat-3spast you-GEN cookie-pl-2sPOSS-ACC
Ben ate your cookies.

i. The speaker saw Ben eat the cookies (direct evidence).

ii. Ben told the speaker that he ate the cookies.

5. Ben sen-iň köke-ler-iň-i iý-ip-dir.

Ben you-GEN cookie-pl-2sPOSS-ACC eat-EV-COP
Ben ate your cookies.

i. The speaker heard from someone else that Ben ate the cookies (hearsay).

ii. Generally, the speaker learned through means other than 4.i and 4.ii that Ben ate the cookies.

6.a. Ben iý-ip-dir-mikä(n) sen-iň köke-ler-iň-i.

Ben eat-EV-COP-EV you-GEN cookie-pl-2sPOSS-ACC
Ben ate your cookies, or more loosely: I wonder if Ben ate your cookies.

i. The speaker saw evidence of the action, i.e. crumbs, and "made the connection." (informant's account)

ii. The speaker "doesn't concretely know [Ben] ate them." (informant's account)

iii. In the words of the informant: "I am questioning myself. But it's not a question."

iv. In other words: a deduction from indirect evidence, a suspicion

6.b. Men (...) iý-ip-dir-in-mikäm?

I (...) eat-EV-1sPRES(?)-EV
Did I eat something?

i. The speaker questions whether or not s/he has performed an action.

ii. Evidence of the particular action may be direct, however the nature of its complement (i.e. an item of food) may be in doubt.

7. Ben iý-en bol-maly sen-iň köke-ler-iň-i.

Ben eat-PART be-OBLG you-GEN cookie-PL-2sPOSS-ACC
Ben must be the one who ate your cookies.

i. The action is a logical inference from indirect evidence, similar to in the English gloss.

  • Note the emphatic word order (SVO as opposed to canonical SOV) in 4.

  • Note the postposed complement in 7. A tree of 7 would look something like {(Ben [{(the one who ate [ti])} must be]) [your cookies]i } using different brackets only in order to make the nesting more obvious.

  • In 6.a., the verb appears in the form iý-ip-dir-minäm. I've analyzed the final two syllables as one evidential particle, glossed as EV. This follows partly from the intuitions of the informant, and partly from the consistence: it always appears as -minäm. Nonetheless, it could also be glossed as ...eat-EV-COP-INT-what..., something like, literally, Did Ben eat your cookies, or what?'

Negation


One way to express negation in Turkmen is with the negative verb ýok. This verb does not inflect for person or number.
Onuň maşyny ýok.
3sg car-GEN NEGV
'He does not have a car.'


Öýde Amandan başga adam ýok.
houseLOC AmanINST except person NEGV
'There is no one but Aman in the house.'


The phonetically similar suffix -ok is another option: it attaches to the verb which it negates. It comes after the stem and before the tense suffix. -Ok does not modify its form due to vowel harmony. In addition to -ok there is another suffix -me or -ma. It appears -mV is used when dealing with one event, -ok for more habitual or lasting states:
Men bilemok. 'I don't know.'
Men bilemokdym. 'I didn't know (for a long time).'
Men bilmedim. 'I didn't know (on one occasion).'


(these correspond to the positive forms 'Men bilyärin', 'Men bilyärdim', and 'Men bildim.'
Ol ajyganok.
3sg to hunger-GERUND-NEG
Literally *'He is not hungering'; in grammatical English, 'He is not hungry.' (compare to däl construction below)



Speakers of Eastern dialects of Turkmen, influenced by Uzbek, are less likely to utilize the -ok suffix.

Yet another way of expressing negation is by the negative particle däl.
Men şu kitaby okamaly däl.
1sg this book-ACC read-OBLIG NEG
I do not have to read this book. or, I should not read this book. (sentence was elicited for the latter meaning)

Ol aç däl.
3sg hungry NEG (note the lack of copula)
He is not hungry.


Kofe gyzgyn bolup biler.
The coffee might be hot.


Kofe gyzgyn däl bolup biler.
The coffee might not be hot.


Kofe gyzgyn dälmi?
Isn't the coffee hot?



There is not an equivalent in Turkmen to the English prefix 'un-'. That is, one can't simply attach an affix to a verb to indicate the opposite action, as in wrap the present --> unwrap the present.

It appears that different tenses use different forms of negation, as in the following sentences:
Men ylgamok.
I am not running. (present)


Men ylgamadym.
I did not run. (past)


Men ylgajak däl.
I will not run. (definite future)



Turkmen Case System

Turkmen has six cases: Accusative, Dative, Genitive, Instrumental, Locative, and Nominative.
Pronouns 1 sg 2 sg 3 sg 1 pl 2 pl 3 pl
Nominative men(-ø)
Genitive meniň
Dative maňa
Accusative meni
Locative mende
Instrumental menden


Back Vowels: The noun sygyr "cow" declined in the six Turkmen cases, with Jenneta's examples of how it would be used for each:

{| class="wikitable" border="1"
|-
! Turkmen case name
! English case name
! Noun + ending
! Example
|-
| Baş düşüm
| Nominative
| sygyr
| Sygyr yzyna geldi.
|-
| Eýelik düşüm
| Genitive
| sygyryň
| Men sygyryň guýrugyny çekdim.
|-
| Ýöneliş düşüm
| Dative
| sygyra
| Men sygyra iým berdim.
|-
| Ýeňiş düşüm
| Accusative
| sygyry
| Men sygyry sagdym.
|-
| Wagt-orun düşüm
| Locative
| sygyrda
| Sygyrda näme günä bar?
|-
| Çykys düşüm
| Instrumental
| sygyrdan
| Bu kesel sygyrdan geçdi. Men sygyrdan ýadadym.
|}


Front Vowels: The proper noun Jeren (a woman's name) declined in the six Turkmen cases, with examples of how it would be used for each:
{| class="wikitable" border="1"
|-
! Turkmen case name
! English case name
! Noun + ending
! Example
|-
| Baş düşüm
| Nominative
| Jeren
| Jeren yzyna geldi.
|-
| Eýelik düşüm
| Genitive
| Jereniň
| Men Jereniň saçyny çekdim.
|-
| Ýöneliş düşüm
| Dative
| Jerene
| Men Jerene nahar berdim.
|-
| Ýeňiş düşüm
| Accusative
| Jereni
| Men Jereni gördüm.
|-
| Wagt-orun düşüm
| Locative
| Jerende
| Jerende näme günä bar?
|-
| Çykys düşüm
| Instrumental
| Jerenden
| Bu kesel Jerenden geçdi. Men Jerenden ýadadym.
|}

Suffixes


Suffixes, or "goşulmalar", 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.

Literature


The leading Turkmen poet is Magtymguly Pyragy
Magtymguly Pyragy
Magtymguly Pyragy was a Turkmen spiritual leader and philosophical poet who made significant efforts to secure independence and autonomy for his people in the 18th century....

, who wrote in the eighteenth century. His language represents a transitional stage between Chagatai
Chagatai language
The Chagatai language is an extinct Turkic language which was once widely spoken in Central Asia, and remained the shared literary language there until the early twentieth century...

 and spoken Turkmen.

numbers


0.nol
1.bir
2.iki
3.üç
4.dört
5.bäş
6.alty
7.ýedi
8.sekiz
9.dokuz
10.on.
For 11-19, it is just like saying 'ten one, ten two, ten three' and so on.
20.ýigrimi
30.otuz
40.kyrk
50.elli
60.altmyş
70.ýetmiş
80.segsen
90.togsan
100.ýüz
1000.müň

colours


black - gara | blue - gök | brown - goňur, mele | grey - çal | green - ýaşyl | orange - narynç, mämişi | pink - gülgün | purple - benewşe, melewşe | red - gyzyl | white - ak | yellow -sary

basic expressions


yes - hawa | no - ýok | goodbye - sag boluň, hoş | good morning - ertiriňiz haýyrly bolsun | good evening - agşamyňyz haýyrly bolsun | good night - gijäňiz rahat bolsun | please - baş üstüne | thank you - sag boluň

language difficulties


Do you speak English? - Siz iňlisçe gepleýärsiňizmi? | I don't speak Turkmen - Men türkmençe geplemeýärin | What does it mean? - munuň manysy näme?

External links