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Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Nuts and Bolts: Turkmen.

Turkmen is the official language of Turkmenistan, and it is also spoken in parts of Iran and Afghanistan.

It's a Turkic language (yes, the clue's in the name) and if you know Turkish or Azerbaijani then you'll probably be able to work out what someone is saying in Turkmen - and, of course, this also works the other way round.

Turkmen is spoken by about seven million people, so it's in quite a healthy state, thank heavens, because it's a great treasure of the world.

How do you write Turkmen?

Well, until 1928 you wrote it in Arabic script. Then a Latin-based script was used until 1940, when all Soviet Republics switched to a Cyrillic alphabet.

And nowadays? 

I'm afraid things have only got more complicated. A Latin alphabet, the Täze Elipbiý was introduced in 1993 after the dissolution of the USSR. This alphabet is strongly associated with the president Saparmurat Niyazov, and this means that opposition politicians tend to use the Cyrillic alphabet to distance themselves from the president's policies.

But still, the Turkmen language is surviving.

So what's Turkmen like? Well, one really neat feature of the Turkmen language is that you can mark a verb so it tells people how sure you are that what you're saying is true. You can distinguish between a statement for which you have direct evidence, one that's been communicated to you by someone else, one for which the evidence is indirect, and one that's just a rumour.

What would the world be like if English used a system like that?

Word To Use Today: Turkmen. This word comes from Old-Turkic Türük and means created, born, or strong.

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