Turkmen belongs to the Turkic branch
of the
Altaic language family
. It is included in the Turkmenistan Mapsouthern group of the Turkic branch along with Turkish and Azerbaijani.
According to Ethnologue, there are 3.4 million speakers of Turkmen
in Turkmenistan, a former Turkmen  templeconstituent republic of the USSR. In addition,
there are 0.5 million speakers of Turkmen in Afghanistan and 2 million speakers
in Iran. There are also small communities of Turkmen speakers in Iraq,
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan.

Groups of Turkic-speaking people migrated to southwestern areas of
Central Asia during the 5th-6th centuries AD. The largest migration occurred in
the 10th century when Oghuz tribes migrated from Mongolia to the
area between the Ural mountains and the Aral sea. It was
then that the term Turkmen was first mentioned. Despite some strong regional
divisions, these tribes eventually came to regard themselves as a single people.
The Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic was established in 1924. After the
disintegration of the Soviet Union, it became the newly independent Republic of
Turkmenistan in 1990.i


Turkmen, acamelslong with Russian, became the national language of the
newly independent Republic of Turkmenistan in 1990. Over 90% of the population
of Turkmenistan claim Turkmen as their mother tongue, while 50% report being
bilingual in Turkmen and Russian. Along with Russian and mostly recently with
English, it is used today in government administration and in all official
situations. It is the medium of instruction in most elementary and secondary
schools. There have been attempts to use Turkmen as a medium of instruction in
institutions of higher learning as well. Turkmen is also used in radio and
television broadcasts. There are a number of newspapers, magazines, and books in
the language. Recently, English has been added to the curriculum, and is now
listed as the third state language of Turkmenistan.i

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