Turkmen is a Turkic language that is spoken in Turkmenistan. Approximately 4 million people speak this language in Turkmenistan. An additional 1.4 million speakers can be found in the northwestern part of Iran and 700,000 speakers in the northwestern part of Afghanistan. Speakers can also be found in other countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Turkey, Germany, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Turkmen is closely related to Azerbaijani and Turkish and they are partly mutually intelligible.
A written form of the language first appeared during the 10th century. The Arabic script was used to write the language. Between 1928 and 1940, the Latin alphabet was used. After 1940 the Cyrillic alphabet was used. The Latin alphabet that is based on the Turkish language has been adopted since 1991, when Turkmenistan attained independence. However, the Cyrillic alphabet is still in wide use. The transition from Cyrillic to the Latin alphabet was rather slow. This was because old politicians who were in opposition of the new authoritarian rule wanted to show their defiance to the new political dispensation, so they continued to use the Cyrillic alphabet in newspapers and other publications, including online media such as websites. In any case, the Latin alphabet had some unusual letters in its alphabet. This included the symbol of the dollar, yen, pound and cents. Nevertheless, this was worked on and these symbols replaced with more orthodox letters. Turkmen words do not sound exactly the way they are written, just like English words do not correspond to the way they are written.
Turkmen has several dialects. The dialects are divided into 2 major groups. This includes the the major dialects and the peripheral dialects. The major dialects include Arsari, Salir, Teke, Goklen, Yomut and Chowdur. Most linguists are of the opinion that the Yomut and Teke dialects are what form the main basis of the standardized Turkmen language. Dialectical differences are phonetic as well as phonological. Turkmen has borrowed loan words from different languages over time. This includes Russian, Farsi and Arabic languages. Turkmen has a set of 9 long and short vowels and 23 consonants.