Turkmenistan - Languages



Turkmen, spoken by about 72% of the population, is mandatory in the schools. It is a Turkic language of the Oghuz group, related to Azeri, Turkish, and Uzbek. Prior to the Soviet era, Turkmens wrote their language using the Arabic script. In Turkmenistan, that script was changed to Latin and then Cyrillic before World War II. The government has begun to institute the Latin script again. The Turkmen language has been influenced by Persian and Arabic elements. In recent decades, many borrowed words from Russian also have been adopted. Russian remains in common use in government and business, and is spoken by 12% of the population. Uzbek is spoken by 9%; various other languages are spoken by 7%.

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