Turkic

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Turkic

(tûr`kĭk), group of languages forming a subdivision of the AltaicAltaic
, subfamily of the Ural-Altaic family of languages (see Uralic and Altaic languages). Some scholars still consider Altaic an independent linguistic family. Spoken by over 130 million people, who occupy parts of a territory that stretches from E Europe across the Central
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 subfamily of the Ural-Altaic family of languages (see Uralic and Altaic languagesUralic and Altaic languages
, two groups of related languages thought by many scholars to form a single Ural-Altaic linguistic family. However, other authorities hold that the Uralic and Altaic groups constitute two unconnected and separate language families.
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). The Turkic group of languages has a total of some 125 million speakers in Turkey, Azerbaijan, Central Asia, and parts of Russia and China. TurkishTurkish language,
member of the Turkic subdivision of the Altaic subfamily of the Ural-Altaic family of languages (see Uralic and Altaic languages). Turkish is the official language of Turkey and one of the official languages of Cyprus.
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, the official language of Turkey, is the most important of these tongues and has the largest number of speakers, some 50 million, chiefly in Turkey. Other major Turkic languages include Azerbaijani, Uzbek, Tatar, Kazakh, Uigur, Turkmen, Chuvash, and Kyrgyz. The Turkic languages have been assigned to various groupings, an acceptable arrangement being the division into Southern (Turkish, Azerbaijani, Turkmen, and Chuvash), Eastern (Uzbek and Uigur), and Western (Kyrgyz, Kazakh, Tatar, and others). Such a classification is tentative, and more definite grouping awaits the results of further research. Like the other Uralic and Altaic languages, the Turkic tongues are characterized by agglutination and exhibit vowel harmony. They are also noted for an abundance of participles and gerunds. Several different scripts were used in the distant past by the Turkic-speaking peoples, but following their association with Islam in the 9th cent. A.D., they largely turned to the Arabic alphabet. After 1939, however, the Turkic-speaking peoples in the republics of the former USSR used modified versions of the Cyrillic alphabet. In the mid-1990s a number of the newly independent republics (Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan) began to switch to Roman script; Kazakhstan began moving toward use of the Latin alphabet in 2006. The Russian republic of Tatarstan began its own switch in 2000, but Russian law subsequently mandated use of Cyrillic-based alphabets. Turkic-speakers in Chinese territory also use the Roman alphabet. In Turkey proper the change to a modified Roman alphabet was made in 1928.

Bibliography

See N. A. Baskakov, The Turkic Languages of Central Asia (1954); G. L. Lewis, Turkish Grammar (1967); K. H. Menges, The Turkic Languages and Peoples: An Introduction to Turkic Studies (1968).

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Turkic

a branch or subfamily of the Altaic family of languages, including Turkish, Turkmen, Kirghiz, Tatar, etc., members of which are found from Turkey to NE China, esp in central Asia
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005