Turkish are spoken as a first language by over 80 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkish languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Cyprus, with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania and other parts of Eastern Europe. Turkish is also spoken by several million immigrants in Western Europe, particularly in Germany.
The roots of the language can be traced to Central Asia, with the first written records dating back nearly 1,200 years. To the west, the influence of Ottoman Turkish the immediate precursor of todays Turkish spread as the Ottoman Empire expanded. In 1928, as one of Ataturks Reforms in the early years of the Republic of Turkey, the Ottoman script was replaced with a phonetic variant of the Latin alphabet. Concurrently, the newly founded Turkish Language Association initiated a drive to reform the language by removing Persian and Arabic loanwords in favor of native variants and coinages from Turkic roots.
The distinctive characteristics of Turkish are vowel harmony and extensive agglutination. The basic word order of Turkish is Subject Object Verb. Turkish has a T-V distinction: second-person plural forms can be used for individuals as a sign of respect. Turkish also has no noun classes or grammatical gender.
Turkish is a member of the Turkish, or Western, subgroup of the Oghuz languages, which includes Gagauz and Azeri. The Oghuz languages form the Southwestern subgroup of the Turkic languages, a language family comprising some 30 living languages spoken across Eastern Europe, Central Asia. and Siberia. Some linguists believe the Turkic languages to be a part of a larger Altaic language family. About 40% of all speakers of Turkic languages are native Turkish speakers. The characteristic features of Turkish, such as vowel harmony, agglutination, and lack of grammatical gender, are universal within the Turkic family and the Altaic languages. There is a high degree of mutual intelligibility between Turkish and the other Oghuz languages, including Azeri, Turkmen, Qashqai, Gagauz, and Balkan Gagauz Turkish.
The earliest known Turkish inscriptions are the two monumental Orkhon inscriptions. They reside in modern Mongolia and were erected in honour of the prince Kul Tigin and his brother Emperor Bilge Khan and dating back to some time between 732 and 735, constitute another important early record. After the discovery and excavation of these monuments and associated stone slabs by Russian archaeologists in the wider area surrounding the Orkhon Valley between 1889 and 1893, it became established that the language on the inscriptions was the Old Turkic language written using the Orkhon script, which has also been referred to as "Turkish runes" or "runiform" due to an external similarity to the Germanic runic alphabets.
With the Turkish expansion during Early Middle Ages, peoples speaking Turkish languages spread across Central Asia, covering a vast geographical region stretching from Siberia to Europe and the Mediterranean. The Seljuqs of the Oghuz Turks, in particular, brought their language, Oghuz Turkish the direct ancestor of todays Turkish language into Anatolia during the 11th century. Also during the 11th century, an early linguist of the Turkish languages, Mahmud al-Kashgari from the Kara-Khanid Khanate, published the first comprehensive Turkish language dictionary and map of the geographical distribution of Turkic speakers in the Compendium of the Turkish Dialects
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