The term Oghuz language is applied to the Southwestern Branch of Turkic languages such as Turkish language, Azerbaijani language and Turkmen language which are mainly spoken in Turkey, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iranian Azerbaijan, Turkmeneli, and Syria. In the 8th century, the Oghuz tribes migrated to Central Asia from Altai Mountains, and then they started to spread out through Central Asia and Khwarezm to the Middle East and Balkans. With time, Oghuz name was replaced by the names Turkmen, Seljuk, Azeri, and later Ottoman Turk. Due to the fact that Oghuz Turks settled in different parts of Asia and Europe, the Oghuz language has had a number of different features and dialects, which led linguists to classify them under the Oghuz languages.
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The Oghuz languages share a number of features that have led linguists to classify them together. Some of these features are shared with other Turkic languages; others are unique to the Oghuz family.
- Loss of initial *h sound (shared with all Turkic languages but Khalaj)
- Loss of the instrumental case (shared with all Turkic languages but Sakha and Khalaj)
- Voicing of stops before front vowels (e.g. gör- < kör- "to see")
- Loss of q/ɣ after ɨ/u (e.g. quru < quruq "dry", sarɨ < sarɨɣ "yellow")
- Change in form of participial -gan- to -an-
The Oghuz languages may be broken down into three main groups, based on geography and shared features:
- a Western group, including
- an Eastern or Turkmen group, including Turkmen, Khorasani Turkish, and the Oghuz dialect of Uzbek
- a southern group, including dialects of Iran (Qashqa'i, Sonqori, Aynallu etc.) and Afghanistan (Afshar).
An outlying language, Salar, is spoken by about 70,000 people in China.
Two further languages, Crimean Tatar and Urum, are historically Kypchak languages, but have been so heavily influenced by Oghuz languages that it is difficult to classify them definitively as either Oghuz or Kypchak.
- Johanson, Lars and Csató, Éva Ágnes (1998). The Turkic Languages. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-08200-5.
- Menges, Karl H. (1995). The Turkic Languages and Peoples. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. ISBN 3-447-03533-1.