Oghuz languages

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This article is about a major branch of the Turkic language family. For other uses, see Oghuz (disambiguation).
Southwestern Turkic
Linguistic classification: Turkic
  • Oghuz
  • Turkish
  • Azerbaijani
  • Turkmen
  • Southern Oghuz
  • Salar
Glottolog: oghu1243  (Oghuz + Kipchak + Uzbek)[1]

The Oghuz languages, a major branch of the Turkic language family, are spoken by more than 150 million people in an area spanning from the Balkans to China.

The term[edit]

The term Oghuz is applied to the Southwestern Branch of Turkic languages such as Turkish, Azerbaijani and Turkmen which are mainly spoken in Turkey, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iranian Azerbaijan, Turkmeneli, and Syria.[2] In the 8th century, the Oghuz tribes migrated to Central Asia from the Altai Mountains, and then they started to spread out through Central Asia and Khwarezm to the Middle East and Balkans. With time, the name "Oghuz" was replaced by the names "Turkmen", "Seljuk", "Azerbaijani", and later "Ottoman Turk".[3]


Knowledge of either of the two major Western Oghuz languages, Turkish or Azerbaijani in Europe

The Oghuz languages may be broken down into three main groups, based on geography and shared features:

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 heavily influenced by the Oghuz languages.

The extinct Pecheneg language is probably Oghuz, but as it is poorly documented, it is difficult to further classify it within the Oghuz family.[4]

Linguistic features[edit]

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.

Shared features[edit]

  • 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)

Unique features[edit]

  • Voicing of stops before front vowels (e.g. gör- < kör- "to see")
  • Loss of q/ɣ after ɯ/u (e.g. quru < quruq "dry", sarɯ < sarɯɣ "yellow")
  • Change in form of participial -gan- to -an-

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Oghuz + Kipchak + Uzbek". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  2. ^ Syed Muzammiluddin, TURKIC LANGUAGES AND LEXICAL SIMILARITIES OF TURKISH AND URDU - An Etymological Approach Online Edition[dead link]
  3. ^ Barbara A. West, Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania, Infobase Publishing, 19 May 2010, p.839, 831
  4. ^ Баскаков, Н. А. Тюркские языки, Москва 1960, с. 126-131.
  • 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.