The Turkic languages are a language family of at least 35 documented languages, spoken by the Turkic peoples of Eurasia from Eastern Europe and Southern Europe to Central Asia, East Asia, North Asia (Siberia), and Western Asia. The Turkic languages originated in a region of East Asia spanning from Mongolia to Northwest China, where Proto-Turkic is thought to have been spoken, from where they expanded to Central Asia and farther west during the first millennium. They are characterized as a dialect continuum.
|c. 200 million|
|Linguistic classification||One of the world's primary language families|
The distribution of the Turkic languages
Turkic languages are spoken natively by some 200 million people, and the total number of Turkic speakers, including second language speakers, is over 230 million. The Turkic language with the greatest number of speakers is Turkish, spoken mainly in Anatolia and the Balkans; its native speakers account for about 38% of all Turkic speakers.
Characteristic features such as vowel harmony, agglutination, subject-object-verb order, and lack of grammatical gender, are almost universal within the Turkic family. There is a high degree of mutual intelligibility, upon moderate exposure, among the various Oghuz languages, which include Turkish, Azerbaijani, Turkmen, Qashqai, Chaharmahali Turkic, Gagauz, and Balkan Gagauz Turkish, as well as Oghuz-influenced Crimean Tatar. Although methods of classification vary, the Turkic languages are usually considered to be divided equally into two branches: Oghur, the only surviving member of which is Chuvash, and Common Turkic, which includes all other Turkic languages including the Oghuz sub-branch.
Turkic languages show many similarities with the Mongolic, Tungusic, Koreanic, and Japonic languages. These similarities have led some linguists to propose an Altaic language family, though this proposal is widely rejected by Western historical linguists. Similarities with the Uralic languages even caused these families to be regarded as one for a long time under the Ural-Altaic hypothesis. However, there has not been sufficient evidence to conclude the existence of either of these macrofamilies, the shared characteristics between the languages being attributed presently to extensive prehistoric language contact.