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Turkmen is a member of the East Oghuz branch of the Turkic family of languages; its closest relatives being Anatolian Turkish and Azerbaijani Turkish, with which it shares a relatively high degree of mutual intelligibility.

Turkmen has vowel harmony, is agglutinative, and has no grammatical gender. Word order is subject–object–verb.

Written Turkmen today is based on the Teke (Tekke) dialect. The other dialects are Nohurly, Ýomud, Änewli, Hasarly, Nerezim, Gökleň, Salyr, Saryk, Ärsary and Çowdur. The Russian dialect is Trukhmen. The Teke dialect is sometimes (especially in Afghanistan) referred to as "Chagatai", but like all Turkmen dialects it reflects only a limited influence from classical Chagatai.

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