The Turkic language of Kyrgyzstan, spoken by about 2 500 000 people there and smaller numbers in neighbouring countries. There are also a million Russian-speakers and half a million Uzbek-speakers in the country.

Many senior officials speak only Russian; in 2000 President Askar Akayev passed a literacy test in Kyrgyz as a condition for being able to stand again for election, but this new requirement was a controversial measure perceived as excluding his opponents. The official name of the country is now the Kyrgyz Republic, a change (from Republic of Kyrgyzstan) that was resented by the Russian minority.

The name is also spelt as Kirghiz and Kirgiz. In all cases the vowel is the Cyrillic letter bI, corresponding to the Turkish high semi-back vowel I.

What's now known as Kyrgyz has historically also been known as Kara-Kyrgyz, or Black Kyrgyz, and the plain name was applied to what is now known as Kazakh. The two are closely related, as are all the Turkic languages.

The country contains a group called the Ichkilik, who speak Kyrgyz but are not ethnically Kyrgyz.

Originally written in Arabic script, a romanization based on Turkish was adopted in 1928, replaced by a Cyrillic script in 1940. There has been a tendency to restore romanization since the breakup of the USSR, but the last I've seen this not happened for Kyrgyz yet.

The literary language is based on the northern dialect, which is influenced by Kazakh and Mongolian. The southern dialects are more influenced by Persian, Tajik, and Uzbek.

Like all Turkic languages it is SOV, agglutinative, and postpositional, and has vowel harmony.

I once read (but cannot now back it up) that it has the unusual property that stressed vowels are more central than unstressed ones. So also do some dialects of Lebanese Arabic.