2002 renaming of Turkmen months and days of week

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Turkmen students, wearing traditional embroidered caps, speak on November 17, 2010 during the opening of the annual oil and gas conference, bringing together Western energy executives and the Turkmen leadership, in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat. The Central Asian nation of Turkmenistan, which sits atop the world’s fourth-biggest natural gas reserves, is looking to diversify energy supplies and is pushing to revive plans to build a pipeline to deliver gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India. AFP PHOTO / VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO (Photo credit should read VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO/AFP/Getty Images)


On August 10, 2002, the government of Turkmenistan adopted a law to rename all the months and most of the days of week. The names were chosen according to Turkmen national symbols, as described in the Ruhnama, a book written by Saparmurat Niyazov, Turkmenistan’s first and only President for Life. According to Arto Halonen’s documentary film The Shadow of the Holy Book, Turkish businessman Ahmet Çalık came up with the idea to rename the months, as he was trying to befriend Niyazov in order to expand his business in the country.

After the law was passed the new names were used in all Turkmen state-owned media. Publications in languages other than Turkmen often use the new names too, especially those that were targeted at Russian-speaking citizens of Turkmenistan, with the old name sometimes written in brackets. The old month names were still used in popular speech, however.[1]

Four years after the change, Niyazov died in 2006. On April 23, 2008 it was reported that the cabinet of ministers of Turkmenistan discussed restoring the old names of the months and days of week.[2] The old names were finally restored in July 2008.[1]

The original month names were taken from the Russian language.

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