Turkish language reform essay


Published on

Published in: Education, Technology
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Turkish language reform essay

  1. 1. TecirliogluSiir TecirliogluMs. StandleyEnglish A22 February 2011 Turkish Language Reform Essay Turkish is one of the most ancient languages in the world. It belongs to the Ural-Altaicfamily of languages.1 The Ural-Altaic family comes from Central Asia. This suggests thatTurkish has its roots in that area. The first written records of Turkish come from 1,200 years ago.2 Turkish is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world—21st widely spoken languageaccording to ethnologue.com.3 4There are more than 70 million native speakers of Turkish. It ispopular over a large geographical are in Europe and Asia. 1 According to onlineturkish.com, it isspoken in Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Cyprus, Mongolia, Iran and Iraq. The rise ofthe Ottoman Empire has influenced the language of the Balkans. Over a million speakers ofTurkish are found in Bulgaria, Greece, and Macedonia. There are about 3 million speakers inGermany as well as half a million in other European countries. 1 The question is, ―What were themain events that affected the Turkish language in the past few centuries?‖ There are three maintopics to investigate in order to answer this question; these are related to the Ottoman Empire,the Republic of Turkey, and the events in the recent history.1 onlineturkish.com2 thelanguagechronicle.com/3 Encarta Dictionary.4 ethnologue.com 1
  2. 2. Tecirlioglu The Ottoman Empire was one of the largest empires in history. It reached the Balkansand Arabic countries. Therefore, there are many influences on the Ottoman Turkish from othercountries (it influenced other countries’ languages as well). Ottoman Turkish was a mixture ofArabic, Persian and Turkish. Arabic was the language of religion and religious law which playedan important role in the Ottoman Empire. Persian was the language of art, literature anddiplomacy. Turkish was the language of the society in daily life.5 The problem with the mixturewas that it caused difficulties in spelling and writing. They were from three different languagefamilies. Turkish is from Ural-Altaic; Persian is from Indo-European and Arabic is from Semitic.5 The difference between these language families was that their pronunciation, and grammarwere very far from each other. 5 Even in the modern day Turkish, called Istanbul Turkish, thereare words from the Ottoman Era. For example, the Turkish word ―dert‖ is derived from thePersian word ―dard.‖ Although their exact meaning slightly differs, both can be used to explainthe same feeling—they both mean ―problem, trouble pain‖. There are also words that have beenchanged from Ottoman Turkish to a more pure Turkish by the TDK (Turk Dil Kurumu—TurkishLanguage Association) which is an organization in the Turkish Republic that is responsible forpurifying the Turkish language. In Ottoman Turkish, the word ―müselles‖ means triangle, but inmodern day Turkish, it is called ―üçgen‖. Another example is ―tayyare‖ which means plane, butmost people do not use (do not even know) that word. Instead they use the word, ―uçak‖. 6 7Theword ―nispet‖ means ratio in Ottoman Turkish. But it has been changed to ―oran‖ to fit themodern Turkish language rules. The final example is the word ―şimal‖ in Ottoman Turkishwhıch ıs replaced as ―kuzey‖ ın modern Turkısh—the words mean ―north‖.85 countrystudies.us6 onlineturkish.com7 thelanguagechronicle.com8 en.wikipedia.org 2
  3. 3. Tecirlioglu With the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Language revolution began in 1928 with the Arabic numbers beingreplaced by Western equivalents.9 In 1932, Ataturk formed the Turkish Language Association(TDK) in order to replace loanwords of Arabic, and Persian origins with Turkish equivalents.9The aim was to create an easier language to read and write.10 There were two steps to achievethis aim. The first one was to create a new alphabet and the second one was to purify thevocabulary.10 As soon as these were created, Ataturk travelled throughout the country in order toteach the new language in schools, villages and other public places.9 The new Latin alphabet hadTurkish vowels and consonants more clearly than the Arabic alphabet had done. This was anadvantage for those who were learning the new language. Why did Ataturk take the languagereformation so seriously? According to dildernegi.org, he believed that a rich language (in termsof vocabulary and word definitions) would make it easier to communicate and share thoughts.The language reform was a sudden change in Turkish language. It was better in the sense of thedifficulty of learning and using the language. The literacy level in Turkey rose to 48.4% amongmales and 20.7 among females. 11 How is Turkish doing in the recent history? During the late 19th century, the languagereform became a political issue. Turkish nationalists thought the reform was dividing the9 Turkish Language Association. "Türk Dil Kurumu - Tarihçe (History of the Turkish LanguageAssociation)". Archived from the original on March 16, 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-18.(Turkish)10 countrystudies.us11 dildernegi.org.tr 3
  4. 4. Tecirlioglupeople.12 This is true between the old generations and the newer ones who communicated indifferent versions of Turkish—Istanbul Turkish created by Ataturk versus the OttomanTurkish.12 In 1950s, some of the Arabic words began to reappear in newspapers and somegovernment publications.12 However, the opposition to the language reform was soon over andIstanbul Turkish continued to grow. Another point to consider from these results is the long-termeffects of the language reform. The outcome is mixed. On one hand, it divided the older andyounger generations. On the other hand, it unified the different classes remaining from theOttoman society. It also made the country gain more confidence as a result of having its ownlanguage to reflect its own thoughts and feelings.12 The TDK is still continuing its work in creating new Turkish words. This is the result ofthe development of information technology and terms related to this area. For example, a pureequivalent for the word ―online‖ doesn’t exist in Turkish. We use the word ―cevrimici‖ for―online,‖ but this word doesn’t fit the Turkish language rules. This is one of the areas of concernfor the TDK. They have been criticized for adding artificial and contrived words into Turkish.13Although the opposition to the language reform was over in the beginning of 2000s, it eventuallyrevived. In conclusion, the language reform is still creating political issues in Turkey.12 See Lewis (2002): 2–3 for the first two translations. For the third see Bedi Yazıcı. "Nutuk: Özgün metinve çeviri (Atatürks Speech: original text and translation)". Retrieved 2007-09-28.(Turkish)13 http://en.wikipedia.org 4
  5. 5. Tecirlioglu Work Cited"Turkish Language." en.wikipedia.org. N.p., 31 Jan. 2011. Web. 2 Feb. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_language>."Language Reform: From Ottoman to Turkish ." countrystudies.us. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Feb. 2011. <http://countrystudies.us/turkey/25.htm>."TÜRKÇE VE DİL DEVRİMİ." dildernegi.org.tr. N.p., 13 Mar. 2007. Web. 2 Feb. 2011. <http://www.dildernegi.org.tr/TR/ BelgeGoster.aspx?F6E10F8892433CFFAAF6AA849816B2EF01E9BE68C047FEF5>."History Of Turkish Language ." onlineturkish.com. N.p., 2002. Web. 2 Feb. 2011. <http://www.onlineturkish.com/history.asp>."List of languages by number of native speakers ." en.wikipedia.org. N.p., 2 Feb. 2011. Web. 2 Feb. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_languages_by_number_of_native_speakers>."History of the Turkish Language." thelanguagechronicle.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Feb. 2011. <http://thelanguagechronicle.com/history-of-the-turkish-language/>.Turkish Language Association. "Türk Dil Kurumu - Tarihçe (History of the Turkish Language Association)". Archived from the original on March 16, 2007. Retrieved 2007-03- 18.(Turkish)See Lewis (2002): 2–3 for the first two translations. For the third see Bedi Yazıcı. "Nutuk: Özgün metin ve çeviri (Atatürks Speech: original text and translation)". Retrieved 2007- 09-28.(Turkish)"Turkish language". Encarta Dictionary. Retrieved 11 February 2010. 5