Ataturk Turkish Language Reform

Turkish Language


In this post, I would like to share some background information about the Turkish language. As a Turkish Language Instructor, I often find students at the advanced levels of Turkish classes who have no clue about the language they are studying. While it is not absolutely necessary to know these facts to be able to speak or understand Turkish, knowing them might be of help while studying Turkish. 

Having a background in Turkish as a language will help a learner make sense of the sentence structure and lexicon of Turkish. Often times, English speakers find it hard to grasp the Subject+Object+Verb order, as it vastly differs from the Subject+Verb+Object order as it's seen in English and many other languages in the world. Additionally, I realize that learners find it interesting that there are many words with the same meaning in Turkish, such as, seyretmek (to watch) and izlemek (to watch). This diversity in Turkish comes from loan words from Arabic, Persian and French. 

Here are 10 facts about the Turkish language: 

  1. Turkish is one of the major languages in the world. For example, there are more Turkish speakers than Italian speakers in the world.

  2. It is spoken by over 77 million people. It’s the official language of Turkey.

  3. Turkish is the most commonly spoken Turkic language. Some of the other languages belonging to this family are Azeri, Kazak, Kirghiz and Turkmen, to name a few.

  4. Turkish is not from the same language family as Arabic and Persian.

  5. There are some words borrowed from these languages but the actual sentence structure and the forming of words are completely different than Arabic or Persian.

  6. Turkish is not from the Indo-European linguistic family, either.

  7. Turkish is not similar to German, Spanish, English or French.

  8. Turkish is from the Southwestern (Altay) branch of the Ural-Altaic linguistic family.

  9. Turkish is linguistically similar to Japanese, Korean and Hungarian.

  10. Ottoman Turkish is not a different language. It was a variety of Turkish that was used in the Ottoman Empire. Ottoman Turkish was written with a modified version of the Arabic Alphabet and its lexicon consisted of Turkish, Arabic, and Persian.