Turkish 101

Turkish is natively spoken by the Turkish people in Turkey and by the Turkish diaspora in some 30 other countries. In particular, Turkish-speaking minorities exist in countries that formerly (in whole or part) belonged to the Ottoman Empire, such as Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece (primarily in Western Thrace), the Republic of Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia. More than two million Turkish speakers live in Germany, and there are significant Turkish-speaking communities in France, the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Due to the cultural assimilation of Turkish immigrants in host countries, not all ethnic Turkish immigrants speak the language with native fluency.

The number of native speakers in Turkey is about 46 million, corresponding to about 90–93 percent of the population. There are roughly another 10 million native speakers worldwide. Turkish is spoken as a first or second language by almost all of Turkey's residents, with Kurdish making up most of the remainder (about 3,950,000 as estimated in 1980). However, even most linguistic minorities in Turkey are bilingual, speaking Turkish as a second language to levels of native fluency.

Official Status

Turkish is the official language of Turkey and is one of the official languages of Cyprus. It also has official (but not primary) status in the Prizren District of Kosovo and several municipalities of the Republic of Macedonia, depending on the concentration of Turkish-speaking local population.

In Turkey, the regulatory body for Turkish is the Turkish Language Association ( Türk Dil Kurumu or TDK), which was founded in 1932 under the name Türk Dili Tetkik Cemiyeti ("Society for Research on the Turkish Language"). The Turkish Language Association was influenced by the ideology of linguistic purism: indeed one of its primary tasks was the replacement of loanwords and foreign grammatical constructions with equivalents of Turkish origin. These changes, together with the adoption of the new Turkish alphabet in 1928, shaped the modern Turkish language spoken today. TDK became an independent body in 1951, with the lifting of the requirement that it should be presided over by the Minister of Education. This status continued until August 1983, when it was again made into a governmental body in the constitution of 1982, following the military coup d'état of 1980.

Dialects

Istanbul Turkish is established as the official standard language of Turkey. Dialectal variation persists, in spite of the levelling influence of the standard used in mass media and the Turkish education system since the 1930s. Academically, researchers from Turkey often refer to Turkish dialects as ağız or şive , leading to an ambiguity with the linguistic concept of accent, which is also covered with these same words. Projects investigating Turkish dialects are being carried out by several universities, as well as a dedicated work group of the Turkish Language Association. Work is currently in progress for the compilation and publication of their research as a comprehensive dialect atlas of the Turkish language.

The standard dialect of the Turkish language is İstanbul . Rumelice is spoken by immigrants from Rumelia, and includes the distinct dialects of Deliorman, Dinler, and Adakale, which are influenced by the theoretized Balkan linguistic union. Kıbrıs is the name for Cypriot Turkish and is spoken by the Turkish Cypriots. Edirne is the dialect of Edirne. Ege is spoken in the Aegean region, with its usage extending to Antalya. The nomadic Yörük tribes of the Mediterranean Region of Turkey also have their own dialect of Turkish. This group is not to be confused with the Yuruk nomads of Macedonia, Greece, and European Turkey who speak Balkan Gagauz Turkish.

Güneydoğu is spoken in the southeast, to the east of Mersin. Doğu , a dialect in Eastern Anatolia, has a dialect continuum with Azeri, particularly with Karapapak dialects in some areas. The Central Anatolia region speaks Orta Anadolu . Karadeniz , spoken in the Eastern Black Sea Region and represented primarily by the Trabzon dialect, exhibits substratum influence from Greek in phonology and syntax. Kastamonu is spoken in Kastamonu and its surrounding areas. The Hemşinli dialect, known as Hemşince , is spoken by the eastern group of Hamshenis around Artvin, influenced by Armenian. Karamanlıca is spoken in Greece, where it is also named Kαραμανλήδικα (Karamanlidika). It is the literary standard for Karamanlides.

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