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the official language of Turkey, belonging to the Turkic branch of the Altaic family
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the language of the Turks; formerly called Osmanli. Turkish is the official language of the Republic of Turkey, and it is also spoken in the eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans. There are approximately 40 million speakers of Turkish (1975, estimate).

Turkish belongs to the Oghuz group of Turkic languages and has two main dialect groups. The western, or Danube Turkish, group includes the Adakale, Adrianople, Bosnian, and Macedonian dialects. The eastern Anatolian group includes the Aydin, Izmir, Karaman, Konya, and Sivas dialects. This second group also includes the Cyprian dialect and the Ankara urban dialect; the latter provided the basis for the modern norms of the Turkish literary language.

Turkish shares a number of features with other Turkic languages. The phonology is marked by vowel harmony and consonant assimilation, and the morphology is governed by agglutination in word formation and inflection. The formation of word combinations and sentences is determined by a fixed order of elements. Turkish shares a core vocabulary with other Turkic languages.

The literary language began developing in the mid-19th century, replacing the Osmanli literary language, which included a great many Arabic and Persian loan words. Literary Turkish acquired its modern norms between the 1930’s and 1950’s. The first written texts in Turkish date from the 13th century. Turkish was written in Arabic script until 1928, when the Latin alphabet was introduced.


Kononov, A. N. Grammatika sovremennogo turetskogo literaturnogo iazyka. Moscow-Leningrad, 1956.
Deny, J. Grammaire de la langue turque (dialecte osmanli). Paris, 1921.
Dilaçar, A. Türk diline genel bir bakis.. Ankara, 1964.
Türkçe sözlük, 6th ed. Ankara, 1974.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Although this view seems warranted in terms of the state's primary ideological emphasis on Turkishness, it also appears that this approach "reduces (the national historical narrative) to the migration of the Turks from Central Asia and their spread into the world".
He said that the BDP has no objections to the word Turk or Turkishness being used in the constitution, adding that they only wanted assurances for the free expression of other ethnic identities as well.
Under the AKP, Turkishness was not meant to be an empty shell, which was why it needed an Islamic identity.
Dink resorted to the ECHR a week before he was killed, asking the court to reserve his imprisonment sentence saying that "he had not insulted Turkishness." After the attack which killed Dink, his family filed a lawsuit saying that "the state could not protect Dink." Turkey sent a defense file to the cases in which it said, "Dink provoked people and he did not ask to be protected."
After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and its Sunni Caliphate following World War-I, Ataturk's secularism defined "Turkishness" as a national identity which many argue that it had never before existed.
While many Turks view Turkishness as multiethnic, Kurds tend to view it as an ethnic category that has led to the denial of the Kurds' own identity since the beginning of the republic.
But language - and linguistic and cultural identity - has often been an explosive issue in modern Turkey, where many Turkish speakers view any diversification of Turkey's "Turkishness" as a threat to the integrity of the nation state.
According to Turkish law, writing and discussing the Armenian Genocide is an "insult to Turkishness" and a crime, he said.
The major reason for this preponderant need is that "Turkishness," although defined by citizenship and claimed to embrace people from all ethnic and religious groups who happen to be tied to Turkey as citizens, is only reserved for Sunni Turks in practice.
Ataturk encouraged his new republic to jump over the decadent Ottoman centuries and claim connection with the 'purer' Turkishness of their central Asian origins.
Tim Hancock, UK campaigns director for Amnesty International, said: "The law is routinely used to suppress free speech in Turkey, through Article 301 that criminalises 'insulting Turkishness'.
They also oppose Turkey's entry into the EU as a threat to 'Turkishness.' What makes this case particularly interesting is that Ergenekon may well be linked to Gladio, a secret, far right underground group created by the US and NATO during the Cold War as a 'stay behind' guerillas to resist Soviet invasion or Communist takeovers.