The Intriguing History of Turkish – Learning Turkish 101
Learning Turkish is not an easy feat, especially if you expect it to be similar to other languages spoken in the region. What makes this language so unique? To answer this question one has to dive deeper into the intricate history of Turkish.
Let’s explore all the different stages in the history of Turkish that led to the emergence of modern Turkish that is currently spoken in the world.
The Early History of Turkish
The Turkish language, also known as Türkçe, is a member of the Turkic language family. It is the official language of Turkey and is spoken by over 80 million people worldwide. The history of the language is a fascinating one that spans over a millennium with influences from various regions and occurrences.
The earliest records of the history of Turkish can be traced back to the 6th century CE when the Gokturks, a nomadic people who lived in what is now Mongolia and Siberia, used a runic script to write Old Turkic. The Gokturks were one of the first Turkic peoples to establish a powerful empire, which lasted from the 6th to the 8th century CE.
The next significant period in the history of the Turkish language was during the 9th and 10th centuries CE when the Seljuk Turks emerged as a powerful force in Central Asia. The Seljuks adopted the Arabic script and developed a form of Turkish that was heavily influenced by Arabic and Persian. This form of Turkish became known as Middle Turkic.
In the 11th century CE, the Seljuks conquered Persia and established the Great Seljuk Empire. During this time, Persian became the dominant language of the empire, and Turkish was relegated to a secondary status. However, Turkish continued to be spoken by the Seljuk Turks and their subjects, and it continued to evolve and develop.
In the 13th century CE, the Mongol Empire conquered the Great Seljuk Empire, and Turkish became even more widespread as the Mongols employed Turks in administrative positions throughout their empire.
This period also saw the emergence of a new form of Turkish known as Chagatai. Chagatai was heavily influenced by Persian and became the dominant language of Central Asia for several centuries, also playing an important part in the history of Turkish.
The Ottoman Empire, which was founded in the 14th century CE, played a significant role in the history of Turkish and its development. The Ottomans adopted the Arabic script and used it to write Ottoman Turkish, which was a form of Turkish that was heavily influenced by Arabic and Persian. It soon became the language of the Ottoman court and the elite.
In the 19th century CE, the Ottoman Empire began to experience significant political and social changes. The empire was in decline, and there was a growing sense of nationalism among its diverse population.
This period also saw the emergence of a new form of Turkish known as New Turkish. New Turkish was a simplified form of Ottoman Turkish that was intended to be more accessible to the general population. It removed much of the Arabic and Persian vocabulary and replaced it with words of Turkish origin.
The Modern History of Turkish
In the early 20th century CE, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, embarked on a series of reforms aimed at modernizing and westernizing Turkey. As part of these reforms, Atatürk introduced a new version of the Turkish language known as Modern Turkish.
Modern Turkish was based on the Latin alphabet and was intended to be even more accessible to the general population. It replaced many of the complex grammatical structures of Ottoman Turkish with a simpler system, making it easier to learn and use.
This sowed the seeds for many of the foreign roots of Turkish to be incorporated into the language. Over time, the influence of Latin and specifically French became prominent in many fields relating to science and the arts.
Today, Turkish is the official language of Turkey and is also spoken in other countries, including Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Iraq, and Syria. It is a beautifully complex language with a rich history and a fascinating evolution.
While it has undergone significant changes over the centuries from its beginnings as a runic script used by the Gokturks to its current status as the official language of Turkey, it remains an important part of the cultural identity of the Turkish people.
If you are interested in learning more on the history of Turkish, while learning the language in full, a great way to start is by picking the right language school for you. Wherever you are in Turkey or the world, our experts are here to help you get on the fast track to becoming fluent. Contact us now to get more information about our services!