Language Learning: Turkish

This month we explore Turkish in our ongoing Language Learning series.

Turkish is the major member of the Altaic language group, which includes the language families of Turkic, Mongolian, and Manchu-Tungus.

Turkish has been spoken in the area comprising Turkey since the 13th century. Ottoman Turkish was the written language of the Ottoman Empire. Today’s modern Turkish is the descendant of Ottoman Turkish. After the founding of the Turkish republic in 1923, the Arabic script was replaced by the Latin alphabet (1928). An essentially new literary language emerged, and the older one became obsolete.

Turkish has eight vowels and 20 consonants, and is based on the dialect of Anatolian, which was spoken in Istanbul. Modern Turkish uses a Roman-based writing system. Prior to the reforms in the 1920s, Turkish was written in the Arabic script.

About 75 million people speak Turkish in Turkey as their primary language. Turkish is the official language of Turkey, and 90% of the population speak Turkish as their primary language. The literacy rate in Turkey is about 90%.

Other larger communities of Turkish speakers are located in the Balkans, Caucasus, Cyprus, Middle East, and Western Europe. There is a community of speakers in the United States.

Turkish is a language that is included in our GSA contract to provide language services to federal, state, and local government agencies in the US. Last year we completed more than 100 translation projects with Turkish for clients.

Sources: University of Pennsylvania; BBC (image); Britannica