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Turkish Language Facts
The Turkish language belongs to the Ural-Altaic group and has an affinity with the Fin - Hungarian languages. Turkish is written with the Latin alphabet and is the language of 90 percent of the population in Turkey. The Caucasus and the Kurdish dialects, Arabic, Greek, Ladino and Armenian are among the other 70 languages spoken in the country. The communities which speak these languages spread from Central Asia towards the east and northeast, and especially to the west. Since ancient times Turkish has influenced the very different languages and dialects of Middle Persian and replaced some of the Indo-European languages from the Caucasus and Anatolia. After the acceptance of Islam, the influences of Arabic and Persian on the Turkish language became evident.
As of around the end of the nineteenth century, contemporary Turkish writing such as the Turkish in Turkey, the Turkish in Azerbaijan and the Turkish in Kazakhstan, based on the Turkish dialects was being formed.
The Turkish language is spread over a large geographical area in Europe and Asia; it is spoken in the Azeri, the Turkmen, the Tartar, the Uzbek, the Baskurti; the Hogay, the Kyrgyz, the Kazakh, the Yakuti, the Guvas, and other dialects. Turkish is the seventh most spoken and widespread language among the average of 4,000 languages spoken in the world today. More than 200 million people speak Turkish.
The Turks, along with using many written languages from the eighth century up until the present, have mostly used the Gokturk, Uigur, Arabic and Latin alphabets. The Turkish spoken in Turkey represents that of the Turkish language group coming from the southwest branch of the Uralic - Altayic language family.
The oldest written records of Turkish are found upon stone monuments in Central Asia, in the Orhun, Yenisey and Talas regions within the boundaries of present day Mongolia, and belong to the years 725, 732 and 735 A.D.
After the republic was founded and national unity was ensured, especially between 1923-1928, the problem of the alphabet was given a lot of attention. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, believed that it was also necessary to benefit from the Western culture in order to attain a contemporary level of civilization in the new Turkey, and with this objective, he ensured the acceptance, in 1928, of the Latin alphabet that had been prepared according to the vocal harmony of Turkish rather than the Arabic alphabet. The 29 lettered Turkish alphabet does not have the X, W, Q but instead has the Ç, Ğ, I, Ö, Ş, Ü letters. More on Turkish lesson page...
The Language Reform continued with the founding by Ataturk, in 1932, of the Turkish Language Research Society with the objective of simplifying and purifying the language. The activities of the Society, which became the Turkish Linguistic Association after a period of time, produced positive results and important steps were taken to simplify the Turkish language by purifying it of Arabic and Persian words. Today, the Turkish Linguistic Association continues its activities with a reorganized statute within the structure of the Ataturk Cultural, Linguistic and Historical Higher Council established in 1983. The purification, simplification, enrichment and enhancement of Turkish are among the responsibilities of this organization. The most important result of the positive studies made up until the present related to the Turkish language is the fact that the ratio of the use of Turkish words in the written language, which was 35-40 percent prior to 1932, has reached around 75-80 percent at the present. This fact is the most important proof that the Language Reform made by Ataturk became the property of the public.