The official language of Turkey is Modern Turkish which is an evolution of the Ottoman Turkish dialect. The modern incarnation of the language evolved during the 1930s and 1940s when Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey, instituted reforms that would modernize Turkish and replace loan-words from other languages with new Turkish words. This process of upgrading the language created different accents and dialects within different generations of Turkish citizens. Modern Turkish contains 29 letters of the alphabet, and there is also an official Turkish Sign Language. The various dialects of Turkish across the nation are extensive and include Dogu, Eastern Anatolian Turkish, Edirne, Guneydogu, and Kibris Turkcesi to name a few.

The population of Turkey is around 79.5 million and over 66.7 million (84 percent) of these citizens speak a form of Turkish as their first language. Turkish is also the official language of Cyprus and Northern Cyprus, as well as having a broad base of speakers in countries such as Greece, Macedonia, and Romania. The language is also mutually-intelligible with Azerbaijani, Gagauz, and Qashqai, among other Turkic languages. The Constitution of Turkey prohibits any educational institution from teaching in a mother tongue other than Turkish.

The pronunciation of Turkish words is somewhat similar to Arabic and will take time to master. Hello in Turkish is pronounced "mar-ha-ba", yes is pronounced "ev-et", and to ask how much something costs, just say"nay kad-ar". The Turkish people are amicable, and an honest attempt at the most simple phrases will elicit a smile from many locals. If all else fails, the phrase "Turk-jeh bill-mi-yor-um", means I do not speak Turkish.

Minority languages in Turkey include Kurdish, spoken by 12 percent of the population, Arabic, spoken by around 1.4 percent, and Zazaki, which is spoken by about 1 percent of people in Turkey. The primary foreign languages of Turkey are English, French, and German, with English being the main language for international business and diplomatic relations. All three of these languages are offered in high schools and universities, and Arabic studies are also provided to students wishing to study it.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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