Turkey - Languages



Turkish, which belongs to the Ural-Altaic group, is the official language. In addition to the Roman alphabet, modern Turkish uses the letters ç, g, i (undotted), ö, s¸, and ü, but no q, w, or x. With only minor exceptions, words are spelled phonetically. The language is agglutinative. A 1928 language reform substituted the Roman alphabet for the Arabic script, which had been used by the Turks since their conversion to Islam. During the 1930s there was a state-sponsored effort to rid the language of Arabic and Persian words and grammatical constructions. Turkish grammatical rules are now applied for all words, regardless of origin, though many Persian and Arabic expressions persist. Traditionally, there was a great difference between vernacular Turkish and written Ottoman Turkish, the latter being heavily influenced by Arabic and Persian and almost unintelligible to the mass of Turks. This difference has been almost obliterated, though some regional differences in dialect, particularly in the villages, still make effective communication difficult.

Kurdish and Arabic are also spoken. Kurdish is a language of the Iranian group and is written in Arabic script in Turkey. Two of the three major dialects are spoken in Turkey.

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