Languages of Turkey

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Languages of Turkey
Official languages Turkish
Minority languages Kurmanji, Zaza, Arabic, Laz [1]
Main immigrant languages Albanian, Bosnian, Pomak/Bulgarian, Dari, Farsi
Main foreign languages English 17%, German 4%, French 3%[2]
Sign languages Turkish Sign Language
Mardin Sign Language
Common keyboard layouts
Turkish (Q-keyboard) and
Turkish (F-keyboard)

KB Turkey.svg

KB Turkey f yeni.svg

The official language of Turkey is Turkish.

According to Article 42 of the Constitution of Turkey:

No language other than Turkish shall be taught as a mother tongue to Turkish citizens at any institutions of training or education. Foreign languages to be taught in institutions of training and education and the rules to be followed by schools conducting training and education in a foreign language shall be determined by law. The provisions of international treaties are reserved.

This provision has been criticized by Human Rights Watch who claim that ethnic minorities face restrictions in the use of their languages. They further observe that "the Turkish government accepts the language rights of the Jewish, Greek and Armenian minorities as being guaranteed by the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne. But the government claims that these are Turkey's only minorities, and that any talk of minority rights beyond this is just separatism".[3] The Ministry of Education has lately included Kurdish, Abkhazian, Adyghe and Laz languages to the academic programme of the basic schools as optional classes from the fifth year on.[4]

Ethnologue lists many minority languages in Turkey some of which are spoken by large numbers of people.

Mother Tongue in Turkey[5]
Mother Tongue Percentage
Turkish 84.54
Kurmanji Kurdish 11.97
Arabic 1.38
Zaza 1.01
Other Turkic languages 0.28
Balkan languages 0.23
Laz 0.12
Circassian 0.11
Armenian 0.07
Caucasian languages 0.07
Greek 0.06
West European languages 0.03
Jewish languages 0.01
Romani 0.01
Other 0.12
Languages of Turkey[6][7]
Language Numbers Classification Comment
Turkish 46,300,000 (1987) Turkic (Oghuz) Numbers are certainly higher now
Northern Kurdish 8,735,108 Indo-European (Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western) also known as Kurmanji
Dimli 1,000,000 (1998/1999) Indo-European (Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western) another name of the Zaza language
Kabardian 1,000,000 (2005) North Caucasian languages (aka Caucasic)
South Azerbaijani 530,000 Turkic (Oghuz)
North Mesopotamian Arabic 400,000 (1992) Semitic languages (Arabic)
Balkan Gagauz Turkish 327,000 (1993) Turkic (Oghuz)
Bulgarian 300,000 (2001) Indo-European (Slavic)
Adyghe 278,000 (2000) North Caucasian languages
Kirmanjki 140,000 Indo-European (Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western) another name of the Zaza language
Armenian 40,000 (1980) Indo-European (Armenian languages)
Georgian 40,000 (1980) South Caucasian languages
Laz 30,000 (1980) South Caucasian languages
Domari 28,500 (2000) Indo-European (Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan)
Balkan Romani 25,000 Indo-European (Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan)
Serbian 20,000 (1980) Indo-European (Slavic)
Tosk Albanian 15,000 (1980) Indo-European (Albanian)
Abaza 10,000 (1995) North Caucasian languages
Ladino 8,000 (1976) Indo-European (Romance) spoken by the descendants of Jewish refugees from Spain
Pontic 4,540 (1965) Indo-European (Greek) spoken on the shores of the Black Sea, most speakers were moved to Greece in the 1920s
Greek 4,000 (1993) Indo-European (Greek) most speakers were moved to Greece in the 1920s
Abkhaz 4,000 (1980) North Caucasian languages
Turoyo 3,000 (1994) Semitic languages (Aramaic)
Crimean Tatar 2,000 Turkic (Oghuz) actual number is unknown
Southern Uzbek 1,980 (1982) Turkic (Uyghuric)
Kyrgyz 1,140 (1982) Turkic (Western) (aka Kirghiz)
Hértevin less than 1,000 (1999) Semitic languages (Aramaic)
Turkmen 920 (1982) Turkic (Oghuz)
Kazakh 600 (1982) Turkic (Western)
Uyghur 500 (1981) Turkic (Kayseri)
Kumyk few villages Turkic (Western)
Kazan Tatar handful Turkic (Western)
Osetin ?? Indo-European (Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Eastern)
Turkish Sign Language ? Sign languages Numbers are unknown though likely to number in the thousands
Syriac extinct Aramaic liturgical language
Ubykh extinct North Caucasian became extinct in the 1990s

History[edit]

Turkey has historically been the home to many now extinct languages. These include the Hittite language, the earliest Indo-European language for which written evidence exists (circa 1600 BCE to 1100 BCE when the Hittite Empire existed). The other Anatolian languages included Luwian and later Lycian, Lydian and Milyan. All these languages are believed to have become extinct at the latest around the 1st century BCE due to the Hellenization of Anatolia which led to Greek in a variety of dialects becoming the common language.

Urartian belonging to the Hurro-Urartian language family existed in eastern Anatolia around Lake Van. It existed as the language of the kingdom of Urartu from about the 9th century BCE until the 6th century. Hattian is attested in Hittite ritual texts but is not related to the Hittite language or to any other known language; it dates from the 2nd millennium BCE.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ {{cite book, Dari, Farsi | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples - Turkey : Overview | publisher = Minority Rights Group International | year = 2007 | location = | pages = | url = http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/4954ce3fc.html | doi = | id = | isbn = }}
  2. ^ Europeans and Their Languages
  3. ^ Questions and Answers: Freedom of Expression and Language Rights in Turkey. New York: Human Rights Watch. April 2002. 
  4. ^ http://www.ntvmsnbc.com/id/25466180
  5. ^ KONDA 2007
  6. ^ Lewis, M. Paul (ed.) (2009). "Ethnologue report for Turkey (Europe)". Ethnologue: Languages of the World. SIL International. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  7. ^ Lewis, M. Paul (ed.) (2009). "Ethnologue report for Turkey (Asia)". Ethnologue: Languages of the World. SIL International. Retrieved 2009-09-08.