Surname Law

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The Surname Law of the Republic of Turkey was adopted on June 21, 1934.[1] The law requires all citizens of Turkey to adopt the use of surnames. Turkey's Christian and Jewish citizens were already using surnames, but Muslims generally did not use Western-style surnames. The Surname Law of 1934 changed this. The surname was generally selected by the elderly people of the family and could be any Turkish word (or a permitted word for families belonging to official minority groups: Jews, Greeks and Armenians).

Muslims in the Ottoman Empire carried titles such as "Pasha", "Hoca", "Bey", "Hanım", "Efendi", etc. These titles either defined their formal profession (such as Pasha, Hoca, etc.) or their informal status within the society (such as Bey, Hanım, Efendi, etc.). Ottoman prime ministers (Sadrazam/Vezir-î Azam or Grand Vizier), ministers (Nazır/Vezir or Vizier) and other high-ranking civil servants also carried the title Pasha. Retired generals/admirals or high-ranking civil servants continued to carry this title in civilian life. A "Pasha" did not become a "Bey" after retiring from active military or political service.

The surname law also forbade certain surnames that contained connotations of foreign cultures, nations, tribes, and religions.[2][3][4][5] As a result, many Jews, Georgians, Greeks, Armenians and Kurds were forced to adopt last names of a more Turkish rendition, [2] sometimes directly translating their original surnames, or otherwise just replacing markers such as Pontic Greek '-ides' (son of) with Turkish '-oğlu'.

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References[edit]

  1. ^ 1934 in history, Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
  2. ^ a b İnce, Başak. Citizenship and identity in Turkey : from Atatürk's republic to the present day. London: I.B. Tauris. ISBN 9781780760261. 
  3. ^ Aslan, Senem. "Incoherent State: The Controversy over Kurdish Naming in Turkey". European Journal of Turkish Studies. Retrieved 16 January 2013. "the Surname Law was meant to foster a sense of Turkishness within society and prohibited surnames that were related to foreign ethnicities and nations" 
  4. ^ Suny, edited by Ronald Grigor; Goçek,, Fatma Müge; Naimark, Norman M. A question of genocide : Armenians, and Turks at the end of the Ottoman Empire. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195393743. 
  5. ^ Toktas, Sule (2005). "Citizenship and Minorities: A Historical Overview of Turkey’s Jewish Minority". Journal of Historical Sociology 18 (4). Retrieved 7 January 2013.