May 3, 1895
|Died||September 12, 1979 (aged 84)|
Agop Dilâçar (Armenian: Յակոբ Մարթայեան Hagop Martayan, Istanbul, May 22, 1895 – Istanbul, September 12, 1979) was a Turkish-Armenian linguist who specialized in Turkic languages and the first Secretary General and head specialist of the Turkish Language Association. He was proficient in 22 languages, and in addition to Armenian and Turkish, he knew English, Greek, Spanish, Azerbaijani, Latin, German, Russian and Bulgarian.
Of Armenian descent, Agop Dilâçar was born Hagop Vahan Martayan in Constantinople in 1895. His father was Vahan Martayan and his mother Eugenie Martayan (née Sarafian). He studied English in the local American School editing the school's publication "School News" (1907). In 1910 he studied at the Robert College where he also learned German, Latin and Classical Greek, graduating from Robert College in 1915. After completing his studies, he served as an officer in the Ottoman Army's Second Division in Diyarbakır. He was awarded for his bravery and continued serving in the Ottoman Army reserves. Because of his knowledge of English, he worked as a Turkish Army interpreter for the British prisoners of war held after the Siege of Kut south of Baghdad. He was arrested and escorted to Damascus for alleged secret extrajudicial contacts with the British prisoners. In Damascus, he was introduced for the first time to Mustafa Kemal Pasha (later known as Atatürk). Mustafa Kemal Pasha was then the Commander of the Ottoman Army's Seventh Division. Mustafa Kemal was impressed by Martayan's intelligence and secured a pardon for him and took him into his headquarters.
In 1918, Martayan moved to Lebanon, where he became the headmaster of Beirut's Sourp Nshan Armenian National School. In Lebanon, he established Louys, an Armenian periodical (in Armenian Լոյս, meaning The Light). In 1919, he returned to Istanbul where he worked as a lecturer of English at the Robert College. In 1922, he married Méliné Martayan and the couple moved to Bulgaria where he taught Ottoman Turkish and ancient East languages at Sofia University in Sofia, Bulgaria. In Sofia he also published the Armenian weekly Mshagouyt (in Armenian Մշակոյթ, meaning Culture) and the monthly Armenian periodical Rahvira (in Armenian Ռահվիրայ).
He published a study of Turkish language in Istanbul's Arevelk (in Armenian Արեւելք, meaning The East). A translated copy of the article gained the attention of Mustafa Kemal Pasha who invited him to return to Turkey where he lectured in Faculty of Languages, History and Geography.
On September 22, 1932, he was invited as a linguist to the First Turkish Language Congress held in Dolmabahçe Palace supervised by Atatürk, the founder and first president of the Republic of Turkey, together with two other linguists of Armenian ethnicity, İstepan Gurdikyan and Kevork Simkeşyan. He continued his work and research on the Turkish language as the head specialist and Secretary General of the newly founded Turkish Language Association in Ankara. Following the issue of the Law on Family Names in 1934, Mustafa Kemal Pasha suggested him the surname Dilaçar (literally meaning language opener), which he gladly accepted. Nevertheless, he continued to use the surname Martayan to sign his articles in the Armenian language. In return, Agop Martayan openly proposed the name Atatürk to Mustafa Kemal Pasha in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.
He taught history and language at Ankara University between 1936 and 1951. He also was the head adviser of the Türk Ansiklopedisi (Turkish Encyclopedia), between 1942 and 1960. He held his position and continued his research in linguistics at the Turkish Language Association until his death on 12 September 1979, in Istanbul.
In addition to his work in Turkish language, he also published in Istanbul's Armenian media, in particular with the Armenian daily Marmara (in Armenian Մարմարա).
In 1922, he published his literary work Aratchin Portsutyun (in Armenian «Աոաջին Փորձութիւն» meaning First Try). Also in 1922, he translated Armenian playwright Levon Shant's play Hin Asdvadzner (in Armenian «Հին աստվածներ» meaning Old Gods) to English. In 1929 he published his Armenological study "Kri Dzakoume yev Daradzoume" (in Armenian «Գրի ծագումը և տարածումը» meaning the origin and spread of language) and in 1929 "Hapetapanoutyun" (in Armenian «Հաբեթաբանութիւն») in addition to an Armenian translation of a collection of English poetry under the title Albyoni Bardezen (in Armenian «Ալբիոնի պարտէզէն») also in 1929.
In 1951, he published his book Hazar Hink Harur Amyagi Khoher («1500ամեակի խոհեր» - meaning Thoughts on the 1500th Anniversary). In 1956 he published his book Asdvadzashountche yev Ashkharhapare (in Armenian «Աստուածաշունչը եւ Աշխարհաբարը» meaning The Holy Bible and Modern Armenian language).
He had numerous written works in linguistics, literature, studies and translations in Armenian. For example his literary work Salin Vra (Kragan Portser) (in Armenian Սալին Վրայ (գրական փորձեր), a collection of poems Khonchadz Yerazner (in Armenian «Խոնջած Երազներ»), a theatrical piece Tsaykatiter (in Armenian «Ցայգաթիթեռ») and studies like "Levon Shant, Ir Pilisopayoutyune yev Kegharvesde" (in Armenian Լեւոն Շանթ՝ Իր Փիլիսոփայութիւնը եւ Գեղարուեստը, meaning Levon Shant, his philosophy and artistry) and "Hay Tyutsaznavebe, Pakhtadadagan Himi Vera" (in Armenian Հայ Դիւցազնավէպը Բաղդատատական Հիմի Վրայ meaning The Armenian heroic epic novel on a comparative basis).
Concealment of his Armenian descent after death
After his death in 1979, in a news coverage, the then only Turkish TV channel TRT concealed the first name "Agop", which would suggest an Armenian descent, and instead mentioned "A. Dilaçar", using only the initial of his forename together with his surname. TRT was criticized for this attitude and the question was raised, if one is ashamed to mention the full name of one of the most important scholars of the Turkish language and thus reveal his Armenian descent. 
According to a rumor, he was the person who officially proposed the surname Atatürk to the founder of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Pasha. In fact, President of the Turkish Language Association Saffet Arıkan's "Ulu Önderimiz Ata Türk Mustafa Kemal" (Our Great Leader Ata Türk Mustafa Kemal) sentence in the opening speech of the 2nd Language Day on 26 September 1934 became an inspiration for surname Atatürk.
- in Turkish
- Azeri Türkçesi (Azerbaijani Turkish), 1950
- Batı Türkçesi (Western Turkish), 1953
- Lehçelerin Yazılma Tarzı (Writing Style of Dialects)
- Türk Dil ve Lehçelerinin Tasnifi Meselesi (Classification Issue of the Turkish Languages and Dialects), 1954
- Devlet Dili Olarak Türkçe (Turkish as a State Language), 1962
- Wilhelm Thomsen ve Orhon Yazıtlarının Çözülüşü (Wilhelm Thomson and Encoding of the Orkhon Inscriptions), 1963
- Türk Diline Genel Bir Bakış (A General Look at the Turkish Language), 1964
- Türkiye'de Dil Özleşmesi (Language Purification in Turkey), 1965
- Dil, Diller ve Dilcilik (Language, Languages and Linguistics), 1968
- Kutadgu Bilig İncelemesi (Research of the Kutadgu Bilig), 1972
- Anadili İlkeleri ve Türkiye Dışındaki Uygulamalar (Native Language Principles and Applications Outside Turkey), 1978
- in French
- Les bases bio-psychologiques de la Theorie Güneş Dil (1936)
- in Armenian
- 1500ամեակի խոհեր (Hazar Hink Harur Amyagi Khoher, Thoughts on the 1500th Anniversary), 1951
- Աստուածաշունչը եւ աշխարհաբարը (Asdvadzashountche yev Ashkharhapare, The Bible and the Armenian Modern Language), 1956
- Յօդուածներ (Hotvadzner, Articles), 2000
- Համայնապատկեր հայ մշակոյթի (Hamaynabadger Hay Meshagouyti Panorama of the Armenian Culture), vol. I, 2004
- Համայնապատկեր հայ մշակոյթի (Hamaynabadger Hay Meshagouyti Panorama of the Armenian Culture), vol. II, 2005
- Turkish language
- Turkish Language Association
- Atatürk's Reforms
- Sun Language Theory
- Karamanoğlu Mehmet Bey
- (in Armenian) "Հակոբ Դիլաչարը Աթաթուրքի մոտ երգեց Զորավար Անդրանիկի երգը." ("Hagop Dilachar Sang Commander Andranik's Song in Atatürk's Presence"). Bnaban. July 7, 2012. Retrieved July 14, 2012.
- İrfan Özfatura: "Dilimizi dilim dilim... Agop Dilâçar" (Turkish), Türkiye Gazetesi, April 3, 2011. Retrieved February 15, 2012
- Cem Özdemir: "Der Völkermord an den Armeniern und die deutsche Öffentlichkeit", Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, panel discussion, Berlin, September 22, 2011
- Dr. Sarkis Adam: "Dilbilimci AGOP MARTAYAN-DİLAÇAR ın Ölümünün 30. Yıldönümü" Archived 2014-02-22 at the Wayback Machine. (Turkish), HyeTert, September 20, 2009. Retrieved February 15, 2012
- "A Place in the Sun, in Turkey, Malgre Sangre", August 24, 2009. Retrieved February 15, 2012
- "Agop Dilacar" (Turkish), Nouvelles d'Arménie en Ligne, August 28, 2008. Retrieved February 15, 2012
- Yalçın Yusufoğlu: "Agop Martanyan Dilaçar" Archived February 22, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. (Turkish), September 13, 2009. Retrieved February 15, 2012
- "Gazi, önerilen 14. soyadını kabul etmiş!". Habertürk. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
- Dilaçar's biography (in Turkish)