Languages of Turkey

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http://www.ethnologue.com/country/TR/languages

Languages of Turkey
Official languages Turkish
Minority languages Kurmanji, Zazaki, Arabic, Laz, Georgian[1]
Main immigrant languages Albanian, Bosnian, Pomak/Bulgarian
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 Languages of Turkey, apart from the only official language Turkish, include the widespread Kurdish language, the moderately prevalent minority languages Arabic and Zazaki and a number of less common minority languages, some of which are guaranteed by the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne.

Constitutional rights[edit]

Official language[edit]

Article 3 of the Constitution of Turkey defines Turkish as the only official language of Turkey.[3]

Minority language rights[edit]

Article 42 of the Constitution explicitly prohibits educational institutions to teach any language other than Turkish as a mother tongue to Turkish citizens.[4]

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.

Due to Article 42 and its longtime restrictive interpretation, ethnic minorities have been facing severe restrictions in the use of their mother languages.

Concerning the incompatibility of this provision with the International Bill of Human Rights, Turkey signed the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights only with reservations constraining minority rights and the right to education. Furthermore, Turkey hasn't signed either of the Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, or the anti-discrimination Protocol 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights.[5]

This particular constitutional provision has been contested both internationally and within Turkey. The provision has been criticized by minority groups, notably the Kurdish community. In October 2004, the Turkish State's Human Rights Advisory Board called for a constitutional review in order to bring Turkey's policy on minorities in line with international standards, but was effectively muted.[6] It was also criticized by EU member states, the OSCE, and international human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch who 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".[7]

Supplementary language education[edit]

In 2013, the Ministry of Education included Kurdish, Abkhaz, Adyghe and Laz languages to the academic programme of the basic schools as optional classes from the fifth year on.[8]

Lists of languages[edit]

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

Mother Tongue in Turkey[9]
Mother Tongue Percentage
Turkish 76.54
Kurmanji 20.2
Arabic 1.38
Zazaki 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
Nordic Languages 0.04
West European languages 0.02
Jewish languages 0.01
Other 0.09
Languages of Turkey[10][11]
Language Numbers Classification Comment
Turkish 66,500,000 (۲۰۰۶) Turkic (Oghuz)
Kurmanji 15,000,000 Indo-European (Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western) also known as Northern Kurdish
Zazaki 1,000,000 (1998/1999) Indo-European (Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western) also known as Dimli
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)
Nordic Languages 3,000 (2000) Nordic languages (Swedish, Danish and Norwegian)
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

-Abaza [abq] Central; Eskisehir, Samsun, Yozgat, Adana, and Kayseri provinces. 10,000 in Turkey (1995). Status: 5 (Developing). Alternate Names: Abazin, Abazintsy, Ahuwa, Tapanta Dialects: Ashkaraua (Ashkar), Bezshagh, Tapanta. Classification: North Caucasian, West Caucasian, Abkhaz-Abazin Comments: Muslim.


Abkhaz [abk] Northeast, Artvin Province; also Coruh, Bolu, and Sakarya subprovinces. 4,000 in Turkey (1980). Ethnic population: 39,000 (Johnstone 2001). Status: 6b (Threatened). Alternate Names: Abxazo Dialects: Abzhui, Bzyb, Samurzakan. Classification: North Caucasian, West Caucasian, Abkhaz-Abazin Comments: Muslim (Sunni).

Adyghe [ady] Central and western Anatolia, Kayseri, Tokat, Karaman Maras, and many other provinces. 278,000 in Turkey (2000). 6,410 monolinguals (1965 census). Status: 5 (Developing). Alternate Names: Adygey, Cherkes, Circassian Classification: North Caucasian, West Caucasian, Circassian Comments: Muslim (Sunni).


Albanian, Tosk [als] Edirne, Istanbul, Kirklareli, and Tekirdag provinces; center is Arnavut; otherwise scattered throughout western Turkey. 15,000 in Turkey (1980). 1,100 monolinguals (1965 census). Ethnic population: 65,000. Status: 6b (Threatened). Alternate Names: Shqip Classification: Indo-European, Albanian, Tosk Comments: Muslim (Sunni).

Arabic, Mesopotamian Spoken [acm] Sanliurfa, Diyarbakir, Mardin, and Siirt provinces; very small area in Gaziantep Province. 100,000 in Turkey. Status: 6a (Vigorous). Dialects: Anatolian Cluster. Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Semitic, Central, South, Arabic Comments: Christian, Jewish.


Arabic, North Mesopotamian Spoken [ayp] Mardin, Sirnak, Batman, Siirt, and Sanliurfa provinces. 400,000 in Turkey (1992). Status: 6a (Vigorous). Alternate Names: Syro-Mesopotamian Vernacular Arabic Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Semitic, Central, South, Arabic Comments: Do not read Arabic. Muslim, Christian.


Armenian [hye] Many in Istanbul; and in east Turkey, Kars Province, scattered elsewhere. 40,000 in Turkey (1980). 1,000 monolinguals (1965 census). Ethnic population: 70,000 (1980). Status: 6b (Threatened). Alternate Names: Armjanski, Ermenice, Haieren, Somkhuri Dialects: Western Armenian. Classification: Indo-European, Armenian Comments: Hemshin are Armenian Muslims, living near the Laz [lzz] language area. Christian, Muslim.

More Information Azerbaijani, South [azb] Kars and Igdir provinces. 530,000 in Turkey. Status: 5 (Developing). Alternate Names: Azeri Dialects: Kars. Classification: Turkic, Southern, Azerbaijani Comments: Muslim.


Balkan Gagauz Turkish [bgx] Surguch dialect in Edirne Province. 327,000 in Turkey (Johnstone 1993). 7,000 Surguch (1965) and 320,000 Yuruk. Population total all countries: 331,000. Status: 7 (Shifting). Alternate Names: Balkan Turkic Dialects: Gajol, Gerlovo Turks, Karamanli, Kyzylbash, Surguch, Tozluk Turks, Yuruk (Konyar, Yoruk). Classification: Turkic, Southern, Turkish Comments: Distinct from Gagauz [gag] of Moldova, Bulgaria, and Romania. Christian.

Bulgarian [bul] Scattered in Edirne and other western provinces. 300,000 in Turkey (Johnstone and Mandryk 2001). Refugees from Bulgaria. Status: 5 (Dispersed). Alternate Names: Pomak Dialects: Pomak. Classification: Indo-European, Balto-Slavic, Slavic, South, Eastern Comments: Muslim (Sunni).

Crimean Tatar [crh] Ankara Province, Polatli district, Karakuyu, several villages. 2,000 in Turkey. Status: 5 (Developing). Alternate Names: Crimean Turkish Dialects: Central Crimean, Northern Crimean (Crimean Nogai, Steppe Crimean), Southern Crimean. Classification: Turkic, Southern Comments: Muslim.

Domari [rmt] Mainly west; widespread. 28,500 in Turkey (Gunnemark and Kenrick 1985). Status: 6a (Vigorous). Alternate Names: Gypsy, Middle Eastern Romani, Tsigene Dialects: Beludji, Karachi, Marashi. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Central zone, Dom Comments: 500,000 Gypsies in Turkey speak Domari or varieties of Romani (Gunnemark and Kenrick 1985). Muslim.


Georgian [kat] North and northwest Anatolia, Artvin, Ordu, Sakarya, and other provinces. 40,000 in Turkey (1980). 4,000 monolinguals (1965 census). Ethnic population: 91,000. Status: 6b (Threatened). Alternate Names: Gruzin, Kartuli Dialects: Imerxev. Classification: Kartvelian, Georgian Comments: Muslim (Sunni).


Greek [ell] Istanbul, some in Izmir Province. 4,000 in Turkey (1993). Status: 5 (Dispersed). Classification: Indo-European, Greek, Attic Comments: Nearly all Greeks emigrated from Turkey. There were 1,500,000 in Turkey in 1900.

Hértevin [hrt] Southeast, most likely Mardin Province; otherwise scattered. 1,000 (1999 H. Mutzafi). Status: 6a (Vigorous). Dialects: Hértevin Proper (Arton), Jinet, Umraya. Considerable differences from other Northeastern Aramaic varieties, and not intelligible with any or most of them. Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Semitic, Central, Aramaic, Eastern, Central, Northeastern Comments: Christian (Chaldean).


Kabardian [kbd] Uzun Yayla plateau east of Kayseri; Samsun area; Amasya; Çorum. 1,000,000 in Turkey (2005 Circassian Association). Status: 5 (Developing). Classification: North Caucasian, West Caucasian, Circassian Comments: Muslim (Sunni).


Kazakh [kaz] Manisa Province, Salihli district; Istanbul; Kayseri Province. 600 in Turkey (1982). Status: 5 (Dispersed). Alternate Names: Kaisak, Kazakhi, Kazax, Kosach, Qazaqi Classification: Turkic, Western, Aralo-Caspian Comments: Muslim.


Kumyk [kum] Gumushane Province, Torul district; a few villages. Status: 6b (Threatened). Alternate Names: Kumuk, Kumuklar, Kumyki Dialects: Buinak, Khaidak, Khasav-Yurt. Classification: Turkic, Western, Ponto-Caspian Comments: Different from the Kumux dialect of Lak [lbe]. Muslim.


Kurdish, Northern [kmr] Widespread, especially east and southeast. 15,000,000 in Turkey (McCarus 2009), decreasing. Very provisional figures for Northern Kurdish speaker population. Population total all countries: 20,222,890. 3,000,000 monolinguals. Especially in Hakkari and Shirnak provinces. Status: 3 (Wider communication). Alternate Names: Kermancî, Kirmancî, Kurdi, Kurdî, Kurmancî, Kurmanji Dialects: Ashiti, Bayezidi, Boti (Botani), Hekari, Marashi, Mihemedî, Shemdinani, Shikakî, Silivî. Dialect differences but all use the same written form. A member of macrolanguage Kurdish [kur]. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Kurdish Comments: Muslim (Sunni), Muslim (Alevi), Yezidi.


Kyrgyz [kir] Van and Kars provinces. 1,140 in Turkey (1982). Status: 5 (Dispersed). Classification: Turkic, Western, Aralo-Caspian Comments: Refugees from Afghanistan; now Turkish citizens. Muslim (Sunni).


Ladino [lad] Mainly Istanbul; some in Izmir Province. 10,000 in Turkey (Salminen 2007). Ethnic population: 15,000. Status: 7 (Shifting). Alternate Names: Dzhudezmo, Haketia, Hakitia, Judeo Spanish, Judezmo, Sefardi, Spanyol Classification: Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Western, Gallo-Iberian, Ibero-Romance, West Iberian, Castilian Comments: Jewish.


Laz [lzz] Northeast, Rize, Kemer, Atin, Artasen, Vitse, Arkab, Hopa, and Sarp; Artvin, Sakarya, Kocaeli, and Bolu provinces. 20,000 in Turkey (Salminen 2007). Population total all countries: 22,000. Ethnic population: 92,000 (1980). Status: 6b (Threatened). Alternate Names: Chan, Chanuri, Chanzan, Laze, Zan Dialects: None known. Officially considered a single language with Mingrelian [xmf], called, Zan, although not mutually inherently intelligible. Classification: Kartvelian, Zan Comments: Muslim.


Pontic [pnt] Northeast, Trabzon Province, near southeast Black Sea coast. 300,000 in Turkey (2009 Z. Diakonikolaou). Status: 6a (Vigorous). Classification: Indo-European, Greek, Attic Comments: Muslim.


Romani, Balkan [rmn] West; widespread. 25,000 in Turkey. Status: 6a (Vigorous). Dialects: Arli (Erli). Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Central zone, Romani, Balkan Comments: Muslim.


Serbian [srp] Widespread in the west. 20,000 in Turkey (1980). 2,350 monolinguals (1965 census). Ethnic population: 61,000. Status: 6b (Threatened). Alternate Names: Bosnian Classification: Indo-European, Balto-Slavic, Slavic, South, Western Comments: Muslim.

Syriac [syc] Southeast, Sanliurfa Province. No known L1 speakers. Status: 9 (Dormant). Alternate Names: Ancient Syriac, Classical Syriac, Lishana Atiga, Suryaya, Suryoyo Dialects: Eastern Syriac, Western Syriac. Syrian churches: Eastern (Nestorian), Syrian Orthodox (Jacobite), and Syrian Catholic (Melkite, Maronite) developed a vast literature based on the Edessa (currently Sanliurfa, southeastern Turkey) variety of the Syrian dialect. Assyrian group (see Assyrian Neo-Aramaic in Iraq and elsewhere) separated denominationally from Chaldean (see Chaldean Neo-Aramaic in Iraq) and Jacobite (see Turoyo in Turkey and Syria) in the Middle Ages. Neo-Eastern Aramaic languages spoken by Christians are often dubbed Neo-Syriac although not directly descended from Syriac. Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Semitic, Central, Aramaic, Eastern Comments: Christian.


Tatar [tat] Istanbul, perhaps elsewhere. Status: 5 (Developing). Classification: Turkic, Western, Uralian Comments: Muslim.


Turkish [tur] Widespread as L1 or L2. 66,500,000 in Turkey (European Commission 2006). Population total all countries: 70,890,130. L2 users: 350,000 in Turkey (European Commission 2006). Status: 1 (National). Statutory national language (1982, Constitution, Article 3). Alternate Names: Anatolian, Türkçe, Türkisch Dialects: Danubian, Dinler, Edirne, Eskisehir, Gaziantep, Karamanli, Razgrad, Rumelian, Urfa. Danubian is west; other dialects east. Classification: Turkic, Southern, Turkish Comments: Muslim.


Turkish Sign Language [tsm] Scattered. Status: 5 (Developing). Alternate Names: TID, Türk Isaret Dili Classification: Deaf sign language Comments: Presence of deaf people using sign languages is documented from Hittite times (2000 to 1200 BCE). During the Ottoman Empire (15th to 18th centuries), deaf and other sign language users, called Dilsiz ‘speechless’, served as royal servants, although there is no evidence that Ottoman Sign Language is related to modern TID. A one-handed fingerspelling system for Arabic script was used in the 19th and early 20th centuries until the alphabet revolution in 1928 that introduced Latin script for writing Turkish [tur], at which time a two-handed fingerspelling system for Latin script came into use. (Kemaloglu and Kemaloglu 2012).


Turkmen [tuk] Tokat Province. 920 in Turkey (1982). Status: 5 (Dispersed). Alternate Names: Trukhmen Classification: Turkic, Southern, Turkmenian Comments: Refugees from Afghanistan; now Turkish citizens. Muslim (Sunni).


Turoyo [tru] Southeast, Sirnak and Mardin provinces. 3,000 in Turkey (1994 H. Mutzafi). Population total all countries: 62,000. Ethnic population: 50,000 (1994). Status: 6b (Threatened). Alternate Names: Surayt, Süryani, Suryoyo, Syryoyo, Turani Dialects: Anhil, ’Iwardo, Kfarze, Midin, Midyat, Raite. Turoyo subdialects divided between Town Turoyo (Midyat Turoyo), Village Turoyo, and Mixed (Village-Town) Turoyo. Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Semitic, Central, Aramaic, Eastern, Central, Northwestern Comments: Glossonym: Tûrôyo, known among scholars almost exclusively; Suryoyo, is popular. Western Syriac, refers to the Classical Western Syriac [syc] liturgy and orthography used by Turoyo speakers. Christian (Jacobite).

Ubykh [uby] Istanbul Province, near the Sea of Marmara, Haci Osman village. No known L1 speakers. Last speaker died in 1992. Status: 10 (Extinct). Alternate Names: Oubykh, Pekhi, Ubyx Classification: North Caucasian, West Caucasian, Ubyx Comments: Most migrated to Turkey in 1894.


Uyghur [uig] Kayseri and Istanbul provinces. 500 in Turkey (1981). Status: 5 (Developing). Alternate Names: Uighur, Uigur, Uygur Classification: Turkic, Eastern Comments: Muslim (Sunni).


Uzbek, Southern [uzs] Hatay, Gaziantep, and Sanliurfa provinces. 1,980 in Turkey (1982). Status: 5 (Developing). Classification: Turkic, Eastern Comments: Refugees from Afghanistan; now Turkish citizens. Distinct from Northern Uzbek [uzn] of Uzbekistan and China. Muslim (Sunni).


Zaza [zza] A macrolanguage. Population total all languages: 1,640,000. Comments: Includes: Northern Zazaki [kiu], Southern Zazaki [diq].

Zazaki, Northern [kiu] Sivas Province, Zara, Imranli, Kangal, and Divrigi subprovinces; Tunceli Province, Tunceli merkez, Hozat, Nazmiye, Pülümür, and Ovacik subprovinces; Bingol Province, Kigi and Karkiova subprovinces; Erzurum Province, Erzincan and Cayirli subprovinces; Elazig Province, Elazig merkez and Karakoqan subprovinces; Mush Province, Varto subprovince; Malatya Province; at least 83 total villages. 140,000 in Turkey. Status: 4 (Educational). Alternate Names: Alevica, Dersimki, Dimilki, Kirmanjki, Northern Zaza, So-Bê, Zaza, Zonê Ma Dialects: Tunceli, Varto. Lexical similarity: 70% with Southern Zazaki [diq]. A member of macrolanguage Zaza [zza]. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Zaza-Gorani Comments: Ethnonym for Alevi-Zaza: Kirmanj (Kirmanc), Kizilbash-Zaza. Muslim (Alevi).


Zazaki, Southern [diq] East-central, Diyarbakir, Elazig and Bingö provinces. Mainly Cermik, Gerger, Egil, Siverek, Dicle, Palu, Bingöl, and Hani cities. 1,500,000 (Paul 1998), decreasing. A few elderly monolinguals. Ethnic population: 3,000,000 (Paul 1998). Status: 5 (Developing). Alternate Names: Dimili, Dimli, Southern Zaza, Zaza, Zazaca Dialects: Dersimki, Dumbuli (Dumbeli), Eastern Zazaki (Central Zazaki), Hazzu (Hazo), Kori, Motki (Moti), Sivereki. Dialects differ slightly, but mutually intelligible. A member of macrolanguage Zaza [zza]. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Zaza-Gorani Comments: Muslim (Sunni).

History[edit]

Turkey has historically been the home to many now extinct languages. These include Hittite, 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]

Literature[edit]

[12]www.ethnologue.com/country/TR/languages
  1. ^ http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/4954ce3fc.html
  2. ^ Europeans and Their Languages
  3. ^ "Constitution of the Republic of Turkey". Republic of Turkey. Article 3. 
  4. ^ "Constitution of the Republic of Turkey". Republic of Turkey. Article 42. 
  5. ^ European Commission 2005, pp. 35 f..
  6. ^ European Commission 2005, p. 35.
  7. ^ Questions and Answers: Freedom of Expression and Language Rights in Turkey. New York: Human Rights Watch. April 2002. 
  8. ^ http://www.ntvmsnbc.com/id/25466180
  9. ^ KONDA 2007
  10. ^ Lewis, M. Paul (ed.) (2009). "Ethnologue report for Turkey (Europe)". Ethnologue: Languages of the World. SIL International. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  11. ^ Lewis, M. Paul (ed.) (2009). "Ethnologue report for Turkey (Asia)". Ethnologue: Languages of the World. SIL International. Retrieved 2009-09-08.