Turkish Language Association

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Turkish Language Association
Türk Dil Kurumu
Türk Dil Kurumu logo.svg
Logo of the Turkish Language Association
FormationJuly 12, 1932; 89 years ago (1932-07-12)
PurposeRegulatory body of the Turkish language
HeadquartersAtatürk Boulevard No.: 217, Çankaya, 0668 Ankara, Turkey
Official language
Gürer Gülsevin
Key people
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Sâmih Rif'at (Yalnızgil)
Ruşen Eşref Ünaydın
Celâl Sahir Erozan
Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoğlu[1]

The Turkish Language Association (Turkish: Türk Dil Kurumu, TDK) is the regulatory body for the Turkish language, founded on 12 July 1932 by the initiative of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and headquartered in Ankara, Turkey. The Institution acts as the official authority on the language, contributes to linguistic research on Turkish and other Turkic languages, and is charged with publishing the official dictionary of the language, Güncel Türkçe Sözlük.


1933 meeting of the Association

Before the establishment of the TDK a Turkish language commission (Turkish: Dil Heyeti) was tasked with the latinization of the Turkish alphabet.[2] The commission took up its work in 1928 and comprised several influential personalities which would also become influential in the TDK.[2] Turkish language council would be put under the supervision of a Central Bureau, in which also Ahmet Cevat Emre, later the head of the Grammar and Syntax commission of the TDK would take a seat in.[2]



The institution was established on 12 July 1932, under the name Türk Dili Tetkik Cemiyeti (Society for Research on the Turkish Language) by the initiative of Atatürk, the first president of the Republic of Turkey, Samih Rıfat, Ruşen Eşref Ünaydın, Celâl Sahir Erozan and Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoğlu, all prominent names in the literature of the period and members of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. Following the establishment of the TDK, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk called for the purification of the Turkish language, in order to remove the "yoke of the foreign tongues“.[3]

The head specialist and Secretary General of the institution was the Turkish Armenian linguist Agop Dilaçar starting from 1934, who continued to work in the institution until his death in 1979.

The institution's name was changed to Turkish Language Research Institute in 1934, and it became the Turkish Language Institution in 1936.[4]


The institution heads academic linguistic research in Turkey into the Turkish language and its sister Turkic languages of Central Asia. In the 1930s the Hittite and Sumerian languages were also included into the group of Turkish languages while the origin of Indo-European and Semitic language was disputed.[3]

At the same time the Association led campaigns to replace the Arabic, Persian and Greek loanwords in the Turkish language. During the 3rd Congress the Sun Language Theory was presented according to which the Ural-Altaic, Indo-European and Semitic languages had their source in the Turkish language. And since Turkish was the source of all languages, loanwords could further on persist and French loanwords were adopted more frequently.[5]

Recently however, the attention of the institution has been turned towards the persistent infiltration of Turkish, like many other languages, with English words, as a result of the globalization process. Since the 1980s, TDK campaigns for the use of Turkish equivalents of these new English loanwords. It also has the task of coining such words from existing Turkish roots if no such equivalents exist, and actively promoting the adoption of these new coinages instead of their English equivalents in the daily lives of the Turkish population.[citation needed] TDK claims it doesn't coin Turkish equivalent words for foreign words which are already rooted deep down in the language such as "kalem (pencil,pen [from Arabic]),kitap (book [from Arabic]), radyo (radio [from French]), televizyon (television [from French])" but recently borrowed words such as "computer (bilgisayar [lit. information counter]), icetea (buzlu çay [lit. tea with ice]), flash memory (taşınabilir bellek [lit. portable memory])".[6][7][8]

Turkish word origins, 2007

Turkey currently doesn't have a legal framework to enforce by law the recommendations of TDK in public life[6][7] (contrary to Académie française in France, for example). On the other hand, there is a bill that is in consideration in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey at the moment that would give TDK and the Ministries of Education and Culture the tools to enforce legally the labelling of Turkish equivalents of these words next to their foreign counterparts, particularly in the news media, advertising, and commercial communications.[citation needed][when?]

Several members of the TDK support the implementation of a pure Turkish for daily use.[9]: 134 


Turkish Language Association building, Ankara

In 1935 it published an Ottoman Turkish/Pure Turkish dictionary to show the improvements of the language reform.[10] It publishes Türkçe Sözlük, the official Turkish dictionary,[11] and Yazım Kılavuzu, the Turkish writing guide, in addition to many other specialized dictionaries, linguistics books and several periodicals.

The institution, in addition to maintaining Güncel Türkçe Sözlük has published more than 850 linguistics related books, mainly consisting of studies on Turkic languages, specialized dictionaries, philological books, and works of literature.

TDK also publishes Türk Dili, a journal on Turkish literature, since 1951, Belleten, the annual journal on Turkic languages, since 1953, and Türk Dünyası, another periodical published twice a year on Turkish language and literature since 1996.


The 2005 edition of Güncel Türkçe Sözlük, the official dictionary of the Turkish language published by Turkish Language Association, contains 104,481 entries, of which about 86% are Turkish and 14% are of foreign origin.[12] Among the most significant foreign contributors to Turkish vocabulary are Arabic, French, Persian, Italian, English, and Greek.[13]


The TDK allegedly changed the definition of the word "çapulcu" (plunderer) to "the one who acts deviant against the order, the one who ruins the order", after Erdoğan used the word against protesters in the Gezi Park events, this has caused controversy. The change has been criticized stating that the TDK was unsuccessful in finding the relationship between the word and its root "çapul" (plunder) along with other synonyms such as "plaçkacı" and "yağmacı", both meaning "looter".[14] TDK rejected the claims that the word had been changed.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Türk Dil Kurumu - Başkanlar". TDK Official (in Turkish). Çankaya, Ankara: Turkish Language Association. Archived from the original on 6 December 2015. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Aytürk, İlker (2008). "The First Episode of Language Reform in Republican Turkey: The Language Council from 1926 to 1931". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. 18 (3): 280–283. doi:10.1017/S1356186308008511. hdl:11693/49487. ISSN 1356-1863. JSTOR 27755954. S2CID 162474551.
  3. ^ a b Tachau, Frank (1964). "Language and Politics: Turkish Language Reform". The Review of Politics. 26 (2): 196–198. doi:10.1017/S0034670500004733. ISSN 0034-6705. JSTOR 1405748.
  4. ^ TDK, Tarihçe
  5. ^ Uzer, Umut (2016). An Intellectual History of Turkish Nationalism. Utah: The University of Utah Press. p. 103,104. ISBN 9781607814658.
  6. ^ a b "TDK FAQ - İş yeri, sokak, cadde, tabela vb. yerlerde yabancı isimler görmekteyiz. Türk Dil Kurumu bunlara niçin engel olmuyor? Niçin bunlarla ilgili yasalar çıkarıp bir yaptırım uygulamıyor?".
  7. ^ a b "TDK FAQ - Türk Dil Kurumu, ithal edilen ürünlere Türkçe isimler verilmesini niçin sağlamıyor?".
  8. ^ "TDK FAQ - Türk Dil Kurumu, dilimize girmiş ya da girmekte olan yabancı kelimelerin Türkçeleşmesine yönelik ne gibi çalışmalar yapmaktadır?".
  9. ^ Landau, Jacob M. (1984). Atatürk and the Modernization of Turkey. Boulder: Westview Press. ISBN 0865319863.
  10. ^ Szurek, Emmanuel (2015-02-17). Order and Compromise: Government Practices in Turkey from the Late Ottoman Empire to the Early 21st Century. BRILL. p. 94. ISBN 978-90-04-28985-7.
  11. ^ "Tarihçe – Türk Dil Kurumu". tdk.gov.tr. Retrieved 2020-05-14.
  12. ^ "Güncel Türkçe Sözlük" (in Turkish). Turkish Language Association. 2005. Archived from the original on 2007-03-12. Retrieved 2007-03-21.
  13. ^ "Türkçe Sözlük (2005)'teki Sözlerin Kökenlerine Ait Sayısal Döküm (Numerical list on the origin of words in Türkçe Sözlük (2005))" (in Turkish). Turkish Language Association. 2005. Archived from the original on 2007-03-01. Retrieved 2007-03-21.
  14. ^ ""Çapulcu" TDK". odatv (in Turkish). Retrieved 2021-01-01.
  15. ^ AA. "TDK'dan 'çapulcu' açıklaması". www.hurriyet.com.tr (in Turkish). Retrieved 2021-01-01.

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