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Index / Languages / Turkic /
Turkish



By country
Figures in 1000.
% to inhabitants in country.
Iran
3 <0.1%
Iraq
3 <0.1%
Turkey
59,800 78.0%
Saudi Arabia
20 0.1%
TOTAL
59,830 12.0%
Other countries
7,000

Total calculated to the MENA, with 490 million inhabitants.

Special Turkish letters

Turkic language spoken mainly in Turkey and Germany, with a total of around 66 million.
The major language belonging to the Turkic family, a subfamily of the Altaic languages; official and dominating language of Turkey.
Other related languages of the Middle East are Azerbaijani, Turkmen and Khorasani.
Through its entire history, Turkish has used the local alphabets of the regions where Turks have settled. Hence, old Turkish texts can be found in alphabets as different as the Nestorian, Sogd, Uighur, Pali, Manichean, Brahman and through most of its literal period, in Arabic.
Modern Turkish is a product of the reform work started since the formation of the Turkish republic in 1923. It was based on Ottoman Turkish and Old Anatolian Turkish, both which had used Arabic script. Modern Turkish uses the Latin alphabet, but with special signs for Turkish vowels. Another reform introduced to the older forms of Turkish were the purifying of the vocabulary, which had become greatly influence by Arabic and Persian words. In 1932 an estimated 60-65% of the words in Turkish were of foreign origin, a number which had fallen to 20-25% in recent years.

History
Modern studies indicate that Turkish language has a history dating back to the middle of the 4th millennium BCE.
8th century: The oldest written documents of Turkish, found upon stone monuments in what in modern days is Mongolia.
11th century: With the Seljuq invasion into Asia Minor, their form of Turkic language is introduced to the Middle East. As the rulers of an increasing territory, many of the local peoples adopt the new language. Turkish soon adopts the Arabic alphabet.
14th century: Turkish becomes the dominating language for a growing empire, the Ottoman, involving its introduction to the western parts of Asia Minor.
1530: The first study of Turkish grammar is published.
16th century: A new form of Turkish is developed where loan words from primarily Arabic and Persian replaces Turkish words. This form of Turkish would become the common one among the rich and powerful in the Ottoman Empire, hence it is called Ottoman Turkish. Ordinary people would continue to use a language close to Old Turkish.
19th century: As part of the Tanzimat, a will to reform the Turkish language would come to dominate for Turkish writers, journalists and the intelligentsia. The reform involved the partial elimination of foreign vocabulary and the simplification of the language.
1929: The Latin alphabet replaces the Arabic one, with the introduction of specific letters well fit for the Turkish language.
1932: The Turkish Language Society is formed, with the commission to reform the language.




By Tore Kjeilen