President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has once again said Ottoman Turkish should be taught in schools, accusing the early Republican period’s “language revolution” of “destroying” the Turkish language.
“It is one of the biggest problems in recent history that our language has become a subject of political discussions. In the name of ‘language revolution,’ our Turkish was attacked by unpleasant, dull and soulless words.
The bond between our nation and its old civilization was tried to be weakened,” Erdoğan said on March 15 at the award ceremony of a high school’s composition contest at the presidential complex in Ankara.
Ottoman Turkish is an old form of Turkish using Arabic script, with many words borrowed from Persian and Arabic. As part of cultural reforms to create a Western-style secular state, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of modern Turkey, replaced Ottoman Turkish with the Latin alphabet.
In 1932, as part of Atatürk’s drive to make the new form of Turkish more widespread, the Turkish Language Society (Türk Dil Kurumu) was founded.
Erdoğan has long criticized the changes, saying it made Turkey lose touch with its history.
“Our bond with our history was cut,” he said.
“If you cut the vein of one nation from its language, then you cut their ties with their grandfathers,” he added.
“If today younger generations cannot understand Mehmet Akif Ersoy, Ömer Seyfettin or Ahmet Haşimi, let alone Fuzuli or Baki, it is because our language was destroyed during that period,” he said, referring to late Ottoman nationalist authors.
“I believe the period that destroyed the richness of our language is long gone. But I believe the destruction continues. For this reason, I think it would be good that Ottoman Turkish gets taught in schools,” he said.
Erdoğan also criticized the influence of the internet over language, urging citizens to be careful not to use foreign words.
He called on shopkeepers to change the names of their shops if they were not Turkish.