Ingrid (iobgg) wrote in linguaphiles,

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History of Turkish Language

I'm visiting a friend in Turkey and picked up her phrasebook to read this introduction to the language:

"For a language which traces its roots as far back as 3500 BC, has traveled through Central Asia, Persia, North Africa and Europe and been written in both Arabic and Latin script, you'll be surprised that Turkish is a highly regular language with no genders, one irregular noun and only one irregular verb."

So right away I'm feeling dubious about this book, because of course it's the localized languages that are usually the super-complex ones, and the far-flung, empire languages that get simplified for the purposes of foreign adoption ...

So question #1, does anyone have good resources for the story of how Turkish changed as it spread?

Since I was already feeling skeptical about this author's linguistic knowledge, when I got to this quote I also had my doubts: "In 1932 Ataturk created the Turk Dil Kurumu (Turkish Language Society) and gave it the brief os simplyfing the Turkish language to its 'pure' form of centuries before. The consequence, Turkish has changed so drastically that even Ataturk's own speeches (he died in 1938) are barely comprehensible to today's speakers of ozturkce ('pure Turkish')."

My understanding is that language commissions usually aren't terribly GOOD at making people talk any differently than how they want to. Presumably they didn't just make a list of forbidden words and new verb structures and mail it to all the schools.

So question #2: How did this change come about, or where can I find out more about it?

Thank you!

Edit: Oo, I just found a long old post on the modern reform, so a lot of those questions are answered. 
Another edit: To clarify, I believe Turkish is regular.  I'm curious as to whether it got that way through streamlining over the years as it spread.
Tags: language history, turkish

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