The Turkish Language
1. Turkish is a very ancient language going back 5500 to 8500 years.
2. Today the Turkish language is spoken by about 70 million speakers mainly in Turkey and Cyprus. There are also Turkish speakers in Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, El Salvador, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Iran, Iraq and Israel.
3. Through the span of history, Turks have spread over a wide geographical area, stretching across today’s Mongolia, the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Iraq and a wide area of northern Africa, taking their language with them.
4. The Turkish language is spoken at home by people who live in the areas that were governed by the Ottoman Empire. For instance, in Bulgaria there are over a million speakers. About 50,000 Turkish speakers live in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Azerbaijan.
5. Generally, the “Turkish” languages spoken between Mongolia and Turkey should be called Turkic languages, and the term “Turkish” should refer to the language spoken in Turkey alone.
Other Influences on the Turkish Languages
6. Historically Turkish was strongly marked by the gradual impact of Persian and Arabic, not only in terms of vocabulary, but also sentence construction, writing etc.
7. During the times of the Ottoman Empire the language was also influenced by Slavic languages such as Bulgarian and Serbian.
8. Until 1928 Turkish was written with a version of the Perso-Arabic alphabet.
9. In 1928, as part of his efforts to modernise Turkey, the first President of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk replaced the Arabic script with a version of the Latin alphabet, which has been used ever since.
10. Islam is the main religion of Turkey with 99.8% of its population being Muslim (mostly Sunni), although the state is fiercely secular. Islam emanated from what is today Saudi Arabia.
11. Turkish cuisine is largely the heritage of Ottoman cuisine, which can be described as a fusion and refinement of Central Asian, Caucasian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Balkan cuisines.
12. The most popular sport in Turkey is football (soccer). The annual international yağlı güreş (oiled wrestling) tournament is the oldest continuously running, sanctioned sporting competition in the world, having taken place every year since 1362.
13. The Ottoman architecture was primarily built of stone. They mastered the technique of building vast inner spaces confined by seemingly weightless yet massive domes. They achieved perfect harmony between inner and outer spaces, as well as articulated light and shadow.