OMNES : The Journal of multicultural society
[ Article ]
OMNES: The Journal of Multicultural Society - Vol. 9, No. 2, pp.100-117
ISSN: 2093-5498 (Print)
Print publication date 31 Jul 2019
Received 10 May 2019 Revised 02 Jul 2019 Accepted 10 Jul 2019

Identity Construction through Language : The Case of the Turkish Language Reform

Can Bahadır Yüce
Butler University, USA


After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923, and the new regime aimed to construct a national identity through a series of reforms. Among them, one state-sponsored project was culturally significant: the Turkish Language Reform. Two institutions, the Turkish Historical Society and the Turkish Linguistic Society, helped to legitimize the language reform and construct a new cultural identity for the citizens of the new nation-state. The Turkish Language Reform, arguably the most radical of all Kemalist reforms, has been a successful component of the republican social engineering project. This paper examines the centrality of the language issue in the Kemalist nation-building effort and the role of the two above-mentioned institutions in the process. The Turkish Language Reform remains one of the most effective state interventions on language. The present paper explores the reasons behind the reform’s success and the importance of language as a marker of national identity.


language, identity, nation-building, Turkish Language Reform


The author is currently affiliated with the University of Tennessee, USA.


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Biographical Note

Can Bahadır Yüce is a lecturer at the University of Tennessee’s Department of History. He received his Ph.D. from Indiana University’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. His research interests include cultural studies and intellectual history. He has also published three poetry collections. E-mail: