OMNES : The Journal of multicultural society

Current Issue

OMNES: The Journal of Multicultural Society - Vol. 9 , No. 2

[ 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
DOI: https://doi.org/10.14431/omnes.2019.07.9.2.100

Identity Construction through Language : The Case of the Turkish Language Reform
Can Bahadır Yüce
Butler University, USA


Abstract

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.


Keywords: language, identity, nation-building, Turkish Language Reform

Acknowledgments

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


References
1. Anderson, B. (1991). Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism (Rev. ed.). London, UK: Verso.
2. Aytürk, İ. (2009). H. F. Kvergić and the sun-language theory. Zeitschrift Der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, 159(1), 23-44.
3. Balım-Harding, Ç. (1999). The story of a failed attempt: 1997 draft bill on the correct use of Turkish language. In Y. Suleiman (Ed.), Language and society in the middle east and north Africa. London: Curzon.
4. Barut, M. (1993). Dr. Resit his times and thought (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Marmara University, Istanbul, Turkey. (In Turkish)
5. Behar, B. E. (1992). Power and history. Istanbul, Turkey: Afa. (In Turkish)
6. Benfey, C. (2019). Cornering the word market. The New York Review of Books, 66(11), 4-6.
7. Birtek, F. (2007). From affiliation to affinity: Citizenship in the transition from empire to the nation-state. In S. Benhabib, I. Shapiro, & D. Petranovich (Eds.), Identities, affiliations and allegiances (pp. 17-44). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
8. Eastman, C. M. (1983). Language planning. San Francisco, CA: Chandler & Sharp.
9. Fukuyama, F. (2018). Identity: The demand for dignity and the politics of resentment. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
10. Hanioğlu, M. Ş. (2008). A brief history of the late Ottoman Empire. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
11. Heyd, U. (1954). Language reform in modern Turkey. Jerusalem, Israel: Israel Oriental Society.
12. İnan, A. (2007). Memories and documents about Atatürk. Ankara, Turkey: Türkiye İş Bankası Yayınları. (In Turkish)
13. İz, M. (1990). Mark of the years. Istanbul, Turkey: Kitabevi. (In Turkish)
14. Jana, K. (2015). Changing heads and hats: Nationalism and modern masculinities in the ottoman empire and the republic of turkey. In P. D. Andersen & S. Wendt (Eds.), Masculinities and the nation in the modern world (pp. 217-242). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan US.
15. Kymlicka, W. (1996). Two models of pluralism and tolerance. In D. Heyd (Ed.) Toleration: An elusive virtue (pp. 81-105). Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.
16. Landau, J. M. (1993). The first Turkish language congress. In J. A. Fishman (Ed.) The earliest stage of language planning: The “first congress” phenomenon (pp. 271-292). Berlin, Germany: Mouton De Gruyter.
17. Lewis, B. (1961). The emergence of modern Turkey. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
18. Lewis, G. (2002). The Turkish language reform a catastrophic success. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
19. Naci, F. (2012). Life is a shade. Istanbul, Turkey: YKY. (In Turkish)
20. Onat, N. H. (1944). Foundation of Arabic through Turkish language. Istanbul, Turkey: Türk Dil Kurumu. (In Turkish)
21. Parla, J. (1990). Fathers and sons: Epistemological foundations of the Tanzimat novel. Istanbul, Turkey: İletişim Yayınları. (In Turkish)
22. Paul, L. (2010). Iranian language reform in the twentieth century: Did the first farhangestān (1935-1940) succeed? Journal of Persianate Studies, 3(1), 78–103.
23. Perry, J. (1985). Language reform in Turkey and Iran. International Journal of Middle East Studies, 17(3), 295-311.
24. Sachedina, A. A. (2001). The Islamic roots of democratic pluralism. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
25. Safran, W. (2008). Language, ethnicity and religion: A complex and persistent linkage. Nations and Nationalism, 14, 171-190.
26. Said, E. W. (1979). Orientalism. New York, NY: Vintage.
27. Suleiman, Y. (2004). A war of words. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
28. Şavkay, T. (1996). The language reform. Istanbul, Turkey: İnsan Yayınları. (In Turkish)
29. Tekin, T. (1958). Ataç’s language scholarship and words. Türk Dili, 7, 408-413. (In Turkish)
30. Türk Dil Kurumu. (1933). Turkish language. Ankara, İstanbul: Türk Dili Tetkik Cemiyeti. (In Turkish)
31. Ünaydın, R. E. (1943). Memoirs from Turkish language research institute’s foundation to the first congress. Ankara, Turkey: Türk Dil Kurumu. (In Turkish)
32. Walzer, M. (1997). On toleration. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
33. Yavuz, H. (2005). Essays on literature and art. Istanbul, Turkey: YKY. (In Turkish)
34. Zürcher, E. J. (1993). Turkey: A modern history. London, UK: I. B. Tauris.

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: (cyuce@utk.edu)