Turkish the Language and Its History

  March 15, 2021   Read time 2 min
Turkish the Language and Its History
Turkish is one of the key languages spoken throughout Caucasus. Almost one third of Iranians are speaking Turkish in various accents. Turkish culture is an inseparable part of the Iranian culture. Iran cannot be fathomed without the Turks and their contributions to the history of the land.

Turkish belongs to the Turkic family of languages, which have been spoken for many centuries across a vast territory from the Balkans to China. Within this family, which includes such languages as Uighur, Uzbek, Tatar and Kazakh, Turkish forms part of the southwestern or Oghuz branch. Its closest relatives are Gagauz (spoken by less than 200,000 people of Orthodox Christian religion, mostly in southern Moldova), Azerbaijanian (spoken by up to 20 million people in Iran and Azerbaijan) and Turkmen (spoken by some 3 million people in Turkmenistan and by about 400,000 in Iraq). Turkish itself is spoken predominantly in the Republic of Turkey, of which it is the official language. No statistics are available as to how many of Turkey’s population of 70 million have Turkish as their first language. Most of the ethnic minorities have undergone considerable (in some cases, total) linguistic assimilation. In the largest ethnic minority, that of the Kurds (which is variously estimated to make up between 8 per cent and 20 per cent of the country’s population), a large number of people are bilingual. A reasonable estimate would probably be that Turkish is now the first language of 55–60 million of Turkey’s citizens, with another few million people speaking it with equal fluency to their native language. Turkish speakers outside Turkey fall into two groups. The first consists of communities located in various lands that were formerly, for several centuries, part of the Ottoman Empire. There are populations of this kind in Bulgaria (760,000), Greece (115,000), Macedonia (80,000) and Romania (23,000). Cyprus, also former Ottoman territory, has seen its Turkish-speaking population considerably enlarged by migration from Turkey since 1974. There may be as many as 150,000–200,000 Turkish speakers living in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus at the time of writing. The second group of Turkish speakers outside Turkey comprises those who, since the 1960s, have taken up residence in various western European countries, Australia and North America. The number in western Europe is nearly 4 million, of whom half live in Germany. The Australian Turkish community numbers some 40,000, and the number of Turkish speakers in North America is 50,000–60,000. Although in all these migrant communities there is a tendency for the use of Turkish to decline with each succeeding generation, it can probably be stated with reasonable certainty that Turkish is spoken as a first language or with native fluency by about 65 million people worldwide.

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