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The Turkish Language Reform : A Catastrophic Success - Geoffrey Lewis

The Turkish Language Reform

A Catastrophic Success

Hardcover Published: 1st November 1999
ISBN: 9780198238560
Number Of Pages: 200

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This is the first full account of the transformation of Ottoman Turkish into modern Turkish. It is based on the author's knowledge, experience and continuing study of the language, history, and people of Turkey. That transformation of the Turkish language is probably the most thorough-going piece of linguistics engineering in history. Its prelude came in 1928, when the Arabo-Persian alphabet was outlawed and replaced by the Latin alphabet. It began in earnest in 1930 when Ataturk declared: Turkish is one of the richest of languages. It needs only to be used with discrimination. The Turkish nation, which is well able to protect its territory and its sublime independence, must also liberate its language from the yoke of foreign languages. A government-sponsored campaign was waged to replace words of Arabic or Persian origin by words collected from popular speech, or resurrected from ancient texts, or coined from native roots and suffixes. The snag - identified by the author as one element in the catastrophic aspect of the reform - was that when these sources failed to provide the needed words, the reformers simply invented them. The reform was central to the young republic's aspiration to be western and secular, but it did not please those who remained wedded to their mother tongue or to the Islamic past. The controversy is by no means over, but Ottoman Turkish is dead. Professor Lewis both acquaints the general reader with the often bizarre, sometimes tragicomic but never dull story of the reform, and provides a lively and incisive account for students of Turkish and the relations between culture, politics and language with some stimulating reading. The author draws on his own wide experience of Turkey and his personal knowledge of many of the leading actors. The general reader will not be at a disadvantage, because no Turkish word or quotation has been left untranslated. This book is important for the light it throws on twentieth-century Turkish politics and society, as much as it is for the study of linguistic change. It is not only scholarly and accessible; it is also an extremely good read.

`Lewis' passion for his subject matter is clear' Journal of Sociolinguistics 5/2, 2001 `The Turkish Language Reform is a dramatic story, entertainingly written, and not overly long. What is more, it provides a great insight into the practicalities of language planning.' Journal of Sociolinguistics 5/2, 2001 `From the moment you read 'A catastrophic success' in the subtitle you know that Lewis's intention is to provide interesting, entertaining reading. The story is a great one ... and well worth the read.' Journal of Sociolinguistics 5/2 2001 `Professor Lewis has written a fascinating book and he deserves the gratitude and appreciation of both colleagues and non-specialists alike. Lewis has succeeded in making a demanding task seem particularly easy and even graceful. As a stylist, Lewis is incisive, sometime brutally candid, and almost always witty. The book is sure to remain the last word on the language reform for a long time to come.' Benjamin C. Fortna, Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 37, No.1, Jan 2001 `This subject has long awaited a full-length treatment in English and it would be hard to imagine anyone better able to provide it than Geoffrey Lewis. Lewis ... draws on the experience of a distinguished career to provide both a wealth of anecdotal material and the advantages of long-term perspective.' Benjamin C. Fortna, Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Vol.37, No.1, Jan 2001 `very informative - especially for the nonspecialist - and worthwhile reading.' Wolfgang-E. Scharlipp, Anthropological Linguistics, 42, No.2. `this book can and must be recommended to anyone interested in the modern Turkish language.' Wolfgang-E. Scharlipp, Anthropological Linguistics, 42, No.2. `Lewis's book is learned, eloquent, and witty.' Reviews IX, Sino-Platonic Papers, 107, Sept. 2000. `Particularly effective and entertaining are those passages which he skillfully translates twice -- first in their unadulterated form with their full complement of words of non-Turkic origin, then in their clean-up, "pure" Turkic form.' Reviews IX, Sino-Platonic Papers, 107, Sept. 2000. `Lewis ... writes in a lively and witty style. Absolutely essential for collections supporting Turkish and linguistics departments at all levels.' W.L. Hanaway, Choice, Vol.38, No.1. `this book is a fascinating description of what can happen when language reform is attempted in an unplanned but enthusiastic fashion.' W.L. Hanaway, Choice, Vol.38, No.1.

1. Introduction 2. Ottoman Turkish 3. The New Alphabet 4. Ataturk and the Language Reform until 1936 5. The Sun-Language Theory and After 6. Atay, Atac, Sayili 7. Ingredients 8. Concoctions 9. Technical Terms 10. The New Yoke 11. The New Turkish 12. What Happened to the Language Society References

ISBN: 9780198238560
ISBN-10: 0198238568
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 200
Published: 1st November 1999
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 24.2 x 16.1  x 1.6
Weight (kg): 0.4