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Ottoman History
Ottoman History

Ataturk's language reforms

In 1920s and 1930s Turkey things changed rapidly. The speed of the reform movement that had started in the nineteenth century accelerated after Mustafa Kemal Atatürk came to power in 1923 and launched his modernization program soon afterwards. In order to enable Turkey to regain its position among the world’s leading nations the Turkish elite looked West. Few terrains escaped their attention. Atatürk’s language reforms changed both the written and the spoken language, so that linguistically too there would be a break with the Ottoman-Islamic past.

Language Reform: From Ottoman to Turkish

Within the Ottoman Empire, the Turks had constituted merely one of many linguistic and ethnic groups. In fact, for the ruling elite, the word Türk connoted crudeness and boorishness. Members of the civil, military, and religious elites conversed and conducted their business in Ottoman Turkish, which was a mixture of Arabic, Persian, and Turkish. Arabic remained the primary language of religion and religious law (see Religious Life, this ch.). Persian was the language of art, refined literature, and diplomacy. At an official level, Ottoman Turkish usually was used only for matters pertaining to the administration of the empire. Ottoman Turkish not only borrowed vocabulary from Arabic and Persian but also lifted entire expressions and syntactic structures out of these languages and incorporated them into the Ottoman idiom.

Why did Ataturk change the language and the alphabet of modern day Turkey?

Atatürk changed the script firstly because the Arabic script did not work well for the Turkish language, mainly because of the Turkish vowel system. Classical Arabic had three long and three short vowels, Turkish has eight. Specific vowels were all impossible to show in the Arabic alphabet without a special notation that might have been developed, and it never even happened. This caused Turks not using their language correctly. Arabic script is already more difficult to learn ( imagine what happens when it doesn't even suit well for a language.

Prof. Dr. Mina Urgan who has studied linguistics and could fluently speak Turkish, English, and French plus a little from some other languages, has a part about that in her memoir. I'll add a picture of the original text for those who can speak Turkish. She says,

Language Reform: From Ottoman to Turkish

History records few instances of a government's altering the language of its people as drastically and imposing that language as forcefully (and, on balance, as successfully) as in the Turkish case. Atatürk considered language reform to be an essential ingredient in the creation of a new Turkey and of new, modernized Turks, and he viewed the revised Turkish language as one of the ways to create a new national identity.

Ataturk’s reforms

Atatürk was a military genius, a charismatic leader, also a comprehensive reformer in his life. It was important at the time for the Republic of Turkey to be modernized in order to progress towards the level of contemporary civilizations and to be an active member of the culturally developed communities. Mustafa Kemal modernized the life of his country.
Atatürk introduced reforms which he considered of vital importance for the salvation and survival of his people between 1924-1938. These reforms were enthusiastically welcomed by the Turkish people.

Chronology of Reforms
1922 Sultanate abolished (November 1).
1923 Treaty of Lausanne secured (July 24). Republic of Turkey with capital at Ankara proclaimed (October 29).
1924 Caliphate abolished (March 3). Traditional religious schools closed, Sheriat (Islamic Law) abolished. Constitution adopted (April 20).

Ottoman Turkish alphabet

The Ottoman Turkish alphabet (Ottoman Turkish: الفبا‎ elifbâ) is a version of the Perso-Arabic alphabet used to write Ottoman Turkish until 1928, when it was replaced by the Latin-based modern Turkish alphabet.
Though Ottoman Turkish was primarily written in this script, non-Muslim Ottoman subjects sometimes wrote it in other scripts, including the Armenian, Greek, Latin and Hebrew alphabets.

The earliest known Turkic alphabet is the Orkhon script. The various Turkic languages have been written in a number of different alphabets, including Cyrillic, Arabic, Greek, Latin, and some other Asiatic writing systems.

Atatürk's Reforms

Atatürk's Reforms (Turkish: Atatürk Devrimleri) were a series of political, legal, religious, cultural, social, and economic policy changes that were designed to convert the new Republic of Turkey into a secular, modern nation-state and implemented under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in accordance with Kemalist ideology. Central to these reforms were the belief that Turkish society would have to Westernize itself both politically and culturally in order to modernize.[1]

Political reforms involved a number of fundamental institutional changes that brought end of many traditions, and followed a carefully planned program to unravel the complex system that had developed over the centuries.[2]

Turkish alphabet/reform

The Turkish alphabet (Turkish: Türk Alfabesi) is an alphabet derived from the Latin alphabet used for writing the Turkish language, consisting of 29 letters, seven of which (Ç,Ğ, I, İ, Ö, Ş, and Ü) have been modified from their Latin originals for the phonetic requirements of the language. This alphabet represents modern Turkish pronunciation with a high degree of accuracy and specificity. It is the current official alphabet and the latest in a series of distinct alphabets used in different eras.

The letters of the Turkish alphabet are:
Capital letters

P R S S T The

Lower case letters

a b c three d is f g ğ h I i j to l m n O He p r s s t in u v Y from
Of these 29 letters, eight are vowels (A, E, I, İ, O, Ö, U, Ü); the 21 others are consonants.

Şemseddin Sami Fraşeri

Şemseddin Sami Fraşeri, also called Semseddin Sami Bey Fraseri orSami Fraşeri, Fraşeri also spelled Frashëri (born June 1, 1850, Fraşer,Albania, Ottoman Empire—died June 18, 1904, Istanbul) author and lexicographer who was a leading figure in 19th-century Turkish literature.

Born into an established Albanian Muslim family, Fraşeri was educated at the Greek school of Janina and was also given lessons in Turkish, Persian, and Arabic by private tutors. After moving to Istanbul, he began a career injournalism and founded the newspaper Sabah (“Morning”) in 1875. He also became associated with the new Turkish writers. He translated .

Shamsaddin Sami

Shamsaddin Sami (Frashëri), the ethnic Albanian Ottoman writer, lexicographer and encyclopedist. Talat and the Turkish-i is the first novel Taaşşuk Fitnat's (1872), the first Turkish encyclopedia Kamus-ul Alam's (1889-1898) and modern in the sense that the first comprehensive Turkish dictionary Kamus-i Türkî'n's (1901) is the author . Also Kamus-i Fransevî has written Arabic dictionaries called from French and Kamus-i Arabi.

With his brother Fraşerel Abdul Bey has developed the first Albanian alphabet using Latin and Greek letters (1879) and Albanian wrote a grammar book (1886). Brother Naim Fraser Albanians are considered to be the founder of the national poetry. Galatasaray Sports Club has established is the father of the founder of the Ali Sami Yen.

Sami Frashëri

Sami Frashëri (Turkish: Şemseddin Sami, June 1, 1850 – June 18, 1904) was an Albanian writer, philosopher, playwright and a prominent figure of the Rilindja Kombëtare, the National Renaissance movement of Albania, together with his two brothers Abdyl andNaim. He accepted and supported the Turkish nationalism and laicism[1] and had close relationships with Turkish nationalist intellectuals such as Veled Chelebi (İzbudak) and Nedjib 'Asim (Yazıksız).[2]

Frashëri was one of the sons of an impoverished Bey from Frashër (Fraşer during the Ottoman rule) in the District of Përmet. He gained a place in Ottoman literature as a talented author under the name of Şemseddin Sami Efendi and contributed to the Ottoman Turkish language reforms.

Kösem Sultan: ruler of the ottoman empire

(Note: Be careful when you Google her name. Nothing bad, but there is a Kosen Sultan who appears to hold the Guinness record for being the world’s tallest man, so not to be confused.)

So the “harem” is one of my favorite not-favorite Orientalist tropes. (“Favorite not-favorite” is one of my favorite phrases.) It’s also a very misunderstood concept, heavily romanticized in Western art and literature and imagined as a sexually debauched space where scantily clad women lounge on divans smoking hookah and pleasuring, well, pretty much any dude who walks in the door. You can see why it’s been popular.

The woman who oversaw 3 generations of the Ottoman Empire

Kösem Sultan was one of the most powerful women in Ottoman history. She found herself in the midst of political chaos after her husband Sultan Ahmed I died, but she eliminated her opponents even though she suffered a bitter death. While some historians say she was a master manipulator, others think she was a prominent actor who helped ensure the empire's survival

Kösem Sultan

Kösem was born Anastasia and was of Greek ancestry. While still young, she was sent to Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire. There she was sold, at the age of 15, to the harem of Sultan Ahmed I. The etymology of harem is Arabic, meaning ‘forbidden because sacred/important”. Harems were women’s quarters, intended to keep them safe. These harems contained wives, daughters, concubines, distant female relatives, and slaves. It was here that Anastasia’s name was changed to Mâhpeyker. She also converted to Islam from Orthodox Christian, the major religion of the Empire. Later Sultan Ahmed changed her name again, this time to Kösem.

Women Who Ruled: Mahpeyker Kosem Sultan of Ottoman Turkey

For women who ruled, it seemed as if power and enduring happiness could not often coexist. While they lived, these women proved they could be as competent, decisive, and cruel when necessary, similar to their male counterparts.

In the seventeenth century, Sultan Mehmed III fathered a son, Ahmet I, who became ruler of the Ottoman Empire in 1603, at the age of thirteen. Until then, Ahmet had spent several years in isolation within Topkapi Palace's Golden Cage, an apartment reserved for princes younger than the reigning sovereign. Two years later, a fifteen year-old Greek girl born in 1590 entered his harem, a slave re-named Kosem. Daughter of a priest, Kosem entered the harem and in 1612, bore him their first son, Murad. She later became the mother of the princes Ibrahim and Bajezit.

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