Atatürks Language Reform
ATATÜRKS LANGUAGE REFORM
Please, close your eyes and imagine. Think that if Atatürk hadn’t
changed our language! Do you think we could have the same
opportunities we have today and would you have a bright future? I don’t
By Atatürk’s magnificent intelligence and his great talent to
foresee the future, Turks started to live with their own language.As
you can guess, Atatürk strived a lot to give the Turkish language as a gift
to the turkish public. We will tell our hero’s efforts and Turkish
language’s history step by step.
For thousand of years Turks used to claim Ottoman Turkish and
Arabic Alphabet. Three languages were put together and Ottoman Turkish
was formed. These three languages were Arabic, Persian language and pure
Turkish. So Turkish started to disappear day by day.
On the other hand, this alphabet came into force by Islam’s
acceptance.It wasn’t suitable for the Turkish language which is rich in
vowels. Also printing something in the old Arabic Alphabet was a big
problem in those days, because there were six hundred and twelve
different characters in Arabic Alphabet. The average Turkish citizen
couldn’t read or write easily.It made a big difference between the
average citizens and the educated people. So naturally, rich classes were
the privileged ones.
From this point of view, Atatürk thought that the Turkish people
must have a language which is special for literature and science, like
other modern countries.The alphabet which would be chosen must be
suitable for Turkish language and must be easy to learn.At the same time it
musn’t have characters more than necessary. Thus all kinds of books
could be published, as a result the country’s culture could rise.
However there were some who were doubtful about the
proposed reform. They thought it would be very difficult to translate
all the past and print them again. Accordingly, it would hold up the
development of public education. Besides, people who had already
finished school had to learn everything again.
In spite of all these negative ideas, Atatürk believed in the
necessity of changing the alphabet and as a matter of fact on November
1st 1928 it was put into effect at the end of the voting in Turkish
Parliament. The alphabet which was accepted, has been the most
suitable one for the requiring properties, it consists of twenty-nine
letters; eight vowels and twenty-one consonants.
Now it was the time to apply this new language. Atatürk
asked the experts, ” How long would it take? ” Most of them replied:
” At least five years. ” ” We shall do it, ” Atatürk said, ” within five
After that the campaign for education became more organised
and evening classes were opened for workers. Improvised classes were
started in many places and attended by children and elderly people.
Also Atatürk joined these organizations. He carried his blackboard
everywhere and he taught the new alphabet himself.Since than people
called him the ” Teacher Chief “
As a result of all these efforts up to 1937, eighty-five percent
of people learnt this alphabet very well .
We are thankful to Atatürk for Latin alphabet. Turkey is the only
modern country among Islamic countries. If it hadnt been for Latin alphabet
we wouldnt have been able to catch up to the contemporary world.