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Six fascinating facts about the Turkish language

If you're holidaying in Turkey and want to understand a little more about the language, here are a few facts to spark your imagination.

The Turkish language originally came from Siberia

The language originated in the Altai mountain range in Siberia, and has progressed across the steppe grasslands as nomadic tribes spread out into central Asia and beyond. Turkish comes from a family of languages known as Turkic and has nothing to do with Arabic whatsoever. Turkish is spoken by an impressive 70 million people across the globe.

Turkish changed its script

Written in Orkhon script for a thousand years, the Turkish government under president Mustafa Kemal Ataturk introduced the use of the Roman alphabet into all official communications in 1926. This marked a change in direction from the Ottoman empire and administration that had ruled Turkey from 1292.

The modern Turkish alphabet has 29 letters. Words that had previously been borrowed from Persian and Arabic have long been replaced by those of Turkish origin.

Temel's to blame

Once you come to grips with the Turkish language you'll soon realise that most of the jokes centre around a hapless character called Temel, his wife Fatma and their friend Dursun. Jokes in any language often don't translate well and these are no exception. The moment someone suggests that you listen to their latest fikra, or joke, be prepared to hear more bizarre anecdotes about this trio.

Turkish words you may already know

The Turkish influence on language has spread far and wide, and even if you haven't realised it, you're probably using words of Turkish origin in your everyday conversations. For example, the word divan comes from the Turkey. The origins for the word kiosk, also come from the Turkish word kosk, which is an open pavilion.

Knowledge of Turkish can help you learn Japanese

Turkic languages come from the Altaic group which Korean and Japanese also originate from as Japanese and Turkish have a similar sentence structure. So, if you have knowledge of the Turkish language you'll have a better understanding of languages in countries across Central Asia.

First evidence of written Turkish

There's evidence of written Turkish that dates back as far as the year 735, and was found in a valley in the Orkhon valley in Mongolia in the 19th century. However good your modern Turkish may be, you'd find it difficult to read these inscriptions as they are written in Orkhon script – otherwise known as Turkic runes.

Though this script looks very different from modern Turkish, there are similarities and the word Turk actually appears on a discovered ancient sentence. The Turkish language is still changing and you'll notice differences in dialect and vocabulary as you travel throughout the country. However, Istanbul Turkish is still the official version of the Turkish language.

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