Earlier on this blog, I wrote that “no one has started rendering Turkish in Arabic script, as a way of disavowing Kemalism.” But apparently I spoke too soon! From Hürriyet:
Ottoman Turkish should be taught in schools, Erdoğan says
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has once again said Ottoman Turkish should be taught in schools, accusing the early Republican period’s “language revolution” of “destroying” the Turkish language.
“It is one of the biggest problems in recent history that our language has become a subject of political discussions. In the name of ‘language revolution,’ our Turkish was attacked by unpleasant, dull and soulless words.
The bond between our nation and its old civilization was tried to be weakened,” Erdoğan said on March 15 at the award ceremony of a high school’s composition contest at the presidential complex in Ankara.
Ottoman Turkish is an old form of Turkish using Arabic script, with many words borrowed from Persian and Arabic. As part of cultural reforms to create a Western-style secular state, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of modern Turkey, replaced Ottoman Turkish with the Latin alphabet.
Paul Halsall comments:
I think Erdogan has a certain justification. As it stands now many modern Turks cannot understand anything written 80 years ago or earlier.
I seem to recall that the Chinese Communist Party considered a move to using only pinyin but did not precisely because it would create cultural barrier with the past that would be uncrossable for most future Chinese.
Lord Kinross (Patrick Balfour) in his travelogue Within the Taurus: A Journey in Asiatic Turkey (1954) p. 13, recounts how upset many Turks were on being forced to give up the fez, and the widespread approval of King Edward VIII in Turkey because on a visit to Istanbul in 1936 the then Prince of Wales had asked why no Turkish music was heard on the radio. It had been prohibited by Ataturk, but thanks to the Prince’s inquiry it was once again played on the radio for all.