Arabic influence on Turkish.. A linguistic, cultural legacy

Once entering Turkiye, Arabic-speaking visitors would be greeted with words that sound very familiar ” Merhaba, hosgeldiniz ” meaning ” hello , welcome” with every interaction with the locals, the words seem familiar yet pronounced differently.

This sparks the question: are these words Arabic or not? With each passing day in this country, the familiar words such as “mescit” for mosque and “Kahve” for coffee as well as the Muslim greeting As-salamu alaykum but pronounced slightly differently, with more interaction with Turkish people, the visitor would discover many words shared between the two languages.

The protocol procedure of the country when receiving an official or leader must greet the soldiers by saying “Merhaba Asker”‘(Salute Soldier) the same greeting Mustafa Kemal Atatürk the founding father of the Republic of Turkiye used when addressing Turkish soldiers.

This might awaken a curiosity to look up common words between these two languages, as there are linguistic and historical ties as well as cu
ltural influences between them.

Turkish has been influenced over the centuries by various languages, such as Persian, Kurdish, English, and French, yet its Arabic influence stands out the most, including Arabic vocabulary that is continuously used in daily life and official speeches.

According to the 2005 Turkish Dictionary, there are 6,467 Turkish words of Arabic origin, as Turkish was written in Arabic script before the Republic underwent a huge language reform in 1928 by Ataturk to erase foreign influence – particularly Arabic and Persian – changed into Latin-based Turkish alphabet.

Despite these reforms, Arabic vocabulary has persisted in the language to this day, pronounced in a distinctly Turkish manner, just like any other borrowed words from various languages worldwide reflecting the identity of the region where the language is spoken.

The dictionary also showed that Turkish was influenced by several languages with Turkish vocabulary totaling around 89,000 followed by Arabic with 6,467, French wit
h 4,974, and Persian with 1,374, which proved the widespread intermix of Turkish people across different cultures and languages over the centuries.

According to a journal by a German academic publishing house Harrassowitz Verlag, around 950 AD when Turkic tribes converted to Islam, the Turkish language underwent a significant transformation, adopting many cultural elements and vocabulary due to interactions with people in Anatolia.

It added that during the Ottoman era – lasting about 600 years – Turkish continued to be heavily influenced by Arabic and Persian “Ottoman Turkish” with the establishment of the Republic of Turkiye in 1923 and the succeeding language reform, to reshape Turkish by replacing Arabic and Persian and other foreign words.

In recent decades, Turkish vocabulary and expression have continued to evolve, incorporating numerous Arabic, Persian, French, and English words much like other countries with rich civilizations, histories, and international migration across the world.

Turkiye’s his
tory undoubtedly has been shaped by numerous civilizations since ancient times, before the advent of Islam, Islamic conquest, the Umayyad and Abbasid Dynasty, and the Ottoman Empire.

This cultural and historical legacy has graced Turkiye with a rich inventory of artifacts and treasures, with the Turkish language representing a significant part of this heritage, through vocabulary diversity derived from various languages from different corners of the earth, circulated by people who have witnessed centuries of science, culture, and art.

Source: Kuwait News Agency