The Turkish language is an Altaic language, of the Turkic language branch. The origin of the Turkish language can be located around 1300 years ago, in Central Asia. This is when the first written records of Turkish began to emerge, though this was in Ottoman Turkish. Ottoman Turkish was used as the administration and governmental language of the Ottoman Empire, which spread across much of this area. Originally, the Ottoman script was used for the Turkish language, but in the early 20th century, this was replaced with the Latin alphabet.
Ottoman Turkish is what was used for official matters between 1299 and 1922AD. It was the official language used during the Ottoman period, and was a mix of Turkish, Persian, and Arabic. This is very distinctive from the everyday Turkish language that was spoken by the majority of the population in Turkish society, despite being called Ottoman Turkish.
When the Turkish Language Association was set up in 1932, the Turkish language as spoken by the majority of the people began to be reformed. Loanwords, specifically those from the Arabic and Persian languages, were replaced with Turkish equivalents. Several hundred words were replaced, not only with created words, but with Old Turkish words that were revived for this purpose.
While many modern languages had their defining and altering moments many years ago, the Turkish language is quite different. Even just a century ago, the language was so changed. Some records from earlier in the last century have had to be translated several times in order to be understood by modern speakers of the Turkish language. These days, there is not quite the discipline over the language that there used to be, with many English words becoming part of the vocabulary of the Turkish language as more technological and scientific advances are made.
The Turkish language is spoken in a lot of countries all around the world, such as Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Northern Cyprus, Kosovo, the Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Syria, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. It is also spoken by immigrant communities in Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K., and the U.S. It is the most common of the Turkic languages, with around 40% of the speakers of Turkic languages being fluent in Turkish. Essentially, the language is spoken mostly where the Ottoman Empire used to exist.
In total, there are around 83 million speakers of the Turkish language around the world, with the majority of those speakers, around 74 million, being native speakers. It is not only an official language in Turkey, but also Cyprus. It is a recognized minority language in Kosovo, Macedonia, Romania, and Iraq. In Kosovo and Macedonia, however, they are regional languages, and not used much in the city. The Turkish language is regulated by the Turkish Language Association.
The Turkish language uses a Latin alphabet, though it is a variant of it to accommodate the Turkish language itself. Because the Turkish language has gone through so many changes in the past hundred years, there are many different variants of the language. More conservative people tend to use more of the older words in the language, while younger or liberal people tend to use more of the modern replacement words.
Istanbul Turkish is considered to be the official standard version of the Turkish language, though there are many differences in dialect and form not only throughout Turkey, but many other Turkish-speaking countries.
Why Learn The Turkish Language?
Aside from being the most popular Turkic language that is spoken, and having over 80 million speakers, Turkey is also bordered by eight countries, many of which also speak some form of the Turkish language. It is therefore a very useful language to learn if you are considering travelling or working in the Southeastern Europe area, being a country that stands between Europe and Asia.
The culture of the country of Turkey is therefore very diverse, having so many surrounding influences and interesting geopolitical history. It is primarily a mix of the Oguz Turkic, Anatolian, Ottoman, and European influences. As Turkey has only recently become independent of the Ottoman Empire, it has spent a lot of money reinventing itself, and investing a large amount of resources into the arts and culture. In the cities of Turkey, you will find many museums, opera houses, and beautiful pieces of architecture. Learning the Turkish language will help you to appreciate these aspects of the culture to their fullest.