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August 4, 2010 2:40 PM Subscribe
Which of the thousands of neologisms coined in the Turkish language reforms of the 1920s and 30s stuck, which ones didn't--and why?
posted by lapsangsouchong to Writing & Language (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
In the great Turkish language reforms of the 1920s and 1930s, thousands of new words were coined--mostly 'new old' words from supposedly authentic Turkish roots. Many of these new words stuck, supplanting or standing alongside words that Ottoman Turkish had borrowed from Arabic and Persian. But plenty of others proved ephemeral, whether because the existing 'foreign' word was too solidly anchored in the language or because they lost out to other competing neologisms.
I know where I can read more about the politics and history of the language reform, the 'Sun Language' thesis, and so on. But here I'm interested in language in actual use. Can anyone tell me (or point me towards the relevant scholarly work) which of the new words stuck, which ones evaporated, and--in each case--why? I have a couple of hopefully plausible speculations about the 'why', but no empirical data. The political/historical stuff I've read about the reforms may cite a few neologisms, mention a couple of old words that were replaced, or say that not all of the new coinages survived, but it doesn't give any systematic empirical linguistic data, or analyze it in the way I'm looking for here.
As an aside, I'd also be interested to hear about when the swarms of loan words from French, up to and including 'otantik', made their way into Turkish, and--if it was before 1923--whether they were subjected, during the reforms, to the same attempts at purging as those from Arabic and Persian. (I suspect not.)
References in English, French, or (gulp) Turkish are all fine. References in other languages will go a bit further down my 'to do' list, but it'd be nice to know that they're there.
I have paged languagehat.