What Languages Are Spoken In Turkey

Learning Turkish through flash cards.
Learning Turkish through flash cards.

Official Language Of Turkey

Under the Constitution of Turkey: Article 42, the Turkish language is established as the official language of the country. The language is also the most spoken in the country. More than 30 ethnic languages exist in Turkey, but only small numbers of people speak a few of the ethnic languages. With the dominance of the Turkish language, other languages are regarded to as minority languages.

Languages within Turkey can be divided into various groups depending on their origin, the number of speakers and the nature of the language. The common divisions are the ethnic languages, immigrant, foreign, and sign language. These languages are under the influence of the ancient and modern interactions between local Turks and foreigners during the various phases of Turkish history.

Ethnic Languages Of Turkey

Turkey is an ethnically diverse country with different ethnic languages spoken in the country. The common ethnic languages spoken in Turkey are Turkish, Kurmanji, Arabic and Zazaki. Other ethnic languages have very few speakers including Turkish dialects, Balkan, Laz, Armenian and Circassian languages. Turkish is the most widely spoken ethnic language with more than 70% of users. The use of Turkish as the official language and educational language has contributed to its wide growth. The widespread use of Turkish language has negatively affected other ethnic languages by reducing their active use in daily interactions. Kurmanji (Northern Kurdish) is the most widely spoken ethnic minority language. The language consists of five major dialects: northwestern Anatolian, southern, Serhed, and southwestern Kurmanji. The Arabic community of Turkey uses Arabic as their mother tongue especially the Mesopotamian Arabic dialect. Arabic has also been introduced as an elective mother tongue language in the Turkish curriculum. Spoken by the Zaza ethnic community is the Zazaki language, which has a close relationship with Kurdish. The language has more than 1 million speakers. The language has three major dialects influenced by the traditional homelands of the Zaza in the Caspian Sea and northern Iran.

Immigrant Languages Spoken In Turkey

Modern immigration and settlement patterns in Turkey have led to the introduction of ethnic languages spoken by the immigrants. The most spoken immigrant languages in Turkey include Crimean, Georgian, Kabardian, Bosnian, Albanian, Adyghe, and Tatar.

Foreign Languages Spoken In Turkey

Interactions with the western world and foreigners have led to the development of foreign languages in Turkey. Changing times and modern interactions also necessitate the growth of these languages. English, German, and French are the common foreign languages used in Turkey. English has a wider coverage among foreign languages. The languages are taught in Turkish schools as elective courses along with other foreign languages like Italian. Despite the use of foreign languages in education, the efficiency of Turks to communicate in foreign languages is low.

Sign Languages Of Turkey

With more than 50,000 Turkish citizens with hearing impairments, sign languages have developed in the country. Turkey has two main sign languages, the Mardin sign language, and the Turkish sign language. Mardin is an old sign language that originated in the town of Mardin. Only the older people mostly in villages use the language. More users have adopted the Turkish sign language that probably developed from the Ottoman sign language. It is the most commonly used language by the deaf community in Turkey.

Impact Of Language In Turkey

The use of various languages has had its effects on Turkey. The vast use of Turkish has, for example, led to the reduced use of local ethnic languages. This reduction in usage threatens the continuity of languages as very few people (especially the older generation) communicate in the language. The introduction of foreign language in the curriculum puts the country in a better position when relating with foreign organizations and nations.


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