Expanding Horizons: The Global Growth of the Turkish Language
While Turkey and the U.S. are NATO allies on paper, the increasing tension between the two countries has created multiple domestic and international headlines – all of which can feel heart-stopping for U.S. business professionals facilitating relationships in Turkey or with Turkish-speaking prospects around the globe. Some of the most recent headlines:
- US. Punishes Turkey By Canceling Sale of Jets (NYT)
- How the US-Turkey Relationship Fell Apart (vox.com)
- Could the United States Crush Turkey’s Economy? (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)
In a time when the number of Turkish-language speakers is rising worldwide, these headlines are alarming if your business or NGO works to facilitate relationships with Turkish nationals and ex-pats. Turkey is considered the 21st-Century’s First Muslim Power, a threatening concept for many in the current geopolitical climate.
If you are doing business with a company or organization in Turkey or pursuing a professional relationship with Turkish-speaking partners or clients, you may feel as if you’ve been set onstage in a complex diplomatic ballet. Turkey is developing a growing friendship with Russia, which adds another level of strain to Turkish-U.S. relations. Also, the European Union (EU) is growing increasingly critical of Turkey as a result of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s favoring of Islamist-oriented policy. In addition to the EU’s criticism of the Turkish government’s human rights violations, EU officials hold that Turkey violates the Copenhagen Criteria for EU membership.
Thus, diplomats and corporate professionals around the globe find themselves navigating tricky waters to foster healthy, loyal, and positive business relationships while simultaneously taking into account the historical and political tensions that may exist between clients in Russia, the EU, and Turkey.
However, the more you learn about the Turkish language and culture, and work with professional language service providers who can facilitate diplomatic communications, the easier it is to forge positive, and long-lasting relationships with both Turkish-speaking prospects as well as other international contacts with special interests in Istanbul or Ankara.
Native Turkish speakers in Turkey – and abroad
Turkey isn’t the only place where you’ll find Turkish in written and spoken forms. While Turkey is home to more than 72 million native-speaking Turks, various dialects are spoken worldwide, mostly in the regions and countries that used to belong to the Ottoman empire, with the highest concentrations of Turkish speakers found in Cyprus, as well as Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, Albania, Kosovo, and the Republic of Macedonia. As a matter of fact, Cyprus has requested that Turkish be added as an official language of the European Union, even though Turkey is not a member state. One of the reasons is that Cyprus includes the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a de facto republic recognized only by Turkey.
Several European countries also have large numbers of Turkish immigrants, including regions of Eastern and Western Europe, especially Germany. As a result of thousands of years of Turkish settlement around the globe, the Turkish language was notably influenced by other languages, such as Arabic, Farsi (Persian), and French. Dialects vary greatly depending on where the native speaker lives, which makes it critical to find a Turkish translator or interpreter who is familiar with your target audience’s dialect.
Accuracy in the written language is crucial to your mission
Because English is devoid of accents or specialized characters in our written language, English speakers often discount how important these characters are when it comes to accuracy in the written form. The Turkish alphabet includes 29 letters and a range of accents or marks called diacritics or glyphs to denote specific pronunciation.
This is a crucial point to understand; while Turkish is not considered a tonal language, the addition or subtraction of a key alphabetical accent alters the way the word is pronounced – and that alters the word’s meaning. For example: kâr /car/ means “profit”, while kar /kar/ means “snow.” In that example, the glyph above the â is called a circumflex.
Other accent marks used in Turkish include the:
- umlaut and dieresis (ü or ï)
- cedilla (ç)
- breve (ğ)
Another “alphabet point” worth noting is the Turkish undotted ‘ı’, which becomes ‘I’ when capitalized, vs. the letter ‘i’, which becomes İ when capitalized.
Professional Turkish language services keep you in-sync
Enlisting high-quality language services from relevant, experienced translators and interpreters is the surest way to keep your company in-sync with the rise of Turkish in the world while continuing to foster a positive brand image worldwide.
Contact the experts at Chang-Castillo and Associates to learn more about our Turkish translation and interpretation services. We’re considered the platinum standard in our industry and we look forward to showing you why.