Turkish is spoken as a native language by over 77 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania and other parts of Eastern Europe. Turkish is also spoken by several million immigrants in Western Europe, particularly in Germany.
The roots of the language can be traced to Central Asia, with the first known written records dating back nearly 1,300 years. To the west, the influence of Ottoman Turkish—the variety of the Turkish language that was used as the administrative and literary language of the Ottoman Empire—spread as the Ottoman Empire expanded. In 1928, as one of Atatürk’s Reforms in the early years of the Republic of Turkey, the Ottoman script was replaced with a phonetic variant of the Latin alphabet. Concurrently, the newly founded Turkish Language Association initiated a drive to reform the language by removing Arabic and Persian loanwords in favor of native variants and coinages from Turkic roots.
The distinctive characteristics of Turkish are vowel harmony and extensive agglutination. The basic word order of Turkish is Subject Object Verb. Turkish has no noun classes or grammatical gender. Turkish has a strong T-V distinction and usage of honorifics. Turkish uses second-person pronouns that distinguish varying levels of politeness, social distance, age, courtesy or familiarity toward the addressee. The plural second-person pronoun and verb forms are used referring to a single person out of respect. In very formal situations, double plural second-person “sizler” may be used to refer to a much-respected person.
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