Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 25th Oct 2012 14:52 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone, one of its most prominent and most controversial features was the on-screen keyboard. In as world dominated by devices with physical keyboards, it was seen as a joke, something that could never work. We know better by now, of course, but while I still prefer the physical feel and clicks of a real keyboard, a recent new endeavour of mine has made me appreciate the on-screen keyboard in a whole new way.
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What about Turkish?
by earksiinni on Thu 25th Oct 2012 19:25 UTC
Member since:

Since you expressed an interest in Japanese and are now learning Korean, why not take up a language in the same family (Altaic) that is much closer to your swamp* and easier to learn the orthography of: Turkish.

Like Korean, political/rational reform has determined Turkish's system of writing. The Arabic script was replaced with Latin characters in the 1920's at the behest of Ataturk, first president of Turkey/father of the country/hero figure, who decided that the difficulties of the Arabic script were hindering literacy. I don't think that Arabic script is inherently more difficult to learn than any other, but it was part of his push to make Turkey a European and "modern" country.

However, from an orthography nerd's perspective (who, me?), the switch to Latin script was legitimate because of how Ottoman Turkish in particular used the Arabic script. Unlike English, which is a hodgepodge in its vocabulary but fairly pure in its grammar, Ottoman Turkish is a combination of Turkish, Arabic, and Persian with Western influences in its vocabulary, grammar, and orthography. I should know, I've studied it, and it's a complete mess.

Moreover, the orthography continues to get simpler as vestiges of Arabic script are continually purged away. The "a" with a circumflex over it has traditionally corresponded to the "thin alif" sound, roughly corresponding to the long vowel "a". They've gotten rid of that now, the "they" being the Turk Dil Kurumu, which is something like your Taalunie. Except now with the Islamists in power they are trying to bring back Arabic features into the language, like rearranging the order of the alphabet from "ABCDEF..." to "ABJDHW...", etc.

Just my two cents ;-)

*Just across the border in Deutschland, that is ;-)

Edited 2012-10-25 19:31 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: What about Turkish?
by jal_ on Fri 26th Oct 2012 09:00 in reply to "What about Turkish?"
jal_ Member since:

Though the Turkish languages are cool, Altaic is of course highly controversial as a family, and there is no similarity at all between Turkish and Korean.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: What about Turkish?
by earksiinni on Fri 26th Oct 2012 09:07 in reply to "RE: What about Turkish?"
earksiinni Member since:

I will defer to your wisdom on this, but while Altaic is controversial my understanding is that the real controversy is over the so-called "Ural-Altaic" formation, which supposedly would bring in Finnish and Hungarian, as well.–Altaic_languages

My point was more that there are major non-Indo-European languages in Europe...or close to Europe, depending on who's counting.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: What about Turkish?
by IndigoJo on Sun 28th Oct 2012 15:13 in reply to "What about Turkish?"
IndigoJo Member since:

The letter C in Turkish is pronounced like the English J, or the Arabic Jeem (or CH if it's got a cedilla, which in Persian is like Jeem but with three dots instead of one). The J is equivalent to ZH (i.e. the S in "television"). So the letter C is in the right place in Turkish, both from a Roman and Arabic point of view.

There are several non-Indo-European languages closer to Thom's home than Turkish, though: Basque and Hungarian. (And Finnish, and Estonian.) But I think he wanted something with another alphabet.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: What about Turkish?
by earksiinni on Sun 28th Oct 2012 18:51 in reply to "RE: What about Turkish?"
earksiinni Member since:

The move, along with many other Islamist reforms taking place right now, isn't based on technical considerations as any Turk or anyone familiar with Turkish history and politics is aware of. What you've pointed out is merely the pedagogical basis on which the current orthography was adopted: "ABC" was chosen because that is the standard Latin order, but "C" has a "J"-like sound because the third letter in the old alphabet is "jeem" (or in Turkish transliterated as "cim", not to be confused with the Persian "j").

Your post does, however, show how the current government does do an excellent job of selling its reforms as secular to a politically overcorrect West eager for a poster boy. Turkey proves that neo-liberalism works, that a patronizing "Islamic democracy" works (because, you know, Muslims aren't capable of grown-up democracy), and that Muslims won't blow the world up (well, you know, as long as they keep it in Syria). So long as economic interests aren't harmed, we're happy to eat up such "technical" reasons for alarming reforms whose Turkish supporters and detractors alike love and detest for their religious nature, not for any other reason. The head scarves in universities ban thus got reported in the Western media as an issue of civil rights, but obviously no one in the country thought of it that way.

A female American journalist explained when she was asked how she felt as a single woman going through Qandahar and the most dangerous parts of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan by herself. She wittily replied that Afghanistan was a country of men who hate the government with big beards and guns riding around in the back of pick up trucks: her native Montana, in other words. But we all know that Afghanistan isn't Montana. And so Turkey isn't exactly Norway.

Regarding non-Indo-European languages in Europe, I was trying to avoid offending anyone when I used the politic phrase "major language" in my previous follow-up post, but probably his time would be better served form a commercial point of view learning Turkish rather than Basque. But yes, Basque is also an option, as are Hungarian and Finnish. I figured there was at least some subconsciously professional motivation since Thom is a professional translator

Edited 2012-10-28 18:52 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2