Letter Revolution and Its Conveniences

Letter Revolution and Its Conveniences
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"Our harmonious, rich language will show itself with new Turkish letters". (1928). Mustafa Kemal Ataturk



Turks, who have used different writing styles throughout history, accepted and used Arabic letters for a long time after they became Muslims. But over time, it has been understood that it is not easy and insufficient to read and write Turkish with these letters, especially since Arabic letters are composed of consonants and Turkish has eight or nine vowels.

The late Ottoman Intellectuals generally discussed how difficult it is for Turks to learn to read and write in Arabic letters and that it takes about six years; they stated that this situation was against us and demanded that these letters be improved and reading and writing easier. Thus, the irrigation works began. However, the studies carried out for the improvement of Arabic letters could not facilitate facilitation. On the contrary, the writing styles made by using Arabic letters made it more difficult to read and write.

By the way, Avram Galanti revealed the most beautiful of these works. But in the real sense, the easiest reading and writing of Turkish has been with the New Turkish Letters created with Latin letters, and these letters were accepted thanks to Atatürk.

Turks have used different types of writing throughout history. The Göktürks (552-745) used the inscription “Göktürk”1 as in the Orhun inscriptions. The Uyghur Turks (745-970) who came after them left this writing and developed the Uyghur script by making use of the Iranian origin Sogdak script. They also used Sogdak, Brahmi, Mani, Nestorian, Tibetan, Chinese and Mongolian scripts with this script. The Karakhanids (932-1212), who came after the Uyghurs, abandoned the Uyghur script and adopted the Arabic script, after accepting Islam in 960. Except for the Cumans, who used the Latin alphabet, the other Turks who converted to Islam generally adopted the Arabic letters. Among these, besides the Central Asian states, the Great Seljuk and Anatolian Seljuk states, principalities established in Anatolia; Egypt-Syria,

Before going into the main subject, if some information is given about the history of the alphabet, it is understood that the first alphabet was the alphabet called Hieroglyphs and this alphabet was invented by the Arameans. According to this alphabet, objects and concepts are described with pictures, as in Egyptian writing. The Assyrian and Babylonian cuneiform scripts, and even those used in China and Japan, are of this type. When the Aramaeans, who are of Semitic race, thought of creating a vowel alphabet, they found an alphabet consisting of about sixteen letters. In response to these letters, they created sixteen shapes. For example, the object they accepted for the shape of the letter "A" is an ox, that is, "alaf" and they used the two horns of this animal, which is the most striking part, for the letter "A". The letter "B" from the word "bat", which means "home", again from the word "gamal" meaning "camel", the letter "C" from the curved neck of the camel, etc. they found. The Phoenicians took these letters wherever they went. These letters, which were accepted by the ancient Greeks, still carry the old Aramaic names in Greek even today: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta etc. The Romans took these letters from the Greeks and spread them to all Christian nations. Moreover, since the Torah was written with this alphabet, it gained sanctity among the Semitic races and was fanatical about the preservation of this alphabet. In the west, hyphens and dots have been added to make these letters easy to read. Those who used these letters at first started to write from right to left, but later they started to write from left to right. Since the Arabs were from the Semitic race, they took these letters and added the letters "Dat, Zı, Ğayn" to these letters. Haccac b. Joseph (d: 714), on the other hand, added dots and movements to facilitate the reading of the Arabic letters, taking the Jews as an example. Thus, the Qur'an was written with these letters. Iranians who received these letters added “P, Ç, j and Iranian K” to these letters.3

The Arabic alphabet generally consists of consonant (consonant) letters. These consonants are pronounced with the signs “a, i, u, (superior, esre, ötüre)” as stated above. These letters were sufficient for the Arabic language, but insufficient for the Turkish language. Because there are nine vowel (vowel) letters “a, e, é, o, ö, u, ü, ı, i” in Turkish languages ​​and dialects.4

The Ottomans, who started to use the Arabic alphabet, also added a large amount of Arabic and Persian words to the language they spoke; moreover, they have also taken their compositions, terms and idioms. It was not easy to learn these words, combinations, terms and idioms that Turkish people generally do not know. In short, the difficulty of the people in learning to read and write was due to both the inadequacy and difficulty of reading and writing Arabic letters and Turkish, and the Arabic and Persian words, compositions, idioms and terms that entered our language in large numbers.

In this study, the studies and opinions on this subject during the Ottoman Empire period, as well as the studies and opinions made during the Republic of Turkey, will be included until the New Turkish Letters, which were accepted in the Turkish Grand National Assembly on November 1, 1928 and entered into force on November 3, 1928; Afterwards, opinions on the subject will be expressed and comments will be made.

Studies and Opinions on Arabic Letters After Tanzimat

It is normal that everyone did not feel the need and obligation to learn to read and write during the establishment and development periods of the Ottoman Empire. Under the conditions of that period, people in need of the state were raised in Enderun or Madrasah. It can be said that the situation was not different from this in the West at the same time. But over time, the situation changed against the Ottoman state, as the number of literate people increased in the West and the development and development process started in proportion to these. In this process, the Ottomans, who realized that they were behind from Europe and that they were getting worse and worse, started to think about the reasons for the stagnation and accepted that some innovations (reforms) should be made. Among these innovation movements covering different fields, the Arabic letters used were also discussed;

In the 1839 Tanzimat-ı Hayriye Edict, which constituted an important turning point in the Ottoman state, there was no direct provision regarding the innovations to be made in the field of education. But more II. During the reign of Mahmut (1808-1839), this area was given importance, and military and civilian schools were opened for this purpose. Later, for this purpose, an institution for education was established under the name of Majlis-i Maarif (later Majlis-i Maarif-i Umumiye) in 1845. In addition, in 1851, “Encümen-i Dâniş”, which is an academy, was established. This institution has declared in its charter that it will work to simplify the Turkish language and to write works that can be understood by the public.5

After the proclamation of the Tanzimat, Munif Mehmet Efendi (later Pasha) from Antep did the first work on the alphabet. In 1862, in his speech in "Cemiyet-i İlmiye-i Osmaniye"6, he emphasized the necessity of correcting the spelling in the Arabic alphabet and facilitating reading and writing, and compared Ottoman Turkish with the writings of other nations. As a result of this comparison, he stated the inadequacy of Ottoman Turkish. He also showed with examples that a word can be read differently if it is not put into writing. After mentioning that it is also difficult to write proper names in Ottoman Turkish, he explained that it is even more difficult to write Arabic and Persian words correctly in Ottoman Turkish. Because of these difficulties, the number of literate people in the country is low; Since there are no such difficulties in the writings of Europeans, He explained that 7-8 year old children learned to read and write easily there and they did not have any difficulties. He stated that in order to achieve the aim, it is necessary to either write the words as they are and put some new signs under and above them, or to write the letters that make up the word separately and specify the necessary vowel signs in place, as in European languages.7

Again in this period, another attempt to improve the Arabic letters was made from outside. The famous Azerbaijani writer-poet Akhund-zade Mirza Feth Ali, in a Persian booklet he wrote in 1857, aimed to remove the dots of the old letters and put another adjacent sign in their place, and to find some new movements for the proper pronunciation of the words, thus, as in the writings of foreign nations. For example, although he stated that it should be written in the Latin alphabet, he later realized that it was not possible to reform the Arabic alphabet, and after that he left the Arabic alphabet altogether and focused on the Latin letters. In an article he wrote and sent from Tbilisi, he recommended the Grand Vizier Ali Pasha (d. 1871) to accept and accept the Latin letters.8

When Ahmet Cevdet Efendi (later Pasha) stated that it is necessary to find a writing way for the sounds in Turkish that cannot be shown with Arabic letters, the above-mentioned “Encümen-i Danış” focused on this subject and was included in the textbooks of the 1863-1864 school year. The Arabic script was used as harekeli (superior, esre and otüreli).9

In order to be used in printing, first İbrahim Şinasi in 1869 and Ebuzziya Tevfik in 1884 improved the Arabic letters considerably, and Ebuzziya reduced the number of letters and signs from 519 to 110.10

Ali Süavi (1838-1878), on the other hand, admitted that the Arabic alphabet was good, but also acknowledged that it had flaws and stated that it needed to be reformed. In addition, people such as Feraizci-zade Mehmet Şâkir Efendi and Şemseddin Sami Bey also expressed their views on the improvement of the Arabic alphabet. 11th

In 1896, one of the writers of the Terakki Newspaper, Hayrettin, stated that "since the Qur'an is written in Arabic letters, these letters have a sacred value among the Turks and they will not want to give up these letters", but he also explained that "unless these letters are changed, progress will not be possible". Another article in the same newspaper. On the other hand, Ebuzziya Tevfik, who wrote a summary, gave the following answer to Hayrettin:

“The progress of education and training is not possible by changing the letters, but by changing the teaching system. The light of knowledge that illuminates the whole world was born from the letters we use. If the letters are changed, no one will understand the books written so far. It is necessary to rewrite thousand-year-old works, which is impossible. Are other letters used for the Qur'an and for other sciences? It is like teaching two languages ​​to a man who cannot master one.”12

While these debates were being held in the Ottoman Empire about the improvement of writing, Albanian nationalists decided that Albanian would be the language of education and Latin letters should be accepted at the “Elbasan Congress” held on 20-26 August 1909.13 In 1910, an Albanian from Tirana named Mehmet said that “only He applied to the Grand Viziership (prime minister) for the use of Latin letters in Albania. The Grand Vizier's office sent this letter to the Shaykh al-Islam, and the Shaykh al-Islam gave a fatwa stating that this was never possible, that the Qur'an could not be written in Latin letters, and therefore the Latin script could not be used in any Islamic country.14

Namık Kemal, on the other hand, said, “If our children were given to the neighborhood school at the age of five or six, they were given a newspaper even though they downloaded hatim every two or three years and these hatims were repeated even for a few years and they scribbled on thuluth and naskh for five or six years. they cannot read. Where to write a two-line memorandum (note)... They can't even issue a written memorandum. Apart from the children, the teacher who teaches them reads newspapers and memorandums among the masters and can write a few lines of letters and memorandums, and five percent will not come to the soldier.”15 Although he said, on the subject of Latin letters, he opposed changing the writing, like Sheikh al-Islam, and said that changing the writing meant changing the religion. stated. Again, Halide Edip in 1912,

Again regarding the improvement of letters, an "Islah-ı Huruf Commission" was established by the "Letter Wetters" in Istanbul in 1911. They convened a congress in the great hall of the Ottoman Darülfünun on February 3. Müşir Gazi Ahmet Muhtar Pasha was elected as the chairman of this congress. Ispartalı Hakkı Bey, a member of the “Turkish Association”, made a speech at this congress. Hakkı Bey, in one part of his speech: “... Gentlemen! No one can deny that it is not easy to read our article correctly. I say it's not easy. No, this statement is not true. It should say not possible. Look at the children. According to our article, reading is not reading, but writhing. When the child sees the school he attends every day in writing, he cannot read, he becomes twisted… We spend all the wealth of our minds just because we will read writing. By reciting, we lose our ability to be of other use and become ignorant and crippled. I understand this with my non-Muslim friends that I work with every day. I see that my friend Haçik Efendi, Nikola Efendi did not receive as much education as I did. Maybe clever back too. But they are more businessmen. They are thrown and thrown at the places where I snarl on the job. Why? Because, like me, they did not spend their time and mind on learning words. He didn't put the capital on the cat like I did. After all this tiredness, it would not be right to say to me, "Come and learn chemistry." If they say what did you do in the world when I went to the presence of Allah, I will say that I read a little and wrote. We are in the state of peasants whose books are still not closed even though they sell their pans, pots and mats for tax debt-Poor us..”17 he shows the education and training situation in the last period of the Ottoman Empire.

As it can be understood from the speech above, Ispartalı Hakkı Bey wants something to be done about the writing. He also stated that this is a slight change in the article. Thus, he explained that our letters would not lag behind the Latin letters, and Milaslı Doctor İsmail Hakkı Bey, who worked on this subject, supported his studies. According to this study, Milaslı puts the vowels he created next to the consonants in Arabic and cuts them apart by cutting them.18

In the articles written in the journal Sebîlurreshad in 1913 (1329), it was emphasized that the Islamic world had lagged behind other nations for a long time; Then, those who dared to show that Islam hindered progress by causing this backwardness were criticized; He emphasized that the religion of Islam does not hinder progress and that if it is well researched, the real reason for the backwardness of the entire Islamic world is due to lack of education and training; He explained that the reason for the lack of education and training is the lack of the alphabet, which is the key to this. In addition, he requested the acceptance of the letters prepared by Doctor Milaslı İsmail Hakkı on this subject and adopted by many associations and their members.19

While different views were put forward about the improvement of the Arabic letters at the beginning, as time progressed, gradually "Arabic letters or Latin letters?" discussion started. The writers, thinkers and scientists of the time were divided on this issue. While some argued that Latin letters should be accepted, others opposed it. Celâl Nuri Bey (Advanced), Dr. People like Abdullah Cevdet, Hüseyin Cahit and Kılıçzade Hakkı stand out.20

Right after the Second Constitutional Monarchy, a booklet signed by Dr. Davut from Mosul was presented as a draft to the Parliament of that time and the adoption of Latin letters was offered, but this bill did not attract the attention in the excitement of that period. Likewise, the proposals of Istepan Karayan and Major Hidayet Ismail on Latin letters were also inconclusive.21 Moreover, even Abdulhamid II expressed the difficulty of writing and reading in Arabic letters and stated that it would be appropriate to use the Latin alphabet to make this work easier.22

In 1913, Celal Nuri also said that our letters are terrible, the difficulty of doing business with these letters, they do not work because they are insufficient and incomplete, the people can not easily learn what is written with these letters, this situation hinders development, and the improvement of these letters is futile, for this reason, without wasting time. that we should accept the Latin letters; He took his place among those who advocated the adoption of Latin letters, as stated above, by boldly stating that even the Romanians using the letters “sneaky” and the Germans using the “Gothic” letters accepted the Latin letters23.

To this new idea put forward by Celal Nuri, Satı Bey, the Director of Darülmuallimin at the time, said, “Chinese and Japanese alphabets are also difficult; that the difficulty of the alphabet did not hinder development, that if it were so, the Japanese would not have been able to take a single step on the path of development; He responded to those who held this view, saying that history did not witness those of nations with a great past and literature who changed their alphabets, and opposed the adoption of Latin letters.24 Satı Bey, other than Celal Nuri, wrote on the subject with Cihangirli M. Şinasi, who wrote in Tanin. He also responded to people named Ali Nusret as follows:

“Radicalism is good in things that have a simple root and can be uprooted. However, radicalism is doomed to fail in matters that have deep and intricate roots and cannot be uprooted. The Elifba issue is one of these last set of issues.”25

As it is seen, Satı Bey dealt with the issue in terms of culture and emphasized that with the adoption of the Latin letters, the society would be uprooted.

Meanwhile, there were also those who argued that the transition to Latin letters should be done gradually. They argued that by sacrificing the innovation it will make on behalf of the government and the nation, the Ministry should first publish books that will teach our language in Latin letters and distribute it to the public at a cheap price or free of charge, thus allowing one or two years to learn this language.26

While these discussions about letters were made after the Second Constitutional Monarchy, a new type of writing that Enver Pasha, the Minister of War, started to practice, especially in the army, is seen some time before the First World War (1914). According to this article, which was given names such as “Ordu Elifbassı”, uHatt-ı Cedid”, “Enver Pasha Writing”, Arabic letters were written separately; The silent letters “vav”, “elif” and “ye” were also used as vowels. Some official articles were written by the Ministry of War (Ministry of National Defense) with this letter and sent to the army, and some small books about military service were also published and published.

In the meantime, we see that Necip Asım, who is the Professor of Turkish Language History of the Darülfünun, made an effort to make the Arabic alphabet easy to write in an article titled "Some Remarks About Our Elifba" in 1332 (1916) in the Journal of the Faculty of Letters of the Darülfünun. Asım Bey stated in one part of his article, “...As it is known, all the alphabets used by civilized nations were taken from the Phoenician alphabet. However, as in everything else, East and West were separated from each other in terms of alphabet. The East maintains its old form and writes from right to left; West, on the other hand, first wrote from right to left, then resorted to the "Strongelo" method for convenience, and eventually decided to write naturally from left to right. East, on the other hand, tried to complete the deficiencies that he understood with points and movements, The West, on the other hand, turned vowels into letters and put the vowels into words. Doğu tried to preserve the basic values ​​of letters; Every nation in the West has given the letters the sound they deem necessary in their own language. This is why the Eastern and Western alphabets have apparently entered a very different situation from each other. However, if it is investigated thoroughly, it turns out that even today, all alphabets are from an original...”28.

In the rest of this article, Asım Bey explained the studies on vowels and consonants in the West with examples, emphasized what should be done in our country, and recommended the use of the letters "elif", "ye", "vav", "he" as vowels. Accordingly, the letter "elif" for the letter "A"; He envisaged the use of the letter “ye” for the letters “I” and “I”, the single letter “vav” for the letter “O”, the double letter “vav” for the letter “U”, and the letter “he” for the letter “E”.29

Necip Asım must have seen some of the shortcomings of the views he put forward, because he made some changes about letters in another article he wrote in 1924. In one part of his article, "...according to our scientific research today, there are ten vowels in our language. He developed new suggestions by saying that it is not enough to make it sufficient with four signs consisting of "Elif, wow, he, eat". After explaining these suggestions with examples, he stated that he presented this form of writing to the Minister of National Education of the time, Hamdullah Suphi.30

In short, until the adoption of Latin letters, on the one hand, Arabic letters or Latin letters? While discussing; On the other hand, studies on the improvement of Arabic letters continued. These studies, which were carried out by many different people, did not yield good results either. On the contrary, it seems that every change made to make the Arabic letters easier to write and read has made reading and writing more difficult.

Studies in the Republican Period and the Alphabet Reform

Even before the establishment of the Republic, M. Kemal Atatürk, being aware of the difficulty of reading and writing in Arabic letters, made Mazhar Müfit (Kansu) Bey, while in Erzurum in 1919, note that after the victory, the form of government would be the Republic and Latin letters would be accepted along with other reforms.3 ' Thus, when the time comes, he will carry out all the reforms one by one, one by one.

Discussions about letters continued during the National Struggle and after the acceptance of the Republic. At the Turkish Economy Congress convened in Izmir between February 17 and March 4, 1923, one of the workers' delegates, Nazmi from Izmir and two of his friends, submitted a proposal on the “Adoption of Latin Alphabets”. This proposal from the workers' organizations was not read in the general assembly. However, the President of the Congress, Kazım Karabekir Pasha, condemned this attempt and considered accepting the Latin script equated with becoming Christian.32 Karabekir Pasha summarized the following in his statement:

“This idea started in Europe. Supposedly, our Islamic letters were enough for you. So Latin letters should be taken. Some of our friends there became advocates of this idea. But in the end they realized that it was disastrous and they regretted it. The Albanian nation realized too late that this thought was a terrible disaster. Unfortunately, our Azerbaijani friends also fell into this disaster today. There are people who specifically ask our opinion on this issue. Although we said that it was terrible and that it was up to 350 million Muslims living on earth to change these letters, they marched towards accepting incomprehensible letterforms. Friends, the first words you will hear with any foreigner you meet today are: 'Turkish is a very beautiful language, it is easy. But his letters are bad' (it happens). ...I personally dealt with this issue and was involved in the Albanian revolution. I wonder if this is acceptable in Latin? The day this is accepted, the country gets mixed up. Putting everything aside, the day we accept these letters, which are in a completely different form, while our holy books, history and thousands of volumes that fill our libraries are written in this language, the whole of Europe will be given a beautiful weapon in the hands of the greatest disaster; they will say to the Islamic world, 'Turks have accepted the foreign script and have become Christians'. This is the evil idea that our enemies work with... Then there is no Latin letter to sing our language...”33 with the greatest disaster, a fine weapon will be given to the whole of Europe; they will say to the Islamic world, 'Turks have accepted the foreign script and have become Christians'. This is the evil idea that our enemies work with... Then there is no Latin letter to sing our language...”33 with the greatest disaster, a fine weapon will be given to the whole of Europe; they will say to the Islamic world, 'Turks have accepted the foreign script and have become Christians'. This is the evil idea that our enemies work with... Then there is no Latin letter to sing our language...”33

As it is understood from Kazım Karabekir Pasha's article, the issue has been discussed and evaluated in terms of religion, politics and culture.

Encouraged by this statement of Kazım Karabekir Pasha, the opponents of the Latin letters were encouraged to start publishing again, while there were also those who defended the Latin letters against it. In summary, Kılıçzade Hakkı on this subject says, “It is strange that Kazım Karabekir Pasha, who was highly educated and very intelligent, denounces the desire to have the Latin letters, which is a purely scientific problem, after so many social and historical troubles, and briefly, what does the Islamic world say as the reason for this? ? He says!... I ask Kazım Karabekir Pasha: Are we only Muslims? Or are we both Turkish and Muslim? If we are only Muslims, we need Arabic letters and the Arabic language, and the Qur'an grows as science. In addition, there are not and cannot be national and sovereignty fights and lawsuits. If we are Turkish, we need a Turkish culture - if culture is first of all, it will start from our language," he said, addressing the event in terms of culture and nationality and explaining his views. He also stated that writing the Qur'an in non-Arabic letters is not blasphemy, and the person who does this does not commit blasphemy.34

Hüseyin Cahit (Yalçın), on the other hand, states that the total number of newspapers published by all Turkish press is less than the number of a single newspaper published in a city center in Europe; After stating that there will be no demand for scientific and literary works in a country where even newspapers are not read, and that our national library is empty, he said, “We cannot reduce illiteracy in the country. Because our letters prevent this. None of us, not our children, can claim to pronounce every word correctly. Is such a language, such an education possible? Why waste time if a village boy goes to school for years and learns nothing... There is no religious difficulty in using these letters. Neither are our national letters. Then why do we underestimate the endless benefits that we can gain by accepting the Latin letters and teaching everyone to read and write in a moment?”35

In short, the debates on the improvement of letters that started after the 1860s were expressed by those who expressed the view that these letters could not be reformed after 1923, as the way to be followed in order for Turkey to develop rapidly and become a civilized state, by leaving the Arabic letters and adopting the Latin letters instead. has been done. These are the backwardness of the country; inadequacy in education and training; the scarcity of intellectuals; They have always attributed the lack of literati, scholars and thinkers to education in Arabic letters. For this reason, they argued that it is necessary to remove these letters and accept Latin letters instead. As examples, they cited Greeks and Armenians in Turkey who wrote in Greek and Armenian letters, Albanians who wrote in Latin, and even Hungarians, who were sister nations.36

There were also minorities who opposed these views of the Latin supporters during this period. Avram Galanti (1873-1961), who is of Jewish origin and one of the professors of the Istanbul Darülfünun, opposed them in his book titled "Arabic and Latin Letters and Spelling Issues in Turkish" published in 1925. He dealt with the problem in terms of literary, linguistic and economic relations among Muslims, and focused on Ottoman spelling (writing). In these matters, the language has developed a lot since the Constitutional Monarchy of 1908; that more than ten thousand new words have been entered into Turkish; that the vast majority of these words are composed of scientific and scientific idioms, and that eighty percent of these words are taken from Arabic, and that even if these words are to be translated into pure Turkish, it will not be possible; because in literature He explained that Arabic idioms and terms in science and science are very strong, so it is not possible to write them in letters other than Arabic. Since the Arabic alphabet is the alphabet of the Qur'an, it is used as a language script by Turkish, Arab and Persian nations. Thus, the language relationship of Turkish with Arabic and Persian facilitates the learning of these three languages. After making this statement, he continued his views as follows: facilitates the learning of these three languages. After making this statement, he continued his views as follows: facilitates the learning of these three languages. After making this statement, he continued his views as follows:

“Suppose we use the Latin letters and the current spellings of Arabic and Persian words used in Turkish have disappeared. What will we see? Millions of Arabs and Persians who speak Turkish and write in Arabic letters and are close to us in terms of Arabic and Persian words or are connected to our language and therefore to us, the next generation after the death of the present generation, will be completely separated from us. Then we will remain in that famous splendid isolation that the British fear in politics. After a while, the new Turkish, new Arab and new Persian generations will not recognize each other, as if barriers have been built between them. “38

Avram Galanti also deals with the problem from the economic side and states that on the other side of our border in Asia there are Arabic and Persian speaking nations, that our trade with Iran and Arab countries has always existed; He states that the nations that write in Arabic and speak Arabic and Persian learn Turkish very quickly, therefore mutual trade increases. Afterwards, he argues that an alphabet made up of 25 Arabic letters can be learned easily.39 Later, he discusses the spelling (writing) difficulty in Ottoman Turkish and explains with examples that this difficulty did not hinder growth and development because the same difficulties existed in French and German.40

Avram Galanti, in many of his writings after this work, explained that the Arabic letters do not prevent the rise, and then "How to Change Our Elifba?" In his article titled, Milaslı Doctor İsmail Hakkı Bey stated that our alphabet needs vowels, as seen in the studies accepted by Necip Asım Bey and Enver Pasha. For this, he created vowels by adding dots and dashes to the consonant letters "he, ye, vav". According to this, putting a dot on the letter “vav” means the vowel “o”, placing two dots on the vowel “ü”, putting a dash on the vowel “ö” and again putting the “med” (extension) sign “^” on the letter “vav”. vowel “u”; the letter “ye” as the vowel “i”; closed (round) consonant “he” as a vowel “e” after the letters “vav, je, ze, ra, zel, dal”; again the two-eyed letter '/ze' as the vowel 'e' before and after the other letters; He used the letter "elif" instead of the letter "a". In addition, since he used the letter "h" as a vowel "e", he put two dots on the closed (round) letter "he" to form the silent letter "h" at the end of the words: Ah, wow, shah etc.41

In short, Galanti opposed the adoption of Latin letters. In addition, to those who claim that "Foreigners can learn this language more easily if Turkish is written in Latin letters," he replied, "No nation in the world would try to make changes in any branch of its language in order to teach its language to foreigners easily, and would not even think about that change."42 In the meantime, he stated that he was in favor of the Turkishization of the language, that Turkish was not the language of terms with its current state, that the terms made in Arabic and Persian were needed until the time came, but this change should be decided after a deep scientific research was done over time.43

Indeed, this work of Galanti has been more serious and scientific than the studies done before him. However, it cannot be said that it makes reading and writing easier in a way that solves the problem; Because the writing and reading of Arabic and Persian words, compositions, idioms and terms remained a problem, since Arabic and Persian would be read and written as in the past. In order to be able to write and read them, knowledge of Arabic and Persian was still needed, and the problem of reading and writing for large masses was not fully resolved. Because only the reading and writing of Turkish words was easier compared to the past, but since some lines and dots were placed on it to make the silent letter vav a vowel, this letter could be confused with the letters fe and kaf. Moreover, with this new method, it was possible for the old-new confusion to emerge and the new generation to have difficulty reading the old.

As a result, as stated above, many intellectuals agree that in the last days of the Ottoman state, it was difficult to read and write with the current state of the Arabic letters. For this reason, articles have been written on the improvement of Arabic letters by different people and some innovations have been proposed. As a result of these reform-oriented studies, new "vowels" that are not in the alphabet have been proposed. Unfortunately, despite the new alphabet created as a result of these well-intentioned efforts, reading and writing has become more difficult. Although one of these studies was put into practice by Enver Pasha in 1913, it was more difficult to write and read with these letters, and therefore it was abolished after a while. Avram Galanti has done the best work on this subject.

While some of those debating this issue argue that the improvement of the Arabic letters is sufficient and there is no need for another innovation; some of them stated that it is not possible to reform these letters no matter how hard they try, and argued that Latin letters should be accepted. This group also attributed our backwardness to Arabic letters and stated that the condition of progress was dependent on Latin letters. There have been long discussions because of these two different views.

Some of the supporters of Arabic letters, who say that development has nothing to do with letters, argue that if these letters are left, they will become a part of religion and the Qur'an; The supporters of the Latin letter stated that the letters have nothing to do with religion. Some of them discussed the event from a political point of view and said that with the adoption of the Latin letters, the political unity of Islam would disintegrate and there would be a cultural disconnection. Another part dealt with the issue from an economic point of view and explained that if the Arabic alphabet was abandoned, other Muslim states would stop trading with us. Others have stated that if the Arabic letters are not reformed, there can be no development and scientific work.

We would like to list our views on this issue as follows:

1- In our opinion, letters have nothing to do with religion, nor do they have any holiness. With the adoption of the New Turkish Letters formed from the Latin letters, it is not possible to leave the religion. If the Qur'an was thought like this because it was written in Arabic letters, there are also curses written in these letters. However, when it comes to the message of the Qur'an, it should be considered separately, and the message is sacred no matter what language it is written in. Moreover, in the past, a Turk who does not know Arabic reads the Qur'an without understanding it; he hung it in the most important place of his house and did not fail to respect it; but she did not understand him. However, the main thing is to read it with understanding. After the adoption of the New Turkish Letters, the rate of those who could read and write increased as reading became easier, and in parallel, the rate of those who read the Qur'an increased. Atatürk was the first to have the Qur'an translated into Turkish with new letters in 1930. He even ordered that a book about the life of the Prophet be translated into Turkish along with the Qur'an. In addition, “Tajrid-i Sarih”, which is the Sahih-i Buhari Concise, was translated into Turkish by Ahmed Nâim and Kamil Miras.45

2- With the adoption of the Latin letters, there was no political dissolution. The political disintegration occurred as a result of the First World War. Those who caused this were other Muslim nations rather than Turks. They rebelled against the Turks for various reasons and demanded their independence. In short, this has nothing to do with the alphabet revolution. On the contrary, we see that almost all of the countries that had separated from us before, during Atatürk's period, became friends with Turkey thanks to Atatürk. This includes Iran.

3- In terms of culture, there may have been a period of interregnum for a while with the adoption of the Latin letters. Today, however, a new generation has grown up who can speak Ottoman Turkish, not less than the Ottoman period. This new generation transcribes and simplifies Ottoman works written in Arabic letters and transfers them to new generations. This generation learning Ottoman Turkish is increasing day by day. This will allow to compensate for the cultural disconnection about our past.

4- By accepting the new letters, the literacy rate has increased incomparably with the old; Scientific studies in Turkish have increased, Turkish has made great progress towards becoming the language of science and has been simplified. In addition, both reading and writing have become very easy. In fact, the New Turkish letters are easier to write and read than any of the Western languages. Foreigners who want to learn Turkish also accept that this is the case.

5- As mentioned above, some of the advocates of Arabic letters argued that Arabic, Persian and Urdu-speaking nations, like us, learn our language more easily because they use Arabic letters, and therefore mutual trade increases. Today, it has been found that this view is not correct. Because these countries read and learn European languages ​​using Latin letters more than we do. Commercially, they are traded with all of them.

6- Another reason to be added to all these is that with the adoption of the new Turkish letters, a written union was established between Turkey and the Turks in the Turkish-speaking Turkish homelands of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which had previously accepted the Latin letters. But later, the USSR broke this bond by accepting the Cyrillic alphabet. It should be noted here that no alphabet is an obstacle to development. There are only alphabets that are easy or difficult to learn. Those who used that alphabet explained the difficulty of the alphabet used by the Ottomans and that they learned to read and write only in six years, and this is true. It has been emphasized that a lot of time is spent learning to read and write with such an alphabet, and therefore the development is slow. For the sake of an alphabet of an already backward country, It wouldn't make sense for him to go at a tortoise's pace alongside the rapidly developing countries. Opponents of Latin letters, as examples of this in the discussions, showed the Chinese and Japanese languages ​​and alphabets as examples and explained that their alphabets and languages ​​were developed even though they were more difficult. There is some truth in this. Only the Ottoman Empire XVI. When the Ottoman Empire started to decline from the 19th century, these states entered the period of development and they continued to develop when the Ottoman Empire collapsed. When the Republic of Turkey was established, it had to do something to close this gap with other developed countries. Many people knew that it was not possible to speed up reading and writing with the Ottoman alphabet. As a result of this search, New Turkish letters were accepted. Here it should be said with ease that Turkey, thanks to the New Turkish letters, it has closed the gap with China and similar countries in education and training; Again, thanks to its easy-to-read and write letters, Turkey can close the distance between it and even more developed countries such as England, France, Japan, and even surpass these countries, provided that it works. Because it is very difficult to read and write with alphabets such as English, French and Japanese alphabets. As in the Ottoman Empire, the countries using these alphabets have the same difficulty in reading and writing, and they express this themselves. It is quite difficult to read and write with alphabets such as the French and Japanese alphabets. As in the Ottoman Empire, the countries using these alphabets have the same difficulty in reading and writing, and they express this themselves. It is quite difficult to read and write with alphabets such as the French and Japanese alphabets. As in the Ottoman Empire, the countries using these alphabets have the same difficulty in reading and writing, and they express this themselves.

In short, everyone today can read and write with ease, thanks to the Alphabet Revolution. This is what is in line with Islam. Because everyone who believes, perhaps without knowing its meaning, makes the following prayer every day: “Rabbi yessir wa la tüassir Rabbi tammim bi'l-hayr, my Lord! Make it easy, don't make it difficult!, Lord! Conclude with goodness and beauty!”. Hz. Our Prophet also said in a hadith: “Make it easy, do not make it difficult; give glad tidings, do not cause hate”. Allah says in the Qur'an: “Of course, there is ease with hardship. Indeed, with difficulty, there is ease.”46 Therefore, what is suitable for Islam and the Qur'an is what is easy. The next thing to do is to carry out the serious studies necessary for Turkish to become one of the languages ​​of the world.

1 Regarding the Göktürk Alphabet, see: Talat Tekin, “Göktürk Alphabet” 50th Anniversary of the Alphabet Revolution, Ankara, 1981, pp.27-38.

2 M. Şakir Ülkütaşır, Atatürk and the Alphabet Revolution, Atatürk High Institution of Culture, Language and History, Turkish Language Institution Publications, Ankara, undated, p. 15-16.

3 Necip Asım, “The Elifba Issue”, Türk Yurdu, İstanbul 1341, number 12, vol 2, p. 539-544; Darülfünun Faculty of Letters Magazine, Istanbul 1332, Issue 2, p. 131 -136.

4 Ulkutashir, ibid., pp. 15-16.

5 A. Cevat Eren, “Tanzimat”, Ministry of National Education Encyclopedia of Islam XI, pp.737-759.

6 For detailed information about this society, see: Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, “Cem'iyyet-i İlmiyye-i Osmaniyye”, Türkiye Diyanet Foundation Encyclopedia of Islam VII, p.333.

7 Sadettin Buluç, “Alphabet Debates in the Ottoman Era”, 50th Anniversary of the Alphabet Revolution Symposium Turkish Historical Society Published, Ankara 1981, pp.47-48.

8 Ülkü Taşır, ibid, p.18-20.

9 A.g.e., s.20.

10 A.g.e., s.20-21.

11 A.g.e., s.21-22.

12 Burhan Paçacıoğlu, Letter Revolution in Sivas Press, Sivas 1990, p. 15-16.

13 İsmail Hami Danişment, Explained Ottoman Chronology IV, Istanbul 1971, p.382.

14 Mustafa Canpolat, Development of Arabic Written Turkish Alphabet. HD 50. YS p.52.

15 Adem Akın, Münif Pasha and His Place in Turkish Cultural History, Ankara 1999, p. 125.

16 Buluç, A.g.m., s.47.

17 Ispartalı Hakkı, “Improvement of Our Letters”, Türk Yurdu I, İstanbul 1327-1328, pp.276-279.

18 For more information, see: Agm,

19 Sebilürreşad XI, Istanbul 1329, issue 271, p. 175; number 274, p. 224.

20 Ulkutashir, agc, pp. 28, 39-40.

21 Osman Ergin, History of Turkish Education V, Istanbul 1972, p. 1751-1753.

22 Sultan Abdulhamit, My Political Memoir, Istanbul 1987, p. 192.

23 Ergin, supra, 1752-1753.

24 Age, 1753.

25 Age, 1753.

26 Age, 1754.

21 Ulkutashir, ibid., p. 26-27.

28 For more information, see: Necip Asım, “Some Considerations About Our Elifba”, Darülfünun Faculty of Letters Magazine, Istanbul 1332, issue 2, year 1, p. 131-136.

29 For more information, see: Agm, p. 131-136.

30 For more information, see: Necip Asım, “Elifba Affair”, 1341(1925), Türk Yurdu, issue 12, volume 2, pp.539-544.

31 Mazhar Müfit Kansu, From Erzurum Until His Death With Atatürk I, Ankara 1988, p. 131.

32 Writing Revolution, Turkish Language Association Publications: 456, Ankara 1979, p.30.

33 Ulkutashir, ibid., pp. 43-44.

34 A.g.e, s.44-45.

35 A.g.e, s.45-47.

36 Kevser Baş, Avram Galanti's 'Arabic and Latin Alphabets and Spelling Issues in Turkish', Ankara University Institute of Social Sciences, Department of Turkish-Islamic Literature, Graduate Seminar Study, May 1997, p.3-4, (unpublished work) .

37 A.g.e., s. 11.

38 A.g.e., s.15-16.

39 A.g.e, s.20-22.

40 For more information, see: Ibid., pp. 24-38.

41 For more information, see: Avram Galanti, Arabic Letters Do Not Prevent Our Progress, Istanbul 1927.

42 For more information, see Age, the article titled “The Foreigners and the Latin Letter”.

43 For more information, see Age, article titled “An Unscientific Decision of the Baku Turkology Congress”.

44 Atatürk's Speeches and Statements III, Ankara 1981, p.85

45 Perfect Heritage, Sahih-i Buhari Concise Tecrid-i Sarih Translation and Commentary VI, Ankara 1982, p. 7-9.

46 Qur'an, 94/5

Prof. Dr. Ramazan Boyacıoğlu

Source: ATATÜRK ARAŞTIRMA MERKEZİ DERGİSİ, Sayı 50, Cilt: XVII, Temmuz 2001   

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Letter Revolution and Its Conveniences