Present Status of Persian Language in Modern Turkish: The Case of Personal Names

By Pourhossein, Shahrooz | International Journal of Linguistics, December 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Present Status of Persian Language in Modern Turkish: The Case of Personal Names


Pourhossein, Shahrooz, International Journal of Linguistics


Abstract

The study reported in this paper tends to investigate the present status of Persian language in modern Turkish language through investigating the extent of familiarity of Turkish university students with Persian loan personal names as a part of Persian loan vocabulary. 50 Turkish students were selected through purposive sampling technique and the data was collected through semi-structured interview. The findings of the study were indicative of low degree of familiarity of Turkish students with Persian loan personal names and consequently Persian loan words. A qualitative analysis of data through Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) technique also revealed interesting facts about students' both linguistic and non-linguistic knowledge about their language.

Keywords: Contact types, Persian loan personal names, Turkish language, Typological and family relations

1. Introduction

According to Winford (2003) "Most, if not all, languages have been influenced at one time or another by contact with others" (p.2). The phenomenon of contact between languages also seems to exist in varying levels in terms of type, degree, and direction. Persian and Turkish languages are among those languages which have had a pervasive contact with each other through a substantial period of time. Despite their different typological properties and family relations, the contact between these two languages and its consequences has been extensive and more significantly unidirectional; that is to say the presence and influence of one language on the other one is more extensive. As Sankoffalso puts "most language contact situations lead to unidirectional, rather than bidirectional linguistic results" (as cited in Labov, 2007). This unidirectionality is observable in case of the contact between Persian and Turkish language. The consequence of such unidirectionality has been the presence of many Persian loan words in Turkish language.1 This contact has gone through many rises and falls during its history. Though it is impossible to pinpoint how and when the first Persian word entered Turkish language, the evidence found in historical sources and accounts suggest that the contact between Persian and Turkish languages began as far back as the reign of Sassanid and Roman Empires (Korkmaz,1995). Whatever the temporal extension - almost 1500 years-this old contact has resulted in borrowing extensive number of Persian words. As a natural consequence of borrowing, loanwords go through nativization process (Chambers, 2003). This process can be observed in case of Persian loan words being Turkified through time. Nativization process is sometimes so complicated and advanced in level that the origin of the loan word becomes hard to identify. Nativization of Persian loan words on the one hand, and the disconnection of Turkish language from its only common point with Persian language (Arabic script) as the consequence of modernization reforms - also known as Kemlaist reforms - in 1924 on the other hand, have made it difficult for the young Turkish speakers to identify Persian loan words. Among these loan words are the Persian personal names which have mainly entered Turkish language through Divan literature which was heavily influenced by Persian literature. These personal names have been, and are still extensively used by modern Turkish speakers. The purpose of the present study is to evaluate the present status of Persian language in modern Turkish language through investigating the extent of familiarity of Turkish university students with Persian loan personal names. This study also tries to find out how Turkish university students identify Persian loan personal names used in their language. The study reported in this article addressed the following research questions:

1) To what extent are Turkish university students familiar with Persian loan words (personal names)?

2) How do Turkish students identify these personal names? …

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