Turkish has the largest number of unisex names

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Akdenizin, Türkiye'deki, Antalya kıyıları - Coast of Antalya in Turkey on the Mediterranian Sea (Akdeniz). The word Deniz is also a name.

Interesting study here. It's actually about Turkey, not specifically Turkish, but since Turkish is the official language there it's more or less one and the same. It doesn't give any information on the other countries/languages studied, so there could be one out there with more unisex names, but we can probably assume they took a look at a number of European countries and maybe some in the region like Iran and some Arab nations.

Here's what it says:
At 517, Turkey leads the world in names that are commonly used for both boys and girls, with roughly the same frequency, making it nearly impossible to be able to tell without knowing for sure the gender of the Ada, Ayhan, Ümit, Işık, Muzaffer, İlhan or Deniz you're communicating with.
Ada means island, Ümit means hope, Işık means light, Muzaffer means victorious, İlhan is a kind of provincial ruler, Deniz means sea, and as far as I know Ayhan doesn't mean anything. That's actually one cool thing about Turkish names, that a lot of the time you're learning a new word at the same time instead of a word that doesn't apply to anything else.

One good thing about unisex names is that it makes it harder to discriminate on a resumé.

This reminds me of something I thought about IALs - a lot of them are created based on a common linguistic foundation that people have, in being able to identify words like agro for field in Ido because it's related to agriculture, that sort of thing. Two areas not identified though are:
  • names,
  • archaic terms.
Names like Leonidas that most people know can be used to learn the words lion (leono) and the suffix -ido (descendent, son of). Archaic terms include Shakespearean-type thees and thous, quoth, verily, nay, hither, and so on. They shouldn't have full weight as modern vocabulary would, but as a tie-breaker names and well-known archaic terms can be useful.


Anonymous said...

This is an interesting study, because Turkish doesn't make distinction between genders in the third person either. In theory the language should promote equality.

In terms of job applications though, it is common for Turkish CVs to either state gender or include a photo (in general they seem to contain more personal information than an Anglo-Saxon CV would).

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