Could Turkish become a world language?

Monday, May 25, 2009

That's the title of an article here. The short answer is no, but Turkish could certainly attain a status similar to that of Russian (base population around 100+ million plus useful in a ton of other countries nearby) if it plays its cards right. The article itself is about the Turkish language Olympics; not all that interesting, but the comments below are. One writes:

The first step is to make Turkish a common language among Turkic countries. Arabic has a lot of dialects but (as far as I know) Egyptian Arabic has become their common tongue, and they can speak with each other without a translator. We can only understand Turks in Kirkuk, Azerbaijan and Iran, and Turkmen Turkish to a certain extent with a bit of work...when 250 million Turks/Turkic people can understand and speak Istanbul Turkish then Turkish will become a world language.
There are a few unknowns that need to be settled before one can tell what the future of Turkish will be like. Here are Turkic languages from Turkey to Central Asia:

And out of those, here are some factors that could influence the language's future:

- Cyprus - whether it manages to enter the EU as a unified state or not.
- Azerbaijan - relations between Turkey and Armenia have been improving lately and if a settlement can be reached between Azerbaijan and Armenia can be reached this would be beneficial for the whole Caucasus
- Turkmenistan - Berdimuhammedov has only been president for two years and it remains to see how the country will turn out. Before the last president died it was almost completely isolated and quite backwards (see Ruhnama for details). Now the IMF is welcoming reforms in Turkmenistan.
- The status of Turkish in smaller European nations and their status vis a vis the EU. Not wanting a huge number of Turks in the EU is a common theme against having Turkey join, but almost a million Turks have already joined with the accession of Bulgaria for example, and many other nations wanting to join have significant Turkish minorities too. Macedonia has almost 80,000 Turks (4% of the population) for example.

Populationwise Turkish is doing quite well, with an increase of about a million speakers per year.

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