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Why Turkey Has Changed Its Name

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Why Turkey Has Changed Its Name

One hundred years since Turkey was declared its own state, the Turkish government this week sent a letter to the United Nations formally asking that the country change its name to Türkiye.

The letter was sent to UN secretary general António Guterres by the Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, with a spokesperson for Guterres explaining the name change became effective 'from the moment' the letter was received.

Hear the name change in action below:

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The title of Türkiye hasn't been plucked out of the blue, but is in fact the way the name of the country is already spelled in Turkish. Rather than the existing, literal English pronunciation of 'tur-key', the new title is pronounced 'tur-key-yay'.

It's the name the country has called itself since its declaration of independence in 1923, but now the government wants to formally extend the title to the rest of the world to replace other variations such as the German, 'Türkei', and the French, 'Turquie', as well as the English, 'Turkey'.

The move towards the official name change began in December 2021, when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced in a statement that the government would be using Türkiye in all official forms of activities and correspondence in the future.

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Erdogan explained the title 'represents and expresses the culture, civilization, and values of the Turkish nation in the best way' - but the reason the change has been formalised? Just think about your Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner.

Turkey requested its name change in a letter to the UN. Credit: Alamy
Turkey requested its name change in a letter to the UN. Credit: Alamy

Millions of people tuck in to a big dinner focused around turkey each year, so according to Turkish state-owned media TRT World, the decision to take on the name Türkiye is part of an effort from the country to disassociate itself from the bird.

In an article explaining the decision, TRT World described how Googling 'Turkey' results in 'a muddled set of images, articles, and dictionary definitions that conflate the country with Meleagris – otherwise known as the turkey, a large bird native to North America – which is famous for being served on Christmas menus or Thanksgiving dinners'.

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“Flip through the Cambridge Dictionary and ‘turkey’ is defined as ‘something that fails badly’ or ‘a stupid or silly person’," the network continued.

Turkey changed its name to disassociate from the bird. Credit: Pixabay
Turkey changed its name to disassociate from the bird. Credit: Pixabay

Turkey - the bird - originated in the Americas, but was given its name due to its similarities to the guinea fowl which had been imported through the Turkish region.

In a bid to help the name change catch on, Erdoğan demanded that exported products should feature the words 'Made in Türkiye' rather than 'Made in Turkey', while a government-released video showed tourists from across the world saying 'Hello Türkiye' at recognisable destinations.

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If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]  

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: News, World News, United Nations, Politics, Animals, Food and Drink

Emily Brown
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