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  "The cornerstone of education is an easy system of reading and writing. The key to this is the new Turkish alphabet based on the Latin script."

M.K. Atatürk
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

"The cornerstone of education is an easy system of reading and writing. The key to this is the new Turkish alphabet based on the Latin script."

The most difficult change in any society is probably a language reform. Most nations never attempt it; those who do, usually prefer a gradual approach. Under Atatürk's Leadership, Turkey undertook the modern world's swiftest and most extensive language reform. In 1928, when he decided that the Arabic script, which had been used by the Turks for a thousand years, should be replaced with the Latin alphabet, he asked the experts: " How long will it take ?" Most of them replied: " At least five years." " We shall do it," Atatürk said," within five months."

As the 1920s came to an end, Turkey had fully and functionally adopted the new script, with its 29 letters (8 vowels and 21 consonants). It has none of the complexities of the Arabic script, which was ill-suited to the Turkish language. The language reform enabled children and adults to read and write within a few months, and to study Western languages with greater effectiveness.

Thousands of words and some grammatical devices from Arabic and Persian held a tight grip over Ottoman Turkish. In the early 1930s, Atatürk spearheaded the movement to eliminate these borrowings. In replacing loan words from foreign languages, large numbers of original words, which had been in use in the earlier centuries, were revived, and provincial expressions and new coinages were introduced. The transformation met with unparalleled success; in the 1920s, the written language consisted of more than 80 percent Arabic, Persian, and French words but by the early 1980s the ratio had declined to a mere 10 percent.

Atatürk's language reform encompassing the script, grammar and vocabulary, stands as one of the most far-reaching in history. It has overhauled Turkish culture and education.

 
   
 

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