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Old January 6th, 2018, 08:51 AM   #1
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Turkicization of Turkey?


How “Turkic” is modern-day Turkey? After reading a few articles and books about Ottoman and modern Turkish history, I came away with the understanding that after the conquering of Anatolia and the establishment of the Ottoman Empire by the Seljuk Turks, it was the ruling elites that were of “real” Turkic origin from Central Asia while the bulk of the Anatolian population were a mix of indigenous Anatolian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean ethnic groups. This reading seems not unlike the situation in places like India, where the Persianized Turko-Mongol Mughal elites formed the ruling class over a predominantly native Hindu/Indo-Aryan population in the subcontinent. And like the Mughals, where the Persian/Arabic/Turkic-influenced dialect of Urdu developed as a result of their conquest of India, the Seljuk Turks likewise spawned the development of the extensively Persian and Arabic-influenced Ottoman Turkish language.

From this perspective, it appears that the idea that of a “Turkic” or “Turkish” Turkey is a relatively recent phenomenon created after Ataturk’s establishment of the Turkish Republic. In fact, the notion of being a “Turk” was not very widespread during the Ottoman period and the term was understood to something akin to the modern equivalent of “country bumpkin” of sorts.

But one thing I still don’t get is, if the above thesis is correct, then how did the indigenous Anatolian population lose their original languages? Unlike in India, where the Mughals built upon and adapted the local Hindustani language to create Urdu, it seems as if the root indigenous Anatolian languages, besides a few exceptions like Kurdish, became wiped out after the conquest of the peninsula by the Seljuk Turks? Ottoman Turkish, despite having been heavily influenced by foreign languages, nevertheless was built on a Turkic base—a contrast to the Mughal example where Urdu was created primarily on the basis of the indigenous Hindustani language. This seems rather odd since it’s somewhat uncommon, bar the Spanish exception in the Americas, for a ruling class to be so successful at displacing the indigenous language as thoroughly as did the Turks in Anatolia.

To restate my initial question: How “Turkic” is Turkey really?
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Old January 6th, 2018, 01:40 PM   #2
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Much of Anatolia was conquered by Central Asian warlords in the 11th century and Anatolia was ruled by Turkic elites from the 11th to 19th century which gave the Turkic warlords enough time to change the language of the native people.
On the other hand Mughal rule in North India was only established in the 16th century and it collapsed in the 18th century because of the Maratha Empire and unlike Anatolia much of North India was still ruled by Hindu feudal lords which is probably the reason why North India did not become Turkish.
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Old January 6th, 2018, 05:27 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Aryan Khan Kushzai View Post
How “Turkic” is modern-day Turkey? After reading a few articles and books about Ottoman and modern Turkish history, I came away with the understanding that after the conquering of Anatolia and the establishment of the Ottoman Empire by the Seljuk Turks, it was the ruling elites that were of “real” Turkic origin from Central Asia while the bulk of the Anatolian population were a mix of indigenous Anatolian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean ethnic groups. This reading seems not unlike the situation in places like India, where the Persianized Turko-Mongol Mughal elites formed the ruling class over a predominantly native Hindu/Indo-Aryan population in the subcontinent. And like the Mughals, where the Persian/Arabic/Turkic-influenced dialect of Urdu developed as a result of their conquest of India, the Seljuk Turks likewise spawned the development of the extensively Persian and Arabic-influenced Ottoman Turkish language.

From this perspective, it appears that the idea that of a “Turkic” or “Turkish” Turkey is a relatively recent phenomenon created after Ataturk’s establishment of the Turkish Republic. In fact, the notion of being a “Turk” was not very widespread during the Ottoman period and the term was understood to something akin to the modern equivalent of “country bumpkin” of sorts.

But one thing I still don’t get is, if the above thesis is correct, then how did the indigenous Anatolian population lose their original languages? Unlike in India, where the Mughals built upon and adapted the local Hindustani language to create Urdu, it seems as if the root indigenous Anatolian languages, besides a few exceptions like Kurdish, became wiped out after the conquest of the peninsula by the Seljuk Turks? Ottoman Turkish, despite having been heavily influenced by foreign languages, nevertheless was built on a Turkic base—a contrast to the Mughal example where Urdu was created primarily on the basis of the indigenous Hindustani language. This seems rather odd since it’s somewhat uncommon, bar the Spanish exception in the Americas, for a ruling class to be so successful at displacing the indigenous language as thoroughly as did the Turks in Anatolia.

To restate my initial question: How “Turkic” is Turkey really?
The people of Turkey are not 'Turkic'. They are Anatolian, but they speak Turkic and self-identify themselves as Turk. They have so completely forgotten their past. Such language switching had taken place in other places, even outside the Americas, that took place as a result of the Spanish conquest. A good example is how Indo-Aryan quickly replaced Dravidian in North India, after the Aryan conquest. It took place so quickly that North Indians still speak Indo-Aryan with a Dravidian retro-flex accent, and even consider themselves apart from the Dravidians. Spread of Arabic language with Islam to places like Egypt is another example.

Last edited by kandal; January 6th, 2018 at 06:05 PM.
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Old January 6th, 2018, 07:01 PM   #4

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Turkic tribes that moved into Anatolia dominated mostly the interior highlands for a long time and the ruling elites intermarried into local elites fairly rapidly. The Turkic warriors provided the backbone of the military forces which guaranteed Turkic rule until gradually Islamic warriors and mix of feudal, Greek, and Turkic organization for raising armies led to Islamic and regional identities being most important.

Ataturk consciously played up Turkic past to unite the people of Anatolia while at the same time politically marginalizing or direct forced population migrations of competing national identities of the Greeks, Armenians, and Kurds.
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Old January 6th, 2018, 08:00 PM   #5
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Excellent insights from Razhib Khan :

Are Turks acculturated Armenians? - Gene Expression

The citizen of the Ottoman empires where divided into two categories, the muslims, and the gavyours (non muslims).

The Gavyours had to pay extra taxes, were considered as second class citizens, were easy targets for "tchétés" and various irregular militias that were constantly raiding Armenian / Greek / Syriac villages. They had no right to defends themselves, killing a muslim even in legitimate defense would signify immediate death. So they were mass conversions to Islam from the 13th to the 16th century mostly. Armenians highlands was generally a lawless area, were locals had to ask protection of Kurdish tribes. This is specially true in Dersim were they were a strong Armenian / Kurdish connection for centuries.

Not all the converted lost their original language though. In Pontic mountains, there is still an Armenian community called "Hamshen", speaking to this day a dialect very close to Western Armenian. Maybe few thousands locutors at best.

Interestingly, in the 90s/2000's a phenomenon of "hidden Armenians" discovering their roots appeared in the medias. A dying grandmother or grandfather confessing their origins, which they never did before to protect their family. Its hard to give a number of "crypto Armenians", estimates varies between 50'000 to 5 Millions.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hidden_Armenians
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Old January 8th, 2018, 01:36 AM   #6

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Genetic contribution of Central Asia is around 15 percent. Considering Seljuks spent 1k-year in Persia, I'd say the propagation is significant enough.

Anatolian Turks are not "crypto" Armenians. They are people composed of different geographical regions from the former Ottoman lands. Eastern Turkey does indeed have late-assimilated Armenians, but they overwhelmingly adopted the "Kurd" identity, because Turks did not live there.

Then you have the idea of being Turk, which average guy from Earth is completely alien to, because most societies function on an ethnic bases, whereas Turkic societies never did.
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Old January 8th, 2018, 03:23 AM   #7
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Okay. A bit of a noob question. Before the Seljuks came, the inhabitants of Asia Minor had Hittite, Greek and Persian ancestry right?

Edit: If such discussions are forbidden then no need to answer me.
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Old January 8th, 2018, 04:02 AM   #8
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@Knapf Greeks, Armenians, Lazi, also some native local tribes that were helenised i presume. Asia minor was a war zone between the beginning of arab conquest to literally couple of decades before Manzikert so the region was severely depopulated at the arrival of Selquks. The connection with Hittites you made is Hittites - Luwians - Isaurians (Isaurian dynasty) i suppose?
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Old January 8th, 2018, 07:07 AM   #9

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Knapf View Post
Okay. A bit of a noob question. Before the Seljuks came, the inhabitants of Asia Minor had Hittite, Greek and Persian ancestry right?
Genetically, they still do.
The conquerors left quite a small genetic impact. Plus, many turks were genetically european (iranian/slavic mostly) themselves. The Sultan for example was genetically iranian/slavic.
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Old January 8th, 2018, 08:21 AM   #10
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The Sultan for example was genetically iranian/slavic.
which Sultan? says who, and/or proven how, exactly?
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