Was Ottoman Empire Turkish?

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,546
Republika Srpska
So, the Ottoman Empire is often simply called Turkey or Turkish Empire. And fine, during its later stages the Empire certainly had a Turkish nationalistic element but I want to focus on the classical period. There are several elements there that would dispute the Ottoman Turkishness:

1. the elites did not really like the term "Turk" instead preferring terms like "Rumi" or "Osmanli". So, in the minds of the elite classes, they were not living in a Turkish Empire, the Empire's official name was Devlet-i ʿAlīye-i ʿOsmānīye (Exalted Ottoman State). There is no Turkey there

2. governmental positions, including that of the Grand Vizier, were often not filled by Turks, but by other nations such as Albanians

3. the main language of the Empire is called Ottoman Turkish, but the vast majority of its vocabulary was of non-Turkish origin and it was not the only language used, Arabic and Persian were also used as official languages.
 
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Tulun

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
3,860
Western Eurasia
I think it is meaningless to even raise the question before the 19th century (before the rise of particular nationalisms on its territory), it was a multiethnic Islamic dynastic state, the state of the house of Osman.

Sure there could be made arguments for its Turkishness, like
1. the Ottoman dynasty traced itself back to Turkic Oğuz tribal origin (invented or real is not important in this regard, only how they tried to portray themselves), the main official language was still Ottoman Turkish (which no matter how many foreign vocabulary it had, it was still a variant of Turkish) of the central administration, Arabic was used for religion and in local administrative affairs in the Arabophone provinces, Persian lost its official use very early and became the language more of certain parts of literature and certain streams of sufism,
2. its contemporary non-muslim European neighbors viewed it as a Turkish Empire (even if in a bizarre way, viewing Muslim and Turk as synonym words, see "turn Turk")
3. and without much dispute I think the modern Republic of Turkey is accepted as its direct and sole legal successor.

But I would disregard these all, the classical period Ottoman Empire was not a modern nation state, I'm not sure what benefit it has if we try to force on it a modern nationalist categorisation.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,715
SoCal
I agree with Tulun's point here but I would also like to point out that the Ottoman Empire also embraced the spirit of the former Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire. True, the Ottomans had a different religion, but Mehmed II nevertheless styled himself Kaiser of Rome (meaning Constantinople)--a title that all subsequent Ottoman Emperors maintained. He and his successors also expanded largely into territories that were former Roman and/or Byzantine provinces--for instance, the Balkans, Greece, Syria, Mesopotamia, Palestine, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria.
 
Oct 2019
3
Istanbul
Nope, even the word “Turkish” was sort of an insult to many higher class Ottomans. They were mostly coming from Balkan, Arab, Kurdish backgrounds. However most of them would regard themselves as simply “Muslim”
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,546
Republika Srpska
Can a language whose vocabulary is almost completely Perso-Arabic be considered Turkish? Especially the fasih variant used by the elite.
 
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Jun 2017
2,962
Connecticut
So, the Ottoman Empire is often simply called Turkey or Turkish Empire. And fine, during its later stages the Empire certainly had a Turkish nationalistic element but I want to focus on the classical period. There are several elements there that would dispute the Ottoman Turkishness:

1. the elites did not really like the term "Turk" instead preferring terms like "Rumi" or "Osmanli". So, in the minds of the elite classes, they were not living in a Turkish Empire, the Empire's official name was Devlet-i ʿAlīye-i ʿOsmānīye (Exalted Ottoman State). There is no Turkey there

2. governmental positions, including that of the Grand Vizier, were often not filled by Turks, but by other nations such as Albanians

3. the main language of the Empire is called Ottoman Turkish, but the vast majority of its vocabulary was of non-Turkish origin and it was not the only language used, Arabic and Persian were also used as official languages.
The empire was certainly founded by Turks. In terms of the Jannissaries and elite non Turkish officials from Eastern Europe I am under the impression they were all castrated which was a way of controlling them in a way the general Ottoman population(or any general population) couldn't be. Catholic Church used and uses the same method to prevent a hereditary aristocracy, giving people power that dies with them.

Turk refers to the Seljuks of which the Ottomans came from. Osmanli would be a term you'd assume the Ottomans would favor because it distinguishes them from Turks whom at a point not too much earlier had ruled much of the Middle East. They were Turks led by Osman and his successors. Thus they were the Osmanli Turks. Some sites do refer to them as such by the way, but shortchanges that are the same as modern countries tend to dominate history because it's easier for modern people to identify the faction. Hence for example why early Russia is considered early Russia by historians rather than Muscovy which is what it was and what people would have considered it to be(for some reason this example just popped into my head).
 
Sep 2019
47
Turkey
Ottoman Empire had a multinational structure , that's right but the founder of the empire Osman Gazi was a Turk and he named the empire . And then Ottoman started to become expand ,Different nations become a part of Ottoman . They 'had positions in the empire. But all these can not change that the Ottoman is Turkish .
 

Tulun

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
3,860
Western Eurasia
Can a language whose vocabulary is almost completely Perso-Arabic be considered Turkish? Especially the fasih variant used by the elite.
Even the elite used different vocabulary variant depending on the audience/topic (sometimes even within the same work you can see change within the vocabulary depending on the actual theme), but yes, it can be considered Turkish. English has more Romance than Germanic vocabulary, it is still a West Germanic, not a Latin language. Not to mention there is no such thing as Perso-Arabic language alone, so if not Turkish, what would it be? Did it become a semitic or indo-iranian lagnuage? Its syntax was Turkish,, even the grammatically most alien Persian izafet constructions behaved like a single word and recieved Turkish suffixes in their declension + Turkish verbs and auxiliary verbs were used even in the highest most eloquent forms. Ottoman Turkish didn't adopt verbs from Persian and Arabic, the verbal forms were created with Turkish auxiliary verbs (etmek, eylemek, buyurmak, olmak, kılmak... etc) which were conjugated according to Turkish grammatical rules.
 
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Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,546
Republika Srpska
The empire was certainly founded by Turks. In terms of the Jannissaries and elite non Turkish officials from Eastern Europe I am under the impression they were all castrated which was a way of controlling them in a way the general Ottoman population(or any general population) couldn't be. Catholic Church used and uses the same method to prevent a hereditary aristocracy, giving people power that dies with them.
Jannisaries were not castrated nor were any non-Turkish officials. Harem guards were. But another point: even in military affairs, the backbone of the Ottoman classical army were Kapikulu units whose numbers were replenished by means such as devshirme so even there the Turkish element was not dominant.
 
Mar 2012
1,209
Magdeburg
Nope, even the word “Turkish” was sort of an insult to many higher class Ottomans. They were mostly coming from Balkan, Arab, Kurdish backgrounds. However most of them would regard themselves as simply “Muslim”
Wrong. Araps and kurds were never in high positions with a few exceptions. Non turkish elements were mostly albainans, serbs, bosniaks, croats, greeks and latee georgians.
Not the rule though, many turks also served as grand viziers ( famous kara mustafa who tried to conquer vienna)