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What Language Do They Speak in Turkey?

What Language Do They Speak in Turkey

For many global travelers, language forms an essential part of the cultural immersion experience. When planning a trip to Turkey or just looking to expand your global knowledge, knowing the language spoken in the region can be invaluable.

Key Takeaway Table

Official LanguageTurkish
Secondary LanguagesKurdish, Arabic, Zaza, Laz
Language FamilyTurkic
ScriptLatin (Modern Turkish Alphabet)
Learning ResourcesDuolingo, Memrise, Rosetta Stone

Overview of the Turkish Language

The official and predominant language spoken in Turkey is Turkish. It belongs to the Turkic family of languages, which also includes languages like Azerbaijani and Uzbek.

Historical Context

Historically, Turkish was written in a version of the Arabic script. However, in 1928, as part of Atatürk’s Reforms in the early years of the new Turkish Republic, the Latin script was introduced, giving birth to the Modern Turkish Alphabet. This move was aimed at increasing literacy rates and aligning Turkey more closely with the Western world.

Modern Usage

Today, Turkish is the native language of over 80% of Turkey’s population. It is also spoken by the Turkish diaspora around the world, including in countries like Germany, France, and the Netherlands.

PhonologyTurkish is known for its vowel harmony and absence of phonological voicing.
GrammarIt is an agglutinative language, which means that it uses suffixes to convey many meanings that would require prepositions in English.
VocabularyTurkish has borrowed many words from French, Italian, English, Arabic, Persian, and Greek.

Other Languages Spoken in Turkey

While Turkish dominates the linguistic landscape, several minority languages also have a significant presence. These languages offer a glimpse into the rich tapestry of cultures and ethnicities that make up modern-day Turkey.

  1. Kurdish: The Kurds, primarily residing in the southeastern part of Turkey, speak Kurdish. There are multiple dialects, but Kurmanj and Zazaki are the most prominent.
  2. Arabic: Found mainly near the Syrian border, Arabic is spoken by a minority, including some Syrian refugees who’ve made Turkey their home.
  3. Zaza: Closely related to Kurdish, Zaza is spoken in parts of eastern Turkey.
  4. Laz: Primarily spoken in the northeastern Black Sea region, the Laz language has its roots in the Kartvelian family, unrelated to Turkish.
  5. Circassian, Bosnian, Georgian, and others: There are smaller communities that speak these languages, showcasing the diverse ethnic mosaic of the country.

Learning Turkish: Tips and Resources

If you’re intrigued by the sound and structure of Turkish and would like to learn it, here are some tips and resources that might help:

  • Embrace the structure: Turkish has a logical structure. Familiarizing yourself with its rules will make the learning process smoother.
  • Practice: Engage in regular conversations, even if it’s just with a language partner online.
  • Use multimedia resources: Turkish songs, movies, and TV shows can provide contextual learning opportunities.

Popular Learning Platforms:

  • Duolingo: This app offers a comprehensive Turkish course for beginners.
  • Memrise: It uses spaced repetition to help learners remember vocabulary and phrases.
  • Rosetta Stone: Known for its immersive approach, Rosetta Stone offers courses in Turkish for all levels.


Turkey, straddling the crossroads of Europe and Asia, offers an intriguing blend of cultures, traditions, and languages. While Turkish is the official language and is spoken by the majority, a mosaic of other tongues tells the tale of the nation’s diverse history and people. Whether you’re planning a trip, doing business, or just satiating your linguistic curiosity, understanding Turkey’s languages will enrich your experience and knowledge manifold.