Turkish belongs to the Altaic languages family, a language family born in northern Asia and which includes the Turkic, Mongolic and Tungusic languages. Its origins are traced back to Mongolia and its expansion towards the east with the discovery during the 8th century of two documents written in ancient Turkish. The official language of the Ottoman Empire, Turkish has been influenced by Persian and Arabic.
It is only in 1932, after a series of reforms carried out by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the Turkish Republic, that the language went through various changes such as the replacement of Arabic and Persian words by Turkish words. It is also during this period that the Latin alphabet was adopted and imposed instead of the Arabic alphabet. These modifications formed part of the president’s programme in view of a Westernization of Turkey.
A desire for modernisation and opening that is reflected in the increase of Turkish speakers. Due to wide-scale immigration, which began in the '70s, the use of Turkish spread to other countries such as Germany, Austria and France. Today, more than 200 million people speak a Turkic language worldwide including 90 million speaking Turkish.
Classification by language family:
Altaic languages > Turkic languages > Southwestern Turkic languages > Western Oghuz languages > Turkish