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The role of language in the formation of Turkish national identity and Turkishness

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2004-01-01
Aydıngün, Ayşegül
Aydıngün, İsmail
Although not a reflection of liberal ideals, the Ottoman Empire had no official language policy or policies that standardized education. For the Ottoman rulers, the main aim was to maintain power and ensure the continuation of the Empire. However, the Turkish Republic was founded with the modernist idea of a nation-state, and therefore it required a common culture. As a result, language and education were standardized to create a Turkish national identity. Adoption of a language policy was one of the most important strategies used by the founders of the Turkish Republic during the process of transition from an empire to a nation-state. This article focuses on the role of language and the contributions made by intellectuals such as Ziya Gökalp in creating the Turkish nation and defining Turkishness. In this article, the classical ethnic—civic dichotomy is challenged and a constructionist position is adopted.