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Turkic language of Turkey, spoken by about 90% of its population. Turkish has about 59 million speakers, with many enclaves in the Balkans and Cyprus (dating from Ottoman times) and in western Europe. Turkish was introduced into Anatolia with the invasion of Turkmen tribes in the 13th–14th centuries. Anatolian Turkish, written in the Arabic alphabet, is first attested in the 13th century. Ottoman Turkish was so heavily influenced by Persian and Arabic that it lost some of its Turkic characteristics and was incomprehensible to lower social strata. Efforts to re-Turkicize the language began in the 18th century but did not make serious gains until the 20th century and the founding of the Turkish republic. Much Perso-Arabic vocabulary was removed, and the Latin alphabet was adopted with the addition of diacritics to symbolize sounds peculiar to Turkish.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Turkish language, visit Britannica.com.
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