As a part of the Turkic language family, Turkish is categorized as an agglutinative language, meaning that its structure is rich, highly abstract, and of an intriguing, almost mathematical regularity. Written in Latin characters since 1928, its writing system matches its logical structure. Of the wealth of modern Turkish literature, only a small portion is accessible in English, and even less of the older literature.
Turkish is also the most convenient stepping stone on the way to older forms of the language, such as Ottoman Turkish, the literary language of the Ottoman Empire written in Arabic letters, and other modern Turkic languages, most of which are spoken in Central Asia, such as Uzbek, Kazakh, Kirghiz, or Uyghur.
The Turkish Program in NES prepares students for a wide range of careers that entail interaction with Turkish language-speakers and new and old Turkish culture. It is structured around three consecutive years of language instruction in modern Turkish, in addition to Ottoman Turkish and (via course-sharing) Uzbek and/or Kazakh. Instruction in Turkish is supported by a wide variety of cultural activities.
Content courses in NES include a sequence of social and political history courses from the beginning of the Ottoman Empire to the Republic of Turkey, and courses on cultural history at various scales and timeframes. In addition, we teach literature classes in Turkish and English; Turkish topics are also part of many other survey and topics courses in the department. Ultimately, our goal is to provide our students with “cultural literacy” as the capability to competently navigate cultural contexts related to the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey.