Q, W and X were in first proposed alphabet

It has been revealed that the letters Q, W and X were put forward in the first proposed Turkish Latin alphabet. On the other hand, the letters Ğ, Ö and Ü were not present. This revelation comes at a time where the previously illegal Q, W and X letters have now officially been legalized.

Q, W and X were in first proposed alphabet

Ömer Aymalı – World Bulletin / History

During the period of reform, Ottoman experts gathered to discuss the changes required for the education system, making reading and writing easier to learn. The changing of the Turkish alphabet from Arabic to Latin was heatedly debated at the time. Ahmet Cevdet Pasha’s Kavaid-I Osmaniyye grammar book (1851) noted that there were some sounds in the Turkish languages that were not represented by the Arabic alphabet.

Münif Pasha also documented that the Arabic alphabet was not sufficient and that its replacement with the Latin alphabet would make reading and writing easier to learn. Hüseyin Cahit Yalçın and Celal Nuri also believed switching to the Latin alphabet was a must.

This subject gained even more importance during the Turkish war of independence. One of the head commanders of the Ottoman army, and soon to be founder of the Turkish republic, Mustafa Kemal also preferred the Latin alphabet to the Arabic one as he believed it would assist in his aims to westernize his people. Before the famous Erzurum Congress, he was noted as telling Mazhar Müfit Bey that the Latin alphabet would be adopted.

The subject first gained a platform during the 1923 Izmir Economy Congress, but Kazım Karabekir Pasha opposed the plan as he felt that it would destroy his people’s unity with the Islamic world. In 1924 the minister of education Şükrü Saraçoğlu went on to blame the Arabic alphabet for illiteracy in his country. As time went on, many more officials swayed towards the new alphabet.

In March of 1926 the first official steps to introducing the Latin alphabet were made but failed to produce an acceptable proposal.

A committee dedicated to produce an acceptable proposal was established by Mustafa Kemal himself on 28 May 1928. They were employed to develop the new alphabet, work on grammar and set up a practical system. Within the first month they agreed to leave out double letters, respect international applications of the letters, minimize dotted letters and enforce it as the national Turkish alphabet.

They disagreed however on which alphabet should be the prime focus. Some said French, some Latin, some Azerbaijani, while others opted to analyze all alphabets and produce one unique to the needs of the Turkish people.

Finally, having studied all European alphabets, they produced the Turkish Latin alphabet. The project was complete on 12 July 1928.

Mustafa Kemal, called a delegation to Istanbul in order to review their progress. In the 40-page report, the letters Q, W and X were put forward for the alphabet. On the other hand, the letters Ğ, Ö and Ü were not present.

After a few modifications, the new alphabet was announced under the directorship of Galatasaray College’s Head of Education Mustafa Necati Bey in a meeting on 6 August 1928.

The introduction was celebrated on 8-9 August in Sarayburnu, in a ceremony attended by Mustafa Kemal himself. There, he gave Falih Rıfkı Atay a text written in the Latin script and told him to read it out. As Mustafa Kemal travelled the country, he personally introduced the new alphabet to his people. On 1 November 1928, the Turkish parliament officially accepted the alphabet proposal.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 30 Eylül 2013, 15:37
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Ali Soleimani
Ali Soleimani - 9 yıl Önce

This article, albeit insightful with its detail on such a little-known topic, failed to satisfy the subject in the title: the letters in the first draftings of the Turco-Latin alphabet. I would have liked to know more about the inclusion of Q, W, and X (What were they used for? Why were they illegalized?)—and the exclusion of Ğ, Ö, and Ü. (What letters were used in their place?)