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Turkey or Türkiye?

Last Updated on January 8, 2024

Turkey is a popular tourist destination located between Europe and Asia. It has a rich history and is mostly known for its cultural, historical, and geographical features. 

While the country has been known as Turkey, meaning the land of Turks, recently, there has been a debate about whether to call the country Turkey or Türkiye.

The argument began after the recent news of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's announcement to change the country's name from Turkey to Türkiye. 

But why is this the case? Let's discover together.

Should I say Turkey or Türkiye?

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan requested a name change for Turkey and wanted it to be pronounced as ''Türkiye'' because people have been confusing it with the Thanksgiving bird, which exactly has the same name: Turkey. Later on, the name Turkey changed to Türkiye officially in December 2021. However, because people got used to calling the country ''Turkey'', they were still confused and used it instead of ''Türkiye''. Besides, most people have yet to learn about the news of re-branding. Those who have are still confused about the pronunciation, which is similar to “Toork-ee-yeh” if written phonetically.

Where Does Turkey's Name Come From?

There seem to be several origins for the name "Turkey." Türkiye's name means ''Land of the Turks''. Before the Ottoman Empire, the Turcoman tribe, called the Seljuk Empire, settled in Anatolia and established their kingdom. While communicating with foreigners and trading, they referred to Türkiye as the land of the Turks. Shortly after the rise of the Ottoman Empire, terms such as “Turquie" in French or "Turkey" in English became common among Europeans, deriving from the name ''Turks''. However, it is worth mentioning that the terms were only used by foreigners, not the Ottoman Empire.

Then, after the Ottoman Empire lost World War I and dissolved, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk established the Republic of Turkey in 1923 and respectfully used the name as an official one.

According to some research by historians, while French people used "Turquie" to describe Türkiye, in Medieval Latin, its name was displayed as "Turchia." 

Also, the color turquoise is named after Turkey by French people because it has started to be used in dedication to the color of the coastal seas of Turkey.

The Reason for The Name Change

When foreigners think about Turkey, the first thing that comes to mind is a large bird called Turkey. Some people use it as a way of insulting Turkey and humiliating Turkish people. This condition also creates confusion among foreigners because of its contradiction in terms.

This issue led President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to re-brand the country's name as ''Türkiye”. Although this is always what locals have called it, there is hope that the official name change will lead visitors to call it by its actual name.

How Did This Affect Public Life?

Nowadays, both Turkey and Türkiye names are being used by visitors. Having grown accustomed to saying Turkey, and most likely finding it easier to pronounce, calling Turkey by its real name hasn’t yet caught on. It also might take some time; people will not get used to its new name suddenly.

So, Should You Use Turkey or Türkiye?

The government changed the pronunciation in 2021 because of the contradiction the old name created. We suggest you use the name Türkiye instead of Turkey.

However, if you are searching for deals, restaurants, and hotels in the country, you might find it easier to get results by using the old name ''Turkey'', as the change in the name only took effect in 2021.

Turkey or Türkiye: The Name Change

Turkey is a prime destination visited by millions of tourists every year. While the country was known as "Turkey" for many years, recently, it has been at the center of controversy with the news of its name changing to "Türkiye". 

Today, both names are used commonly among locals and visitors worldwide. We recommend using the word "Türkiye" as you’ll be sure to delight the locals and feel as if you’re in the know.

-by Duru Nemutlu

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