Erdogan changed the international name of Turkey: he wants to be called “Türkiye” and not “Turkey”

Turkish flag REUTERS/Cagla Gurdogan (CAGLA GURDOGAN/)

“Di Türkiye”, repeats an announcement on social networks to push for the international name change of Turkeywhich until now was in English: “Turkey”. The new name in the Turkish language avoids annoying confusions because “turkey” in English also means “turkey”.

The Republic of Turkey, “Türkei” in German, “Turquie” in French, or “Turkey” in English, emerged in 1923 from the Ottoman Empire. Almost a century later, its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has decided that the international name of her country is only its version in the Turkish language: “Türkiye”.

A presidential decree of December 3, 2021 ensures that Türkiye “represents and expresses the culture, civilization and values ​​of the Turkish nation in the best way”.

The Turkish Islamist government intends to report in the coming weeks the change of its international name to the United Nations, to formalize this decision.

International name changes are not uncommon, with the Netherlands recently ceasing to be the Netherlands, while North Macedonia abandoned its previously lengthy official name “The Old Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” following a settlement of a Byzantine dispute with Greece.


However, some in Turkey warn that the change may run into problems, as the letter “ü” is not found in the alphabet of many languages.

Although Ankara has not yet discussed this matter with the UN, the Turkish executive is optimistic about the matter, which could be solved by using a simple “u” instead of “ü”, that is, “Turkiye” instead of “Türkiye”. .

At the same time, Erdogan seeks to strengthen the country brand in international relations, institutions and trade.


Thus, Turkish products will abandon the traditional ‘Made in Turkey’ to go to ‘Made in Türkiye’, which according to Erdogan himself, is a sign of the “pride of the country in international trade”.

The plan to change the name is not new, as in 2000 the Assembly of Exporters of Turkey asked its members to sell the products under “Türkiye”, although the request was never implemented.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan REUTERS/Florion Goga/File Photo
Recep Tayyip Erdogan REUTERS/Florion Goga/File Photo (FLORION GOGA/)

For now, the only ones that use the new name continuously are the public broadcaster TRT in English and also the different services of the official Anadolu news agency, as well as embassies and official bodies.

TRT, which represents the official position of the Government, points out that in the Cambridge dictionary on the word ‘turkey’ there are definitions such as “something that fails seriously” or “a stupid or foolish person”.

And a Google search for ‘Turkey’, TRT highlights, brings up a confusing array of images, articles, and definitions that conflate the country with the turkey served at US Thanksgiving dinners.


But there is another, more psychological explanation: The Turkish government hopes to put an end to confusion and ridicule over the English name for turkey.

“There is a psychological disturbance in Turkey or even a kind of trauma caused by the meaning of ‘turkey’ in English,” explains Selçuk Candansayar, a professor at the Department of Psychiatry at Gazi University Hospital in Ankara.

As Candansayar recalls to Efe, the British tabloid newspapers played a role in this trauma in their sports coverage, and specifically when recalling the biggest win suffered by the Turkish team, an 0-8 at home against England in 1984.

“The tabloids then titled ‘Stuff the Turkey’ (“stuff the turkey”, in Spanish), which offended us a lot,” says the expert, recalling that use to make fun of the Turks.

Any Turkish student of the English language is familiar with the meaning of “turkey” in English, and more so at a time when this language is increasingly better known and used internationally.

The jokes, ironies and xenophobic attacks against Turkey are often based on comparisons with the turkey, a large bird native to America.

Candansayar also believes that the Turkish government wanted to use the issue of the new name for “domestic propaganda”, directed above all at more nationalist circles.

Turkish President Erdogan with Turkish citizens in Dubai.  Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS
Turkish President Erdogan with Turkish citizens in Dubai. Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS (PRESIDENTIAL PRESS OFFICE/)

However, with “galloping inflation” -of almost 50% year-on-year in January- it has, for now, had “little impact”.

(with information from EFE)


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