Censored 'PC' Turkish Language
coming your way...
In 1949 when George Orwell wrote the bleak, then-futuristic novel
'1984', he warned his countrymen about creeping 'IngSoc' (English
Socialism) in Big Brother's fictional country of Oceania. As an example of
IngSoc's smothering effect on individualism, Orwell introduced the
concepts of a State-sponsored language called 'Newspeak' and a
'thought police' that enforced its use.
Newspeak's vocabulary was a reduced subset of English Language --
from which 'undesirable' words had been eliminated. The Newspeak
vocabulary was reduced on purpose, in order to diminish the range of
possible human thought -- thereby enabling easy population control...
Just yesterday, coincidently, Şükrü Haluk Akalın (the Director of the
Türk Dil Kurumu [TDK], The Turkish Language Society -- which is an office of the Prime
Ministry) announced a new campaign to purge the Turkish language of
certain 'undesirable' words, terms, and phrases.
Which causes us to raise an eye-brow...
Is there, we wonder, a similarity between the TDK under direction of
religious-right Prime Minister Erdoğan's office (that will oversee this new
vocabulary-censorship campaign) and Big Brother's thought-police-force
(with its Newspeak enforcement agenda)?
On the surface... the TDK Director seems to have chosen a fairly
non-controversial category of terms and phrases to eliminate, at the campaign's outset.
His first category-choice (with which almost no one dares to disagree, in public) is "Terms and phrases that belittle women." And, firstly, he says, they'll be purged from new government-sponsored publications such as the TDK's own, soon to be reprinted
2-volume Türkçe Sözlük, Turkish Dictionary.
On the list of language to be eliminated, for example, is the clearly
female-denigrating proverb, "Kadının sırtından sopayı, karnından
sıpayı eksik etmeyeceksin" (You mustn't spare the rod from the back,
nor the baby from the stomach, of a woman).
But also on theTDK 'hit list' are more innocuous (and quite
colorful) Turkish idiomatic expressions.
For example, in the TDK's dictionary under eksik, the idiom eksik
etek will be eliminated. Its literal translation is something like
incomplete skirt but it is used idiomatically as a term for a
Another phrase that will be zapped from the TDK Dictionary is kaşık
düsmanı, the enemy of (my) spoon -- used idiomatically by a
husband in reference to his wife. Which is an idiom that is always used jokingly in Turkey -- having no enmity in it whatsoever.
So, it seems an impossible task (to us, at least) for the TDK to decide where to draw the line -- between what is truely belittling of women and what is merely discomforting or completely harmless.
And, we ponder two main questions...
Firstly, if the TDK is actually able to prevail in its Political Correctness campaign (which is by no means a foregone conclusion), then where is this religious-right inspired 'language purification'
leading and where will it end? Once these 'sexist' terms and phrases
have been eliminated from Government sponsored publications,
will pressure be brought to bear on private publishers to follow suit?
Will government printing contracts (and such) dry up... for recalcitrant
And, secondly, what will be the next category of words, terms, and
phrases that the TDK chooses to eliminate? Is this first category
merely the thin edge of the religious-right's wedge?
In Turkey - Türkiye'de
Ads by HepsiBurada