The Importance of Learning Turkish for the British and American People

14th, 2011
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The idea of learning Turkish is strange for most British and American students; but that rapidly changes to a sense of excitement as soon as the career opportunities and adventure of Turkey are discovered. Its central connections to Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East make doing business in Turkey a necessity.

Since pre-historic times, Turkey has been the vital bridge between Europe and the Middle East. Its mighty Ottoman Empire consolidated much of Eastern Europe and the Middle East into one great civilization until the early 20th century. The flavour of Turkish culture is richly cosmopolitan, a sophisticated mix of ancient traditions in a contemporary Geist.

For British and American people, Turkey’s liberal political and intellectual climate bridging East and West, traditional and modern, is a comforting environment. Learning Turkish gives access to many new opportunities for business, scientific and technological research, and for scholarship and journalism. Currently, students in Turkey are learning English at a record rate, while few British and American people learn Turkish: to offset that imbalance of skill and opportunity, there is great need for the British and American people to meet the creative challenge of learning Turkish.

Here is a listing of very practical reasons for undertaking the Turkish adventure in learning:

  • Turkey is a major power in the Middle East with a population of more than 63 million. Uniquely positioned between Europe and Asia geographically, culturally and politically, Turkey was invited to become a member nation of the European Union in 1999. Turkey is also a long time member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
  • Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Turkey continues forming close cultural and business ties within the emerging Turkic states of the Caucus and Central Asia. Turkey is looked up to as successful inspiration to other other Turkic peoples.
  • Turkish is a key for accessing Turkic languages spoken by tens of millions of people in the Near East, the former Soviet Union, China, and the Balkans — all regions of vital strategic importance in the world today, including Uzbek, Tatar, Kazakh, Azeri and Turkmen.
  • Modern Turkish is extremely helpful as a foundation skill if you are interested in learning the classical Ottoman Turkish.
  • According to The Wall Street Journal (March 1, 1995), “the U.S. Commerce Department has identified Turkey as one of the 10 emerging markets that will drive global growth in the next 15 years.” Few are prepared to take advantage of that opportunity; learning Turkish positions you for successes others let pass them by.
  • Business partnerships with Turkey and the USA are steadily growing, creating an ever increasing demand for educated Americans fluent in Turkish and with knowledge and understanding of both cultures. If you plan to enter government service or to do business in Turkey, fluency in Turkish is indispensable to your success. Business opportunities are rapidly opening in Turkey, and its pending membership in the European Union will only enhance its global business importance.
  • Numberous career opportunities already exist in technology, archaeology, computer science, ecological and environmental studies, and will grow with Turkey’s ever increasing emergence as a central economic power.
  • For students of political science and history specializing in Eastern European, Ottoman or modern Turkey, Turkish language skills open seldom entered research opportunities.
  • Anatolia, the territory of modern Turkey, has been the heartland of human civilization since 7,000 BCE. In Turkey, you can explore pre-historic Çatalhoyuk, walk the routes travelled by Saint Paul, storm the city of Troy, visit the village of the last home of Mary (mother of Jesus), behold the sanctuary of Saint Nicholas, stroll on the shores where Homer visited and Cleopatra swam, and experience the alluring mystery of the whirling Dervishes.
  • Studying Turkish immerses you in Turkish cultural heritages – fine and performing arts, music, the Muslim religion – and gives you a depth of understanding far surpassing the shallow stereotypes of popular journalism. Such understanding makes you a valuable assett to corporations, government and other organizations promoting productive alliances with the Middle East.
  • Turkish is fun! With a Web of their own, Turkish students learn great jokes heightening cross-cultural understanding, play games, and gain cultural understanding through cybermedia bringing them into the music, events and youth culture of modern Turkey.

By Assoc. Prof. Dr. Turhan Kani Üçgün

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