The Ohio State University is one of the premier U.S. universities for Turkish language instruction, offering Turkish up to the advanced levels. There currently are no study abroad opportunities, due to a State Department travel warning for Turkey, but we plan to resume education in Turkey as soon as this status is lifted. Please check out Windows Into Turkish Culture an e-book we created as easily-digestible but academic look at Turkey. The following is an overview of Turkey, What to Expect from Turkish culture, and some basic Turkish language.
If you are "going there" online, we recommend you read these ground rules first.
Geography, Linguistic Groups, Economics:
Turkey spans two continents, with Istanbul forming a bridge between Europe and Asia. The Asian side is the major part of its territory, however, also known as Asia Minor or Anatolia. Approximately 80% of the population speaks Turkish and approximately 17% speak Kurdish. A significant number speak Arabic, and various other linguistic communities exist within Turkey. A major economic power, Turkey rose to be the 17th largest gross domestic product (GDP) generating country in the world in 2013. Projected growth for Turkey's GDP in 2016 is 4.1%. Turkey excels in research and development in chemistry and biotech, electronics, and a number of other industries which have become a large part of its export base in recent years. Traditionally, it has had a strong agricultural economy and textile exports. Its means of transport ranks among the world's top twenty countries for railways, roadways, and merchant marine transport systems.
Religious and Cultural Diversity:
The population is 99% Muslim. Turkey's culture is religiously diverse, however, because of its historical roots in the ethnically, religiously and linguistically diverse Ottoman Empire, and its location in historically Christian and Jewish areas. The modern Turkish Republic was established in 1923, after a war of independence from encroaching European powers. Turkey became a secular state, with a Muslim majority. The non-Turkish, non-Muslim communities became proportionally much smaller because of the shrinking of Turkey's borders (as compared to Ottoman), population exchanges arranged by European countries, and displacement from the war.
Turkish is one of the world's globally signficant languages. Turkish stems from Central Asian groups whose migration distributed Turkic languages across Asia, along with other languages in the Ural-Altaic language family. It is related to other Turkic languages, such as Uigur, Uzbek, Kazakh, and others. Modern Turkish contains Arabic words from historical links to Islam, contains Persian words from cultural influence of Persia on West Asia. The syntax of Turkish is Subject, Object, Verb, or rather that is the dominant syntactic pattern . It can vary, however, depending on contextual meaning and which meaning the speaker wishes to emphasize .
Turkish (Informal), click for recordings of native speakers pronouncing these words.
Formal Turkish* click for recordings of native speakers pronouncing these words.
how are you?
|* This is how one speaks to elders, or those one doesn't know well.|
For more language learning online:
You should pack modest clothing for visiting mosques. It is a Muslim country, but very diverse and Westernized. There have been significant Christian and Jewish populations there for centuries and a high level of tolerance for religious difference. Thus, Christians are not expected to observe Muslim rules, unless they are visiting a mosque. We recommend women pack scarves (for covering the head), long skirts, and long sleeves/pants for men and women - in case you visit a mosque. It is generally not necessary for foreigners to cover their hair, but it is a demonstration of respect. It is also a more formally dressed culture compared to the norms found on OSU campus. Plan to get dressed up everyday, especially if you will be hosted by locals.
Sense of time:
Time and schedules are treated very differently than in the U.S. Plans are [may be] based more on a sequence of events than on exact times, and they are always subject to change. Traffic in Istanbul is always a factor. So, people may be understanding about late arrivals. This does not mean you can be late to events, however. Here is a great explanation of the difference in the sense of time between countries, from Here and Now, on 5/24/2016.
Personal relationships are valued highly and time is taken to invest in them. You will find people are more open and friendly than perhaps you are used to, and hospitality is a big deal. Don't be surprised if you are invited to people's homes or are given gifts. You should bring some small gifts, for adults and children, so you can reciprocate. We recommend something that is unique to where you are from, or holds some significance for you. It doesn't need to be pricey!
 Hoffman, Beryl. Article :Integrating "Free" Word Order Syntax and Information Structure.
Objects and art with cultural/historical importance: https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/browse/Turkey
Images from our Global Connections Study Tour to Turkey for teachers: Photographs by Barbara Petzen (2012 Trip): http://www.flickr.com/photos/37358431@N05/collections/72157629244133988/; Photographs by Michael and Neathery Fuller (2012 Trip): http://users.stlcc.edu/mfuller/turkey2012.html
Statistics/General Information on Turkey: CIA World Fact Book
More on OSU and Turkey: Experiencing Turkey