Come on, all together, let’s learn Ottoman Turkish

Come on, all together, let’s learn Ottoman Turkish

In the 2013-14 academic year, we had almost 3 million high school students and just over 2.5 million vocational and technical high school students. Every year, almost 800,000 students graduate from high schools and vocational/technical high schools. In the coming years, this figure will exceed 1 million.

In the 2013 nationwide university entrance and placement exam, the number of students who took the 80-question English language test was 26,662. These students are the ones who have the highest confidence in themselves about the foreign language they have been educated in for at least eight years. The average number of correct answers, among these 26,622 students in the 80-question test, was only 28.08.

In other words, we expose millions of our students to foreign language education for eight years and a portion of them consider themselves successful in this area; so they take the test, and this is the result.

Actually, if we had a real graduation exam in the last year of high school, we would have many failures, not only in foreign languages, but also in mathematics and physics.

Turkey, for dozens of years, has been trying to teach foreign languages in its high schools and middle schools. We are even using the same alphabet as these foreign languages, but we are unable to teach them; we also do not admit this.

Now, a commission of the National Education Council in Antalya has reached an advisory decision that the Ottoman language should be a compulsory course in high schools.

Ottoman Turkish is, in fact, a foreign language for us. Moreover, it is a foreign language written with a foreign alphabet. So students will have to learn this new alphabet if they want to learn the language. Also, the Ottoman language, which is a mixture of Turkish, Arabic and Persian, was only spoken by the Ottoman ruling elite.

Our chances of success in this new attempt can be estimated by looking at the results of the English exam.

Besides, if the Education Ministry, tomorrow morning, finds this suggestion correct and starts preparations to make it a compulsory course, we still will not be able to start Ottoman Turkish courses for at least five or six years because the teachers who will teach this course will have to learn Ottoman Turkish. Actually, we need even longer, because textbooks also have to be written. In addition, it has to be decided which period of Ottoman will be taught.

At the end of the day, in a subject that has an extremely doubtful outcome, should we or should we not channel the very rare and valuable sources of this poor land? If we make this subject an elective course for social science-specializing high schools, could we not be using our resources more productively?

Your ancestors must be royal 

My mother’s maternal side was a family serving close to the palace. My grandmother’s brothers were veterinary officers in the army serving the palace stables. Their tombstones, as far as I know, were written in Turkish and Latin letters.

However, those arguing that Ottoman Turkish should be a compulsory course in high schools say, “We cannot even read our ancestors’ tombstones.” If your ancestor has a tombstone, and if these tombstones contain Ottoman epitaphs, it means that person is a member of the Ottoman elite class. How many of us know the tomb of the father of our grandparents?

If one has such a background, I would expect that person, instead of waiting until 2014 to complain, to have deciphered the epitaph of his ancestors by asking or hiring an expert.