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The US Embassy recently announced the following:

The State Department will start spelling Turkey as "Türkiye" in diplomatic and formal settings.

The name change was approved by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names following a request from the Turkish embassy, State Department spokesperson Ned Price confirmed on Thursday.

Logically speaking it seems like Turkey should be trying to get every country with a Latin alphabet to use "Türkiye" as well, but it seems like this is not happening. I.e. in German their official name is "Republik Türkei", not "Republik Türkiye". Why is this the case? Do they not care about languages other than English or is their primary complaint that "turkey" can also refer to a bird?

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    How do we know that isn't happening? You have an announcement from the US State Department announcing the change but nothing from Turkey requesting this change. For all we know they have made this request to many other countries but the US is the only one to change, announce or acknowledge the request.
    – Joe W
    Feb 6, 2023 at 22:11
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    @DavidHammen The question itself should have some sort of evidence that what it is asking is actually the case which it is not doing. All it does is show a statement from a single country saying it is changing the spelling of a name. It does not indicate that the country in question asked (or didn't ask) anyone to change the spelling of their name. At the very least it should indicate that it asked to have its name changed to someone.
    – Joe W
    Feb 7, 2023 at 14:07
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    The whole thing is rather odd. They seem to have suddenly un-realised that foreign names tend to get mangled a bit when borrowed, and particularly that spelling tends to become naturalised – including, of course, in Turkish (Türkçe?). I wonder if the Turkish (Türkçe?) government are planning to change Amerika Birleşik Devletleri to United States of America as well. It’s fair enough to want dissociation from the bird in English, but expecting English speakers to suddenly be able to pronounce [yɾ] is hardly realistic. Feb 8, 2023 at 14:04
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    @komodosp It can also have positive connotations. E.g. in bowling, rolling 3 strikes in a row is called a "turkey", which is a good thing. Lots of words have multiple meanings, but you don't see, e.g.: China, India, or Chad asking to change their names because they also refer to porcelain dishes, ink, or hole-punch biproducts... Feb 8, 2023 at 20:55
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    @JanusBahsJacquet it is not odd. This is a message from Erdogan to his voters at home that he is ready to reassert Turkish national pride against perceiving foreign contempt, and making the infidels in the ÜS and Grät Britain sweat over the missing letters on their keyboards might be very well be part of this. But the question did not ask about the motive for the campaign, it asked why English speakers were singled out, and they weren't. Feb 9, 2023 at 8:46

3 Answers 3

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According to e.g. Neue Zürcher Zeitung the goal is actually to have it changed in all languages, but start with English because English is considered more important (due to its use as a world wide lingua franca).

From the article:

Türkiye soll künftig in allen Fremdsprachen verwendet werden, auch im Deutschen. Nicht nur wegen ihrer internationalen Bedeutung steht die englische Sprache jedoch im Fokus.

In the future, Türkiye is to be used in all foreign languages, including German. Focus is on the English language, not only because of its international importance.

They link a video produced by the Government of Türkiye that has people in different languages using the name to promote the change.

So it seems the premise of the question is wrong.

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  • "The focus is not only on the English language because of its international importance" is confusing me. Should that not be now?
    – TRiG
    Feb 8, 2023 at 19:29
  • Lots of comments deleted. If you have followup questions that go beyond the scope of the original question, please post them as new questions. Especially when they have nothing to do with politics. Then post them in the stack exchange community where they fit better.
    – Philipp
    Feb 9, 2023 at 8:24
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    If you know Google got the translation wrong, why not fix the translation instead of writing the wrong translation and then a comment saying it's wrong? There is no obligation that translations must be directly from Google Translate. (This is a comment related to improving the answer) Feb 9, 2023 at 13:28
  • The video doesn't show people speaking different languages - I don't hear any language except English in it. Mostly it's just people saying "Hello Türkiye" with various accents.
    – bdsl
    Feb 10, 2023 at 13:23
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I add a quote from a seemingly official Turkish communique quoted by TRT that they indeed object to different spellings in other languages as well, but also to pronunciation:

The vast majority of people in Turkiye feel that calling the country by its local variation only makes sense and is in keeping with the country's aims of determining how others should identify it.

In a nod to that, the recently published communique was clear that "within the scope of strengthening the 'Turkiye' brand, in all kinds of activities and correspondence, especially in official relations with other states and international institutions and organisations, necessary sensitivity will be shown on the use of the phrase 'Türkiye' instead of phrases such as 'Turkey,' 'Turkei,' 'Turquie' etc."

(The last two are the spellings in German and French respectively, although the one in German is missing the umlaut.)

Aside: IMHO, one of the ironies of the US decision is that insofar they've only adopted the spelling but not the pronunciation...

[US] Officials later confirmed the spelling change, but said the pronunciation would stay the same.

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  • Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Politics Meta, or in Politics Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.
    – JJJ
    Feb 8, 2023 at 4:03
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TL;DR: According to one Australian news outlet, the change is “seen as part of a push by Ankara to rebrand the country and dissociate its name from the bird”. They quote an academic in Turkish Studies, and the country’s state broadcaster.

Nothing more official was mentioned, which is suggestive (though not proof) of there being no formal rationale given by the Turkish government. But this would certainly make sense of the push being particularly associated with the English language, even though (as other answers have shown) it’s not actually the case that the move is limited to English.


I’m in Australia, and I noticed this morning that ABC News (that’s the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, not the American broadcaster with the same acronym) was using the “Türkiye” spelling in its coverage of the recent earthquakes in Türkiye/Turkey and Syria.

The above-linked article included notes on the naming in a sidebar that I quote below in full:

Why do we call it Türkiye — not Turkey?

  • The country called itself Türkiye in 1923 after its declaration of independence, but the internationally recognised name was spelled "Turkey"
  • The ABC began referring to it as Türkiye after its official English name was changed in May 2022
  • Türkiye is now used by the United Nations, DFAT and the US State Department, however, many media organisations are still using the anglicised spelling "Turkey"

(“DFAT” is the Australian federal government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.)

Interestingly, just an hour after I first added this answer, ABC News posted another article, titled “Confused about the Türkiye spelling with the country in the news after a deadly earthquake? You're not alone”. That article includes the following quotes from Dr Barcu Cevik-Compiegne, “a lecturer in Turkish Studies at the Australian National University”.

"[Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan's grievance against the old name seems to be related to the humorous association of the country's name with the bird," Dr Cevik-Compiegne says. "Türkiye, it is hoped will warrant more respect for the country and give pride to its citizens."

"Since the government requested it, and some people find the bird association offensive, I think English-language media should respect that."

(Bracketed text is as in the original.)

This article also links to a news piece that completely passed me by last year, covering Ankara’s lodgement of its request with the UN: “Turkey seeks to disassociate itself from bird with Türkiye rebrand”. That article quotes TRT World, described as “Turkey's English-language state broadcaster”:

TRT World explained the decision in an article earlier this year, saying Googling "Turkey" brought up a "a muddled set of images, articles, and dictionary definitions that conflate the country with Meleagris — otherwise known as the turkey, a large bird native to North America — which is famous for being served on Christmas menus or Thanksgiving dinners".


Some other usage-related observations: As the second article linked above says, the change was not immediately effective across the ABC, let alone other media outlets. My own quick and very non-exhaustive search of ABC News articles found “Turkey” as late as June 2022 (almost four weeks after the article about the formal request to the UN), and “Türkiye” as early as November.

That’s in writing. Listening to ABC News today, I’ve heard three pronunciations: to my inexpert ear, one newsreader said /tɜkije/ (“tur-key-eh”), another said /tɜkijə/ (“tur-key-uh”), and the Istanbul correspondent said /ˈtʊəkije/ (“TOUR-key-eh”).

And lastly, the article I linked to second uses two examples of countries not pushing for their endonymous spellings to be adopted in English: Deutschland and Zhōngguó. I’m amused to note that these are two of the exact same examples used in a comment here by user Adamant (one that’s since been moved to chat). Coincidence? I wonder.

To any ABC News researchers or journos browsing this page—hi!

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  • I live in Germany and it's the first I've ever heard of any name change. Right now - er - Türkiye is in the news a lot and German media still say Türkei. But hey, if they want to have a different spelling, why not. Romania managed it.
    – RedSonja
    Feb 8, 2023 at 7:29
  • Germany is a particularly unusual case, with so many different "exonyms" (names used outside the country) that it has an entire Wikipedia page discussing them all.
    – IMSoP
    Feb 8, 2023 at 9:59
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    Quiz question: Which one of the 50 US States has a different name in German? (Even the North / South ones are not translated into German).
    – gnasher729
    Feb 8, 2023 at 15:31
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    @gnasher729: I believe Alaska is called "Kühlschrank" in German :-)
    – Dominique
    Feb 8, 2023 at 15:55
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    @gnasher729: Unless I'm missing something, California is the only one. I presume if something like the Six Californias idea ever gets reality, "North", "South", etc. would be translated, as well. Feb 8, 2023 at 22:56

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