TURKISH 409 - Elements of Ottoman Turkish II: Writing Turkish in Arabic Script
Fall 2021, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  Online (see other Sections below)
Subject: Turkish Studies (TURKISH)
Department: LSA Middle East Studies
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Waitlist Capacity:
Class Misc Info:
Meets 11/03/21 - 12/10/21. (Drop/Add Deadline 11/10/21.).
Advisory Prerequisites:
First year proficiency in Turkish and first year proficiency in either Arabic or Persian.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


Ottoman Turkish is the common term for the Southwestern Turkic or Oghuz language used in Anatolia and other parts of West Asia from the Middle Ages until the 20th century. As the administrative language and cultural idiom of one of the longest-lasting empires in Eurasian history, it is the key to a complex history and a fascinating world of literary creativity. Its offshoot, Modern Turkish is separated from Ottoman Turkish, by two events: the writing reform of 1928 that replaced the Arabic alphabet with a modified Latin alphabet, and the language reform of the 1930s that introduced recovered or newly created Turkish words to replace Arabic and Persian vocabulary. TURKISH 409 Elements of Ottoman Turkish II is the second of a pair of courses designed to enable students with exposure to modern Middle Eastern languages to cross this double threshold by building on familiar elements, in this case, the application of the Arabic script to a Turkic language. Both parts provide primarily theoretical information on grammatical phenomena; familiarity with basic grammatical concepts is essential. By the same token, the courses also allow students primarily interested in linguistics to familiarize themselves with phenomena of contact, hybridization, and others.

By learning how the Arabic script is adapted to the rendering of Turkish sounds and especially of Turkish morphology and word formation from verbal and nominal stems, students with a background in Arabic and/or Persian in addition to basic modern Turkish will be enabled to decipher and analyze Ottoman texts with their preponderance of Arabic and Persian elements. Students who took the first part of Elements of Ottoman Turkish have the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the script and bring the various elements together. The focus will be on orthographic peculiarities resulting from the adaptation of the Arabic alphabet to a Turkic language, and on recognizing the Turkic structures that typically constitute the logical hinges of a statement (verb and noun modifiers, gerunds, etc.). The goal is to develop strategies for deciphering texts, especially those parts that cannot be resolved with the dictionary.

At the end of the course, students will be ready to proceed to a reading course with Ottoman prose texts in Arabic printed characters.

The learning process is structured as a ‘flipped classroom’: students will watch instructional videos online and seek to apply them before taking their experiments to the classroom discussion. Participation and regular homework are a significant part of the grade (total of 20% each). In addition, there will be quizzes after each of the three units (10% each), and a final (30%).

Course Requirements:

First-year proficiency in Arabic and/or Persian; strongly advised basic proficiency in Turkish

Intended Audience:

Students with interest and background in Turkish and Arabic or Persian

Class Format:

Three 60-minute meetings weekly


TURKISH 409 - Elements of Ottoman Turkish II: Writing Turkish in Arabic Script
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
MWF 9:00AM - 10:00AM
Note: Meetings will be remote and synchronous.

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