By Dogan Tiliç
Ankara, Feb 20 (EFE).- The Turkish government has rolled out plans to change the country’s official English name from Turkey to Türkiye, a move that some say is to avoid embarrassing associations with the bird.
The name Turkey arose at the end of the Ottoman Empire in 1923 but it is a term that president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would change, almost a century later.
In a presidential decree in December last year, Erdogan argued that Türkiye represented “the culture, civilization and values of the Turkish nation in the best way.”
Erdogan’s Islamist government is poised to notify the United Nations of its decision in the coming weeks.
It is rare for a country to change its international name. The Netherlands recently dropped the term Holland as an official reference to the state while in 2019 the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia officially became North Macedonia to settle a dispute with Greece.
Erdogan insists that products marked with “Made in Türkiye” will help drum up national pride in the ambit of international trade.
The name change has been on Turkish minds for some time. In 2000, the Turkish Exporters Assembly asked its members to change to Türkiye, although the measure was never put into practice.
For now, the only entities observing the change are the TRT public channel and the news agency Anadolu as well as embassies and official institutions.
The government-aligned TRT channel pointed out that one of the definitions of turkey in the Cambridge Dictionary is “something that fails badly” or a “stupid or silly person.”
Even a Google search for Turkey brings mixed results directing to both the country and the bird.
This has led some to speculate that Erdogan’s rebranding campaign to avoid humiliation.
“There is a psychological disturbance in Turkey, or even a kind of trauma caused by the English association with the bird,” Selçuk Candansayar, professor at the Ghazi university Hospital in Ankara told Efe.
The British tabloid press has played a role in this, Candansayar said, adding that many Turks were deeply offended by the headline “Stuff the Turkey” when England beat the Turkish national team 0-8 in 1984.
Jibes and xenophobic slurs against Turks in the English language often play on the multiple meaning of the word.
Candansayar added that Erdogan’s push to change to Türkiye was also designed to drum up support in nationalist circles although acknowledged it would have little impact in a country where inflation as risen 50% in the last year. EFE