What is the benefit of teaching Turkish abroad?

Fethullah Gülen

I carry the conviction that teaching Turkish and thinking in this language would earn for Turkey friendship, in a rather large circle. ... We have to make Turkish a language of the world in the future. Turkey’s meeting with a new Turkic world and mix with them, the existence of new Turkish generations in Europe, the USA, and Australia, could be considered as a sign that Turkish will become a world language. For this reason, the development of Turkish is very important in terms of our future. On the other hand, realization of integration with the West, for instance, to become aware of the innovations obtained through the development of technology, namely with the transfer of knowledge and technology, adoption of all the fruitful outcomes of the age, [in a Turkified form], would serve the purpose of Turkish to become a common language.[1]

One becomes the owner of a system of thought through the knowledge he has and the words one knows through the books he reads. Those who are familiar with the languages like French or English, if they do not know their mother tongues very well, over time through the ideas passing, through the filters of print or audio material, comes under the impact of those ideas. They start thinking, sensing, hearing, and understanding like French or British people. Therefore, one of the conditions for preserving our essence and remain as ourselves is to learn our language with its particular attributes to use it properly and protect it. Along with our religion, we have to protect our tongue, as well. We are disseminating our national and religious values through our language, and we are telling the virtues of our religion through it. In that case, each one of us has to be sensitive on this issue, and we have to try to use this language everywhere and always in the proper manner.[2]

Fethullah Gülen not only mentions language as a vehicle of communication, but he also discusses language as an essential part of a civilizational project. If we are to experience a Turkish renaissance, beginning with the 21st century, and if we are to produce a new civilization Fethullah Gülen believes that the Turkish language has to be both a crane and a carrier, lifting that civilization and carrying it beyond its borders. But for this to be realized, first the Turkish language has to be developed and brought to the proper degree of maturity, able to comprehend and accommodate all the developments in science and technology. His suggestions on this matter are the following:

Today, there is an enormously vast Turkic world, in order to actualize all these functions, to work with our insufficient and broken language like Persian, or Arabic or English and then to reach some goals seems to be rather difficult. When we look at it from this perspective, the importance of the Turkish language would place responsibilities on everyone, particularly the specialists of literature. For this reason, not satisfied with only learning and teaching what is already available, we should raise great talents and we should burden them with great responsibilities, so that we can make sure that our language would be represented at a very high level. For this, while inventing new words in accordance with its own rules, I believe in the necessity of retaining the words adapted into our language, and became part of the nature of this nation from other languages through their usage over the centuries. Yes, these words which became the property of this nation are now ours and form another dimension of the enrichment of our language. …

In order for our nation to explain itself to the whole world, to be able to prove itself one more time depends, in one sense, on the Turkish language becoming a world language.

Lastly, I would like to present one subjective assessment of my own: Since the time past, I have had a different kind of love for the Turkish language; and even a longing for it. For instance, if I was given the equal talent to be able to write in both either in Turkish or Arabic, that it is the language of the Qur’an, I would have chosen the Turkish language. … In summary, Turkey and the Central Asia marching on to the future have to make Turkish the language of the world at any cost.[3]

[1] Fethullah Gülen 2007c, 170.
[2] Fethullah Gülen 2010d, 33.
[3] Fethullah Gülen 2007c, 171–173.

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