Fed-up Turkey chooses to change its name to end anglicised confusion

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The country, now known as Türkiye internationally, is opting for the adjustment to avoid confusing with the English word, “turkey”. The switch will affect how other nations and peoples refer to the country, and how exported goods are labelled.

For international trade, anything manufactured in the country will now be “Made in Türkiye”.

The Turkish government has already rebranded, with its foreign ministry now known as “the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Republic of Türkiye”.

A new campaign, entitled “Hello Türkiye”, is already underway on social media.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, announcing the move in a communique, said: “The word Türkiye represents and expresses the culture, civilisation, and values of the Turkish nation in the best way.”

The president is in talks with the United Nations on making the name change official globally.

The UN needs to authorise the adoption of the new name before it comes into international effect.

Some senior Turkish officials have raised concerns that the swapping in of the letter “Ü”, which does not feature in the nominal Latin alphabet, could complicate its approval.

Those praising the move called it a representation of the “culture, civilisation, and values of the Turkish nation in the best way”, whilst others denounced it as a political distraction from domestic turmoil.

Some political commentators have seen the move as a departure from the country’s history of being accommodating to English-speaking tongues.

It is also not the first time a country or city has changed its name as opinion changes on its cultural connotations.

The Indian city of Mumbai was previously referred to as Bombay until the 1990s, when it made the switch to distance itself from the colonial tones of the earlier name.

Myanmar, formerly Burma, also overhauled its name in 1989 in a total change of label.

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The switch was made to mark a separation between the contemporary state and its colonial history.

And reasons may often be political – North Macedonia adopted its altered name from Macedonia after a protracted political spat with Greece.

The renaming of the south-eastern European country came into effect in February 2019.

Further back in history, Iran was created to replace the name Persia, which was common parlance in the English-speaking world.

The name change came in 1935 when the ruler decided the country should be named as it was known within its borders, not a label imposed from its exterior.

A similar principle applies to the new name of Türkiye, which is the Turkish spelling of the nation.

Additional reporting Maria Ortega.

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