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Politica e lingue

TURKEY MOVES TO PROTECT LANGUAGE FROM FOREIGN INFLUENCE

TURKEY MOVES TO PROTECT LANGUAGE FROM FOREIGN INFLUENCE
BY SUZAN FRASER

ANKARA, TURKEY (AP) _ TURKS WOULD NO LONGER BY ABLE TO BUY CLOTHES AT “TIFFANY AND TOMATO” OR EAT AT “HAPPY DAYS.” AND THEY CERTAINLY COULDN’T BE “COOL.”
ALARMED BY THE HEAVY WESTERN INFLUENCE IN TURKEY, THE ISLAMIC-LED GOVERNMENT IS MOVING TO PURGE THE TURKISH LANGUAGE OF ALL FOREIGN AGENTS _ AND TO LEVY STIFF FINES AGAINST THOSE WHO DON’T ADHERE.
UNDER A DRAFT BILL PREPARED BY STATE MINISTER ISILAY SAYGIN AND WIDELY SUPPORTED, FOREIGN NAMES _ WHICH OVER THE PAST DECADE HAVE SPROUTED UP ON RESTAURANTS AND STORES AND IN CONVERSATION _WOULD BE EXTINCT.
BUSINESSES WOULD BE COMPELLED TO REPLACE THEM WITH TURKISH NAMES.
AND TV PERSONALITIES WHO LET WESTERNISMS SLIP INTO THEIR PRESENTATIONS OR FAIL TO SPEAK “PROPER” TURKISH COULD BE BANISHED FROM THE AIRWAVES.
THAT, OF COURSE, WOULD SPELL THE END FOR THE CLOTHING STORE “TIFFANY AND TOMATO,” THE FAST FOOD RESTAURANT “HAPPY DAYS” AND COUNTLESS OTHER SUCH BUSINESSES THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY.
“(THE SHOPS) WERE MAKING OUR COUNTRY LOOK ALMOST LIKE A PLACE WHERE TURKISH IS THE FOREIGN LANGUAGE,” MRS. SAYGIN SAID.
RELIGIOUS AND NATIONALIST CONSERVATIVES, SEEKING TO PROMOTE TURKISH CULTURE AND VALUES, HAVE EXPRESSED ALARM AT WHAT THEY CALL THE DEGRADATION OF THE TURKISH LANGUAGE. MRS. SAYGIN BELONGS TO THE SECULAR TRUE PATH, WHICH JOINED A COALITION LED BY THE ISLAMIC WELFARE PARTY IN JUNE.
FOREIGN TERMS HAVE BECOME ESPECIALLY POPULAR AMONG YOUNG WELL-TO-DO TURKS, MANY OF WHOM HAVE STUDIED ABROAD IN EUROPE OR THE UNITED STATES. SATELLITE AND CABLE TELEVISION ALSO HAVE EXPOSED MANY TURKS TO WESTERN LANGUAGES.
SAYGIN AND OTHERS SAY TURKISH BROADCASTERS ON DOZENS OF PRIVATE TELEVISION STATIONS HAVE BECOME LAZY IN THEIR PRONUNCIATION AND GRAMMAR. YOUNG TELEVISION PRESENTERS, INFLUENCED BY THEIR WESTERN COUNTERPARTS, OFTEN TOSS IN ENGLISH WORDS SUCH AS “HIT,” “HOT" OR “COOL.”
THAT WOULD CHANGE UNDER THE NEW LAW.
TURKEY IS NOT THE FIRST COUNTRY TO OUTLAW THE USE OF ENGLISH. IN 1994, THE FRENCH PARLIAMENT BANNED 3,500 FOREIGN WORDS, INCLUDING “CHEESEBURGER,” “CHEWING GUM” AND “BULLDOZER,” FROM USE BY ADVERTISERS, SCHOOLS, GOVERNMENT AND CORPORATIONS. THE LAW REMAINS IN EFFECT.
BUT THE TURKISH VERSION WOULD BE HARSHER.
IF A FOREIGN LANGUAGE HAS TO BE USED ON A SIGN OR BILLBOARD, IT WOULD HAVE TO COME AFTER THE TURKISH NAME AND BE WRITTEN IN SMALLER AND DULLER LETTERS. THE BILL ALSO PROPOSES QUADRUPLING ADVERTISING TAXES FOR BUSINESSES USING A SECOND LANGUAGE.
TV AND RADIO PERSONALITIES MAKING “INTONATION, PRONUNCIATION AND SYNTAX” ERRORS ALSO FACE HEAVY FINES, AS DO NEWSPAPERS FOR ANY INCORRECT USE OF THE LANGUAGE.
THE BILL COULD TAKE MONTHS TO BECOME LAW. IT MUST BE DEBATED AND VOTED ON BY PARLIAMENT AND APPROVED BY THE PRESIDENT. BUT IT APPEARS TO HAVE AMPLE SUPPORT. EVEN OPPOSITION PARTIES HAVE OFFERED LITTLE RESISTANCE.
EXPERTS, HOWEVER, ARE SKEPTICAL ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF THE PROPOSED LEGISLATION.
“YOU CANNOT IMPROVE THE LANGUAGE BY FINES AND LAWS,” SAID TALAT TEKIN, A PROFESSOR OF TURKISH AT ANKARA UNIVERSITY. “THAT CAN ONLY BE DONE BY IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF EDUCATION.”
THE LAW, HE SAID, SEEKS TO STOP AN UNSTOPPABLE FORCE.
“IT IS NATURAL FOR FOREIGN WORDS TO ENTER LANGUAGES,” TEKIN SAID. “IF THE USE OF ENGLISH NAMES IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS, THEN THEY WILL BE USED. YOU CANNOT PREVENT THAT.”
SHOP OWNERS OFFERED MIXED REACTIONS.
“IT IS THE RIGHT DECISION,” SAID AHMET TOPCAM, WHO RENAMED HIS SMALL BED LINEN SHOP “WHITE HOUSE” AFTER MOVING TO A FASHIONABLE AREA OF ANKARA. “I’D GO BACK TO OUR OLD NAME ANY DAY.”
FIKRET BALCI, WHO OWNS THE MUSIC SHOP “SUPERSONIC” A FEW BLOCKS AWAY, ACKNOWLEDGED THAT FOREIGN NAMES WERE “GETTING OUT OF HAND,” BUT SAID FINES ARE NOT THE ANSWER.
“WE THOUGHT FOR A LONG TIME, AND `SUPERSONIC’ WAS THE BEST NAME WE COULD COME UP WITH,” HE SAID. “THERE JUST ISN’T A TURKISH EQUIVALENT.”

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