Similarities Between the Ottoman Turkish and Persian Languages

As I try to improve my Persian reading level to the desired level in order to be able to reach related primary sources, I start figuring out crucial similarities between the Persian and one of the necessary languages, for my research, Ottoman Turkish.

The Ottoman Turkish is a variety of Turkish language that was used in the Ottoman Empire between the 14th and 20th centuries. Although the language structure was indeed Turkish, it borrowed many loanwords, up to eighty-five per cent, especially from Arabic and Persian languages. The modern Turkish that is now spoken in Turkey was originated from “Vulgar Turkish” which was used by relatively unintelligent and less-educated people in the Ottoman Empire.

Although modern Turkish has fewer loanwords from Arabic and Persian languages compared to Ottoman Turkish, a Turkish-speaking person could easily understand many common words between these two languages. Further, as a person who studied Ottoman language before, I realised that being able to read the Ottoman language definitely helps me to learn Persian. First of all, the Ottoman Turkish and Persian has the same alphabet. Even after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the newly established state of Turkey had continued to use the Arabic alphabet up until the 1920s. Therefore, I thought that having full knowledge of the Arabic alphabet would be no doubt helpful in learning Persian. Secondly, beside the Persian loanwords in Turkish, the Persian language also has a considerable number of Turkic loanwords such as “otaq” -اتاق- which is called “oda” in Turkish and means “the room”, which in my opinion, another advantage that an Ottoman Turkish reader would be able to have.

At the end of the third week in Persian language summer program in Armenia, I feel that I managed to have a good spell of Persian. I started reading lower intermediate texts and my speaking level is getting better every passing day. I hope that at the end of the sixth week, I will start reading the upper intermediate level Persian text and further improve my speaking skills in the targeted language.