Sunday, January 08, 2017

Turkish in Syriac script

SYRIAC WATCH: A rose by any other name: When Turkish was written in the Greek, Armenian and even Syrian script. In the Ottoman Empire, Turkish in scripts other than Arabic were commonplace (Michael Erdman,
The final example of allography from the Ottoman Empire is a much less common one, but no less interesting. It is of the newspaper Leshānā d’umthā, Syriac for Voice of the Nation (BL 753.k.35). This bi-weekly was produced in Beirut, Lebanon from 1927 until 1946 and had articles in Syriac, Arabic and Turkish.

Arabic written in Syriac script is a common occurrence throughout the Christian Orient, and is referred to as Garshuni. Turkish written in Syriac characters, however, is far rarer, and represents a unique view into the linguistic, political and cultural identity of Beirut’s Christian communities decades after the end of Ottoman sovereignty.

Unlike Armeno-Turkish, the author of the Ottoman Turkish articles in this periodical adhered to Ottoman orthography as much as possible, even when it did not conform to the spoken language. This indicates that the compiler of the articles was educated in Ottoman Turkish, yet opted to write in Syriac script; a reminder of just how powerful the visual aspects of language were and are in the Middle East.
Follow the link for a photo.

The Syriac script has also been used to write other languages, including - as the article notes - Arabic (Garshuni), but also Georgian (Syro-Georgian).