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Who Are The Turks?

It is common especially for Westerners to think that the Turks would consider themselves as part of the Ottoman Empire. However, Turks do not consider their ethnicity as stemming from the dynasty of the Emir Osman, the founder of the Ottoman Empire in the 13th century, A.D.

Firstly, the proper name of the country, Türkiye, or in English, Turkey, comes from the name of the people, Turks, or the language, Turkish. This name originates long before the Ottoman Empire. Much of present day Central Asia was Turkish land, bordering present day China.

Turkish culture is a rich mixture produced by numerous culture groups, including Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern, European, and Anatolian cultures. The Turks have slowly been forced to move west for various reasons more than a thousand years ago, before the Ottoman Empire. Modern day Turkey has ineffect, "absorbed" the Turkish identity from other groups East of them. Other Central Asia countries no longer consider themselves Turkish.

Turkish language comes from the Altaic language group, named after the Altaic Mountains in Central Asia. It includes languages from a wide area, including the subgroups of Turkic, Mongolic, Tungusic, and Japonic and Korean.

Turkish identity also has been defined by Islam, as is so common in other Central Asian countries and cultures. To truly understand the Turks, one needs to study Islam, as is practiced in Turkey, the Seljuk Turks, the Anatolians, the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires, and the intermix of other cultures going back to the beginning of civilization. In Anatolia, for example, Catal Huyuk was one of the first towns of the world.

Not least in importance, is a study of the role of the story of Modern Turkey, which Atatürk tried, with considerable success, to make into a European rather than a Middle Eastern country. The conflicts that attend these different influences, however, continue.

Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D, accessed 11.7.2011, http://www.friesian.com/turkia.htm

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