6 Nisan 2017 Perşembe
It has been only one month since my spouse has explained me about his new finding that all the nouns which stand for women in current Turkish all rooted in old Turkish. These words have survived the intense pressure of Arabic and Persian that affected the language especially after the relocation of the Turkish tribes near Anatolia, neighboring these ethnicities. It is very interesting that while the people’s vision of women and their roles in social life has deteriorated in an outstanding fashion since then, leaving the women in a less participatory stance in decision making process and lower status against men, the native Turkish language has resisted somehow to adapt to those neighboring cultures. That is, the words used today in Turkish like adam (man), koca(husband) have Arabic and Persian origin, whilst the words defining women like kadın(woman), ana (mother), hanım (wife), hatun (wife), kız (girl) are all inherent in old Turkish language. What is more, there has never been a substitituon for these nouns from any other languages. Is not that incredibly inspiring for Turkish feminists?
I could have perceived this fact as a normally acceptable subject when considered to our culture’s obsessively possessive view on motherhood and sisters, until I suddenly realized that there is more to add to this language aspect. Did you know that Turkish language has no pronouns that identify between genders? I mean, today while the English language is in a Shakespearean retrospective search for substitution of pronouns he/she, him/her, his/her to use with a neutral shortcut as they, them and their, it is fascinating that the Turkish grammar has never questioned the gender of pronouns. A Turkish speaker never needs a hypothetically neutral pronoun when referring to a fictitious person. Likewise, in Turkish Facebook , you would never come accross with a “they/their/them” use for an account which has not submitted the gender data. There is only one pronoun for someone you are talking about and it is also the shortest word in Turkish language: “o”. That is enough.
Move further? For example in Turkish we do not have any feminine or masculine articles for nouns, because why should we ever need them? Perhaps it is the very strikingly incomprehensible part of learning languages for us, like German, French or Spanish in which you need to diversify between everyday objects in terms of their gender. A tree is a tree in Turkish and that is all. Why on earth should it also have a sex? Now think about a group of 6 women regarded with the pronoun “ellas” in Spanish. Who can explain how the word turns into “ellos” after adding one man to this group? That does not sound very mathematical to me, maybe gender sociologists would find it interesting to dig into this.
I really can live up to all these culturally pre-accepted and uncontested facts. However these findings have evoked me to write this article especially after I came across this unbelievably distorted piece of information on Wikipedia which claims that “Finnish has only gender-neutral pronouns and completely lacks grammatical gender.” I hope to make a revision on this definition by provoking some of our linguists and academic connections. Any comments or references to intrigue this issue is a valuable asset. Wish me luck.