Posted on June 23, 2024



Turkey Jive

I before E and sometimes Y. Not.


Daniel Clark



If you've been watching any of the Euro 2024 soccer tournament, or even if you have just happened across it in your TV listings, you may have noticed the participation of some team called "Turkiye," except that in this spelling there is an umlaut over the letter "u." This, of course, is the country formerly known as Turkey, which before that was named Turk Dogg Diddy. Well, not really, but if we had called it that over here, it would have been nobody else's business.

In 2021, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave a speech before the United Nations in which he asked that the rest of the world spell the name of his country the same way its own people do. "Turkiye [umlaut omitted] is the best representation and expression of the Turkish people's culture, civilization and values," he said. Early last year, our State Department agreed to adopt the Turk-approved spelling in diplomatic communications. Evidently, some of our sports media have acquiesced, also.

The fact of the matter is that Erdogan is wrong. His preferred nomenclature is clearly not the best representation and expression of anything, in any country that does not find it linguistically convenient. His expectation smacks of the kind of arrogance that liberals like to ascribe to Americans, even though we would never dream of doing the same thing. Imagine if the United States told the rest of the world to say and spell the name of our country the same way we do, even if it is difficult for them to pronounce, and even if it contains characters that are not part of their written languages. The howls from the multiculturalists would be deafening. O, the xenophobia! O, the jingoism!

Yet Turkey is not alone in making such an unreasonable demand. The government of the Ivory Coast expects us all to call it "Cote d'Ivoire," with a caret over the "o" in "Cote." As practically anybody can tell right away, Ivory Coast is simply Cote d'Ivoire translated into non-sniveling, so why not simply say the words in our own language? We don't take it as an insult when Spanish-speaking people call our country Estados Unidos, nor do we insist that they strain to form the words "United States" rather than simply translating them into Spanish.

It is far from universal for the people of one country to refer to another country by the same name it applies to itself. There is not a nation on earth that calls itself Spain, Poland or Japan, for example. Each of those countries is far friendlier to us than Turkey has been, and yet we do not refer to them by their chosen titles. So why should Turkey rate exceptional treatment? Because Erdogan said so. That's apparently all it takes. Had every other government made a similar declaration, our media would now be referring to such places as Deutschland, Sverige and Magyarorszag.

Not only are we supposed to call other countries by whatever names they want, but if this involves the adoption of letters and other characters we don't use, then the English language must yield. We have seen this rule applied not only in the Turkey example, but in the general proliferation of non-English letters and punctuation across the liberal print and broadcast media. Not only have accent marks become commonplace, but so have tildes, umlauts, carets, the O with a diagonal line through it, and the c with a dangling booger. If you resist this orthographic invasion on the basis that our language makes no use of these symbols, then you are the problem. You bigot.

Liberals like to mock people who believe in American exceptionalism, but they believe in it too, in a manner of speaking. From their point of view, every country has a right to secure its borders, except America. Every country may exploit its natural resources, except America. Every country deserves to have its history and traditions respected, except America. Every country is entitled to a language that adheres to certain rules, except America.

It isn't true, of course. Even our own government cannot dictate what we say and write, let alone those of Turkey and the Ivory Coast. If we think the accommodations they expect are unreasonable, then we just don't make them. Modifying vowels with foreign markings and using linguistically problematic triphthongs like "iye" are nonstarters. If the president of Turkey doesn't like it, he can go get stuffed. And no, we shouldn't care what he thinks of bad puns like that.



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