Linguistic Landscape and Multilingualism in Turkey

Melike Üzüm (Baskent University/ Johannes Gutenberg University)
Nurettin Demir (Hacettepe University)
Speakers: Melike Üzüm, Nurettin Demir
Topic: Linguistic Landscape
COMELA 2022 General Session


The language used in an area represents language policies, language ideology and the communities living in that geography. The area’s linguistic landscape addressing the use of language offers us to information to understand the language as regards social, cultural, and political. The concept of linguistic landscape is defined in detail as a research area that seeks to understand and interpret the motivation, ideology, variables of language, and the race between different forms of language, seen in public spaces surrounding us (Gorter 2019: 41).

Although limited research and data is documenting the status of local languages in Turkey, some sources on the status of languages are accessible online. According to the world languages database of Ethnologue (Eberhard, 2021), there is a total of 40 languages in Turkey. Another important source on languages, Glottolog, lists 52 languages (Hammarströ, 2019).

Referring to Turkey’s history, it is seen that Turkey has a multi-cultural community remaining from the Ottoman Empire. Although this cultural mosaic united under Turkish, it has been protected in architecture for many years and culturally. However, in recent years, Turkey linguistic landscape has been affected by political and cultural changes in the country, immigration, tourism, the popularity of western languages, the development of technology, etc. The change caused by these reasons is reflected in graffiti, advertisements, movies, restaurant names and menus, promotional brochures, customer service of various organizations, and information pages as language choices.  Some sanctions were applied about against the changing language choices in Turkey, visibility of other languages and the use of Turkish in response to publishing new regulations by the government and affiliated institutions.

In this study, the visibility of languages other than Turkish (major language/standard language) and the applied language policy will be evaluated. The analyzed data were collected especially from the capital Ankara.

Hammarström, Harald & Forkel, Robert & Haspelmath, Martin. 2019. Glottolog 4.1. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. (Available online at, Accessed on 2020-04-07)
Eberhard, David M., Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2020.  Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Twenty-third edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online version: (accessed on 2020-004-01)
Gorter, D. (2019). Language contact in the linguistic landscape. In J. Darquennes, J. Salmons & W. Vandenbussche (Ed.). HSK – Language Contact. Vol. 1 (pp. 431-441). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter Mouton.

Keywords: linguistic landscape, Turkey, immigration, multilingualism