Bianet marked this year's International Mother Language Day on 21 February with a unique project. Today's Turkish bianet homepage comprises articles in 20 different languages still spoken in different regions of Turkey. While some of these languages are spoken by a greater community, like the Laz or Georgian languages, Zaza and Kurmanci, other mother languages such as Western Armenian, Ladino and Kumyk are included on the UNESCO World Atlas of Languages in Danger.
bianet asked people related to different language communities how they learned the language, where they use it nowadays and how they feel about their mother language.
Yuhanna Aktaş for instance recalled how he learned the Syriac alphabet unofficially and secretly at church and in a monastery. "The spoken language, I learned at home from my father. Teaching this ancient language is forbidden, hence it is at risk of disappearing completely. Saint Afrem says 'You don't know where you come from, when you don't know your mother language'. According to Afrem, language is the most important tool for the continuation of a people. Abdüldmeseli Karabaş, another Syriac writer, said 'every oppressed people trying to protect their mother language resemble a captive with the prison keys in his hand who expects to be freed any moment'.
bianet gathered the impressions and experiences from people in 20 different mother languages of Turkey:
Bosnian, Romany, Laz, Western Armenian, Crimean Tatar language, Digoron, Hemshin language, Goran, Ladino, Kurmanci, Georgian, Ossetic Iron, Syriac, Arabic, Adyghe, Zaza, Karaçay language, Pomak, Levantine, and Greek.
Click here to see all articles in the different mother languages and related alphabets.