ATATURK: LEADER OF A NATION
Some Current Ramifications of Turkey’s
English as the second language - 2
Ambassador Robert P. Finn, Prof. Umut Uzer (Moderator), Prof. Heath W. Lowry and
Prof. Arnold Reisman were panelists during 2nd Annual Ataturk Symposium
at the United Nation on Dec.7, 2010. (Left to right)
Photos: Sirin CENGIZALP, Lightmillennium.org
During the Ottoman times, those Turkish people who were educated were enrolled in order to be muslims and scholars and the devshirmes (skillful young boys) in order to be officers and soldiers. At the medreses, (a kind of school where courses on different branches of science and literature beside courses, on medicine, administration, law and the all embracing religion) they were taught in Arabic and in Turkish and French at the military academies.
The mother tongue of most educated people was at all times Turkish. However, they used mostly Persian during the time of the Seljuk Empire, and Arabic and Persian during the Ottoman Empire due to the heavy usage of these languages for governmental, commercial, scientific and religious purposes. On the other hand, laymen whose mother tongue was Turkish knew only how to read the Koran in Arabic for religious purposes most without understanding its meaning.
French was the second language of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey’s founding fathers had many reasons for a propensity to maintain French, the Ottoman’s lingua franca, as the Republic’s second language and to stay in the French orbit of influence.
Comparing the Republic of Turkey, which over time opted for English as the second language, to those countries which retained French as their lingua franca raises many “what if” questions and ideas which are currently very timely.
As is attested by Demircan, Ömer to an ever increasing extent Turkish students at a young age chose English as a second language in lieu of French. This is in stark contrast to their cohorts in the Francophonie countries. He provides the following data re students learning a foreign language in the secondary schools:
1950-51: German: 5.612; French: 79.208; English: 48. 434; Arabic: 0
1960-61: German: 30.504; French: 155.824; English: 217. 926; Arabic: 4.548
1970-71: German: 116.124; French: 293.057; English: 840.848; Arabic: 49.308
1980-81: German: 303.734; French: 322.245; English: 1.540138; Arabic: 216.864
He further stated that until 1950 French remained the first foreign language taught and in 1953-53 English became the first foreign language, followed by French and after 1980 German took the place of French.
As important as literacy and accessibility to the best of intellectual culture from worldwide sources and across all time may be they are but two measures of national/societal development. Over the years other indicators have been developed by various international agencies and NGOs. Among these is the Human Development Index which ranks all 177 UN member states in descending order and provides for each some additional socio economic macro-indicators. It is prepared and periodically evaluated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The Global Competitiveness Index is maintained by the World Economic Forum (WEF) And the Corruption Perception Index is maintained by Transparency International, a London/Berlin based NGO.
The Freedom House, a not-for-profit think-tank, has published Freedom in the World since 1978. “Widely used by policy-makers, journalists, and scholars,” it is an annual rating of the state of political rights and civil liberties in 192 countries. The freedom levels of Political Rights and Civil Liberties are rated in each of the countries on a seven (7) point scale with 1 being the most free. These results are then averaged for each country and the countries are grouped as Free, Partly Free and Not Free.
Albeit focused on Arab countries, the UN (2002) report noted the critical link between human freedom and human development. “The wave of democracy that transformed governance in most of Latin America and East Asia in the 1980s and Eastern Europe and much of Central Asia in the late 1980s and early 1990s has barely reached the Arab states.”
What is true of “Arab states” is also true for the much larger set of non-European Frankophonie countries. Table 1 vividly shows the that the Fronkophonie countries tend to bunch up at the lowest ranks of all countries so rated.
Frankophonie countries in each “freedom” category as a percentage of total in the category.
Percent of countries
While there are many sources of economic data, good political data is hard to find. Freedom House's survey is an exception. For anyone concerned with the state of freedom, or simply with the state of the world, Freedom in the World is an indispensable guide. -Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek.
Moreover the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) using United Nations databases periodically compiles and publishes the Human Development Index (HDI) which ranks all 177 UN member states in descending order and provides for each some additional socio economic macro-indicators. Combining the above HDI rankings with the 37 non-European full OIF members we find the following: Of the ten (10) lowest HDI ranked countries no fewer than eight (8) are full Francophonie members. Twenty are in the lowest third and all but four (4) are in the lower half. Turkey is ranked 92 out of 177 or just below the median.
In 2002, Sweden had the highest life expectancy at birth – 80 years. That year in eight (8) of the Francophonie member states’ life expectancy was below 50 years - Sierra Leone coming in at 34.3, Central African Republic at 39.8, Cote d ‘Ivoire 41.2, Congo, Democratic Republic at 41.4, and in the western hemisphere, Haiti at 49.4 while Turkey had 68.9.
For the same year Norway had the highest GDP per capita - US$36,600. Turkey had US$7,753, while twenty-one (21) of the Francophonie member states show it below US$2,100 - Sierra Leone coming in at US$520, Burundi at US$630, Congo Democratic Republic at US$650, Guinea- Bissau at US$710, Madagascar at US$740, and Congo at US$980. All but Seychelles US$18232, and Mauritius US$10,810, were below US$10,000. Most were significantly below that figure.
Three of the Francophonie member states had an adult literacy rate below 20% and thirteen below 50%, with Burundi coming in at 59.4% and Haiti at 51.9% at the same time Turkey came in with 87.4%.
The 2004 the World Economic Forum (WEF) rated Tunisia at 4.51 with a ranking as 42nd, Morocco at 4.06 is 56th and Egypt at 3.88 is 62nd, among 104 nations so rated. None of the other Arab states using a lingua franca were even rated and ranked. Sadly such is the case also for pretty much all of the former French colonies such as those in South East Asia, South Pacific, Equatorial and West Africa as well as those in the Americas. Turkey was rated at 4.14 with a ranking of 59
For comparative purposes, Finland is number one scoring 5.95, Israel scoring 5.09 is ranked 19th France is 27th with a score of 4.92, Korea 29th with a score of 4.90, and Turkey at 3.82, is 66th.
Based on data supplied by The World Bank Group, (2004), the Per-Capita Exports of Goods and Services for 158 selected countries in 2002 current US $, Luxembourg topped the list with a figure of US$68,814. Of the lowest ten countries on the list, no fewer than eight were Francophonie members. Central African Republic is listed at US$33, Niger at US$30, Chad at US$29, Sierra Leone at US$27, Burkina Faso at US$22, Congo Democratic Republic at US$20, Rwanda at US$16, and Burundi at US$6. Twenty three, of the 37 Francophonie member states exported less than US$250 on a per capita basis in 2002 . In 2004, Turkey exported US$2,220 in goods and US$343 in services for a total of US$2563.
Since these are predominantly agricultural societies, an appropriate question to ask is: How do these countries rate in exporting raw agricultural produce on a per capita basis? The same data source allowed calculation of this metric for only 84 countries. Surprisingly the Netherlands came in the highest at US$586.31. France came in at US$55.34, Cameroon at US$21.59, French Polynesia at US$10.04, Mauritius at US$6.81, Senegal at US$3.51, Dominica at US$0.74, St Lucia at US$0.73, Rwanda at US$0.37, and Egypt at US$ 0.09.
Transparency International, a London/Berlin based NGO concerned with levels of corruption around the globe released its corruption (CPI) Index ratings involving 159 nation states. Chad rates the lowest with a score of 1.7 out of 10. Five (5) of the above francophone countries are among the lowest 10% of countries listed, and eleven (11) are in the lowest 20% bracket.
Tunisia with a score of 4.9 out of 10 ranks the highest among these countries. According to Transparency International, “More than two-thirds of the 159 nations surveyed scored less than 5 out of a clean score of 10, indicating serious levels of corruption in a majority of the countries surveyed.”. Thus, all non-European francophone countries are found to be seriously corrupt and most are extremely so.
All of these well established and highly regarded country rankings speak to the current state of Turkey’s development relative to all other countries. Turkey ranks higher then its cohort countries, the 40 non-European Francophonie member states, and nations where the Arabic script is till the national alphabet. Much of that success story is directly traceable to its change of alphabet, promoting literacy, encouraging further education, a concerted effort to become a westernized nation state, and maintaining neutrality among the respective eastern as well as western blocks of influence.
The body of evidence taken as a whole, makes the case that Turkey succeeded in its socio-economic development because it changed its alphabet, instituted a determined literacy and education drive, substituted French for English as its second language, and moved away from the French orbit of influence.
1. Firdevs Karahan, Bilingualism in Turkey, Proceedings of the 4th International Symposium on Bilingualism, edited by James Cohen, Kara T. McAlister,Kellie Rolstad, and Jeff MacSwan, http://www.lingref.com/isb/4/089ISB4.PDF and www.cascadilla.com/isb4.html
2. Below from Firdevs Karahan, Bilingualism in Turkey, Proceedings of the 4th International Symposium on Bilingualism, edited by James Cohen, Kara T. McAlister,Kellie Rolstad, and Jeff MacSwan, http://www.lingref.com/isb/4/089ISB4.PDF and www.cascadilla.com/isb4.html
3. Demircan, Ömer. 1988. Dünden Bugüne Türkiye'de Yabanci Dil: Arapça, Farsça, Fransizca, Ingilizce, Almanca, Latince, Italyanca dillerinin ögretimi ve Türkçe'nin bu diller karsisindaki durumu. (Foreign Language in Turkey from Yesterday to Today: The Teaching of Arab, Persian, English, German, Latin, Italian Laguages and the State of Turkish versus These Languages) Istanbul: Remzi Kitabevi. p. 102
4. Ibid page 116,
5. The WEF's GCI involves the evaluation of three main sub indexes (each with multiple dimensions/attributes): the overall quality of a country's economy at the macro level (e.g., budget surpluses good, deficits bad); the state of its public institutions, which includes such measures as the independence of the judiciary and the level of public sector corruption; and the level of its technological innovation. Policy makers and administrators should take notice of the fact that scientific and technological innovation, indigenously produced and efficiently transferred to the private sector, holds a major key to the country’s economic development and relative standing among nations, Reisman (2004a).
6. http://www.freedomhouse.org/research/ /
7. The UNDP report further states: “Over the past twenty years, growth in per capita income was the lowest in the world except in sub-Saharan Africa. At an annual growth rate of 0.5% annually, if such trends continue in the future, it will take the average Arab citizen 140 years to double his or her income, while other regions are set to achieve that level in a matter of less than 10 years. (emphasis added). Labour productivity has been low and is declining. In fact: Total factor productivity declined at an annual average of 0.2% during 1960 – 1990, while it rapidly accelerated in other parts of the world. Compared to the Asian Tigers, per capita output was higher than the average of this group in 1960. Now it is half that in Korea. The productivity of Arab industrial labour in 1960 was 32% that of the North American level. By 1990, it had fallen to 19%. The decline in workers’ productivity has been accompanied by deterioration in real wages, which has accentuated poverty. It is evident that in both quantitative and qualitative terms, Arab countries have not developed as quickly or as fully as other comparable regions. From a human development perspective, the state of human development in the Arab world is a cause for concern. Achievements by the Arab region on the Human Development Index (HDI) in the past decade were lower than the world average.” Many of the non-Arab francophone countries are in sub-Saharan Africa.
9. France itself is ranked 16th among the 177 and for comparative purposes, US is 8th, UK 12th, New Zealand 18th, and Israel 22nd.
10. % of ages 15 and above in 2002
11. The WEF's GCI involves the evaluation of three main sub indexes (each with multiple dimensions/attributes): the overall quality of a country's economy at the macro level (e.g., budget surpluses good, deficits bad); the state of its public institutions, which includes such measures as the independence of the judiciary and the level of public sector corruption; and the level of its technological innovation. Policy makers and administrators should take notice of the fact that scientific and technological innovation, indigenously produced and efficiently transferred to the private sector, holds a major key to the country’s economic development and relative standing among nations,
12. Reisman, A. (2004). "Israel's Economic Development: The Role of Institutionalized Technology Transfer" (August 4, 2004). Downloadable from: http://ssrn.com/abstract=579883
15. Central African Republic, Djibuti, Martinique, Guataloupe and St. Lucia are not included.
17. http://www.weforum.org/pdf/Global_Competitiveness_Reports/Reports/gcr_2006/gcr2006_rankings. pdf
19. www.freedomhouse.org/research/ /, See Arnold Reisman and P. K. Saha (2007) What if the Republic of Turkey retained the Ottomans’ Lingua Franca and Stayed in the French Orbit of Nations? Working Paper.
Related by Prof. Arnold Reisman on the Lightmillennium.Org:
ATATURK: LEADER OF A NATION
- Some Current Ramifications of Turkey’s Alphabet Change in 1928
- Some Current Ramifications of Turkey’s invoking English as the second language by Prof. Arnold REISMAN
- TRANSFER OF WESTERN KNOWLEDGE TO TURKEY: Institutionalized Policy of Translaiton and Library Building
ANDIÇ & Arnold REISMAN
- Are Kurdish and Turkmen minorities more literate in Turkey than in other countries?
by Prof. Arnold REISMAN
Arnold Reisman PhD. PE
• My Enemy's Enemy
• An Ambassador and A Mensch: The story of a Turkish Diplomat in Vichy France
• SHOAH: Turkey, the US, and the UK
• Turkey's Modernization: Refugees from Nazism and Ataturk's Vision
• Post-Ottoman Turkey: Classical European Music and Opera
• Arts in Turkey: How Ancient Became Contemporary
• Refugees and Reforms: Turkey's Republican Journey
• The Transformation of Istanbul: Art Galleries Reviving Decaying Spaces
- . -
This speech was presented by Prof. Arnold Reisman during the Second Annual Ataturk Symposium entitled, "ATATURK: LEADER OF A NATION" (2/4) at the United Nations, New York City on December 7, 2010. We would like to thank to Prof. Arnold Reisman for sharing his speech with The Light Millennium. We also thank to the Istanbul University Alumni Association of U.S.A., and Young Turks Cultural Aid Society, and also sponsors of the Second Annual Ataturk Symposium. B.U.
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