Thinking of going on an international trip to beautiful Turkey? Then you might want to familiarise yourself with its new name: Turkiye (pronounced toor kee yeah), the Turkish word for the country. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan mooted the name change late last year and formalised a request to the UN recently, in a bid to reclaim Turkiye’s national heritage. Erdogan’s long rule has been marked by increasing authoritarianism, censorship and corruption allegations. Some commentators have taken the name change as a signal that Erdoğan’s government in Ankara is “no longer trying to appease Britain”. And apparently, the administration didn’t love that their country’s name was associated with a rather silly bird. 🦃
Countries, especially previously colonised nations, mostly change their names to take charge of how the world sees them, as TRTWorld reports; many countries choose to step away from an anglicised version of their names. Did you know that Iran was previously named Persia, because that was the name westerners mainly used? Before 2018, the Kingdom of eSwatini was known as Swaziland. King Mswati III said the change was to reclaim the country’s identity and break away from its colonial past but given his appalling human rights record, it seems like new names can sometimes be used as a distraction from leaders’ real failings. Still, referring to a country’s name in its own language sounds like a good idea to us… right, Mzanzi? 😜
This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 17 February 2022. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.