Consequently, Ottoman Turkish was largely unintelligible to the less-educated lower-class and to rural Turks, who continued to use kaba Türkçe ("raw/vulgar Turkish"; compare
Vulgar Latin and
Demotic Greek), which used far fewer foreign
loanwords and is the basis of the modern standard. The
Tanzimât era (1839–1876) saw the application of the term "Ottoman" when referring to the language (لسان عثمانیlisân-ı Osmânî or عثمانليجهOsmanlıca); Modern Turkish uses the same terms when referring to the language of that era (Osmanlıca and Osmanlı Türkçesi). More generically, the Turkish language was called تركچهTürkçe or تركیTürkî "Turkish".
Genitive: suffix ڭ/نڭ–(n)ıñ, –(n)iñ, –(n)uñ, –(n)üñ. پاشانڭpaşanıñ 'of the pasha'; كتابڭkitabıñ 'of the book'.
Definiteaccusative: suffix ى–ı, -i: طاوشانى كترمشṭavşanı getürmiş 'he/she brought the rabbit'. The variant suffix –u, –ü does not occur in Ottoman Turkish orthography (unlike in Modern Turkish), although it's pronounced with the
vowel harmony. Thus, كولىgöli 'the lake' vs. Modern Turkish gölü.
Locative: suffix ده–de, –da: مكتبدهmektebde 'at school', قفسدهḳafeṣde 'in (the/a) cage', باشدهbaşda 'at a/the start', شهردهşehirde 'in town'. The variant suffix used in Modern Turkish (–te, –ta) does not occur.
Ablative: suffix دن–den, -dan: ادمدنadamdan 'from the man'.
Instrumental: suffix or postposition ايلهile. Generally not counted as a grammatical case in modern grammars.
The conjugation for the aorist tense is as follows:
Ottoman Turkish was highly influenced by Arabic and Persian. Arabic and Persian words in the language accounted for up to 88% of its vocabulary. As in most other Turkic and foreign languages of Islamic communities, the Arabic
borrowings were borrowed through Persian, not through direct exposure of Ottoman Turkish to Arabic, a fact that is evidenced by the typically Persian
phonological mutation of the words of Arabic origin.
The conservation of archaic phonological features of the Arabic borrowings furthermore suggests that Arabic-incorporated Persian was absorbed into pre-Ottoman
Turkic at an early stage, when the speakers were still located to the north-east of
Persia, prior to the westward migration of the Islamic Turkic tribes. An additional argument for this is that Ottoman Turkish shares the Persian character of its Arabic borrowings with other Turkic languages that had even less interaction with Arabic, such as
Uyghur. From the early ages of the Ottoman Empire, borrowings from Arabic and Persian were so abundant that original Turkish words were hard to find. In Ottoman, one may find whole passages in Arabic and Persian incorporated into the text. It was however not only extensive loaning of words, but along with them much of the grammatical systems of Persian and Arabic.
In a social and pragmatic sense, there were (at least) three variants of Ottoman Turkish:
Fasih Türkçe (Eloquent Turkish): the language of poetry and administration, Ottoman Turkish in its strict sense;
Orta Türkçe (Middle Turkish): the language of higher classes and trade;
Kaba Türkçe (Rough Turkish): the language of lower classes.
A person would use each of the varieties above for different purposes, with the fasih variant being the most heavily suffused with Arabic and Persian words and kaba the least. For example, a scribe would use the Arabic asel (عسل) to refer to
honey when writing a document but would use the native Turkish word bal when buying it.
Historically, Ottoman Turkish was transformed in three eras:
Eski Osmanlı Türkçesi (Old Ottoman Turkish): the version of Ottoman Turkish used until the 16th century. It was almost identical with the Turkish used by
Seljuk empire and
Anatolian beyliks and was often regarded as part of Eski Anadolu Türkçesi (
Old Anatolian Turkish).
Orta Osmanlı Türkçesi (Middle Ottoman Turkish) or Klasik Osmanlıca (
Classical Ottoman Turkish): the language of poetry and administration from the 16th century until
Yeni Osmanlı Türkçesi (New Ottoman Turkish): the version shaped from the 1850s to the 20th century under the influence of journalism and Western-oriented literature.
Historically speaking, Ottoman Turkish is the predecessor of modern Turkish. However, the standard Turkish of today is essentially Türkiye Türkçesi (Turkish of Turkey) as written in the Latin alphabet and with an abundance of
neologisms added, which means there are now far fewer loan words from other languages, and Ottoman Turkish was not instantly transformed into the Turkish of today. At first, it was only the script that was changed, and while some households continued to use the Arabic system in private, most of the Turkish population was illiterate at the time, making the switch to the Latin alphabet much easier. Then, loan words were taken out, and new words fitting the growing amount of technology were introduced. Until the 1960s, Ottoman Turkish was at least partially intelligible with the Turkish of that day. One major difference between Ottoman Turkish and modern Turkish is the latter's abandonment of
compound word formation according to Arabic and Persian grammar rules. The usage of such phrases still exists in modern Turkish but only to a very limited extent and usually in
specialist contexts; for example, the Persian
genitive constructiontakdîr-i ilâhî (which reads literally as "the preordaining of the divine" and translates as "divine dispensation" or "destiny") is used, as opposed to the normative modern Turkish construction, ilâhî takdîr (literally, "divine preordaining").
In 2014, Turkey's Education Council decided that Ottoman Turkish should be taught in Islamic high schools and as an elective in other schools, a decision backed by President
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who said the language should be taught in schools so younger generations do not lose touch with their cultural heritage.
The transliteration system of the İslâm Ansiklopedisi has become a de facto standard in
Oriental studies for the transliteration of Ottoman Turkish texts. Concerning
transcription the New Redhouse, Karl Steuerwald and Ferit Develioğlu dictionaries have become standard. Another transliteration system is the
Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft (DMG), which provides a transliteration system for any Turkic language written in Arabic script. There are not many differences between the İA and the DMG transliteration systems.
^M. Sukru Hanioglu, "A Brief History of the Late Ottoman Empire", Published by Princeton University Press, 2008. p. 34: "It employed a predominant Turkish syntax, but was heavily influenced by Persian and (initially through Persian) Arabic.
^Pierre A. MacKay, "
The Fountain at Hadji Mustapha", Hesperia, Vol. 36, No. 2 (Apr. – Jun., 1967), pp. 193–195: "The immense Arabic contribution to the lexicon of Ottoman Turkish came rather through Persian than directly, and the sound of Arabic words in Persian syntax would be far more familiar to a Turkish ear than correct Arabic".
Mehmet Hakkı Suçin. Qawâ'id al-Lugha al-Turkiyya li Ghair al-Natiqeen Biha (Turkish Grammar for Arabs; adapted from Mehmet Hengirmen's Yabancılara Türkçe Dilbilgisi), Engin Yayınevi, 2003).
Mehmet Hakkı Suçin. Atatürk'ün Okuduğu Kitaplar: Endülüs Tarihi (Books That
Atatürk Read: History of Andalucia; purification from the Ottoman Turkish, published by Anıtkabir Vakfı, 2001).
Kerslake, Celia (1998). "La construction d'une langue nationale sortie d'un vernaculaire impérial enflé: la transformation stylistique et conceptuelle du turc ottoman". In Chaker, Salem (ed.). Langues et Pouvoir de l'Afrique du Nord à l'Extrême-Orient.
Edisud. pp. 129–138.
Korkut M. Buğday (1999). Otto Harrassowitz Verlag (ed.). Osmanisch: Einführung in die Grundlagen der Literatursprache.