Japan’s Longtime Ally, Turkey and its Language

Japan-Turkey Friendship Celebrated in Movie "125 Years Memory" - Turkey and the Turkish Language

January 2, 2017

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Turkish Translation

Hello. I am Yucchi, a fledgling translator who transferred last autumn from a different field. I've only just started in translation so I have much to learn, but I'm studying hard with the help of my seniors.

In 2015, Japan and Turkey celebrated 125 years of friendship, and in December, the movie "125 Years Memory" ("Kainan 1890" in Japanese) was released, depicting the amicable relationship built up between the two countries since the Ertugrul shipwreck.

Having had little contact with Turkish before, I chose this occasion to do a little research on the Turkish language and Turkish translation.

Turkey's Geography and History

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Turkey is called the bridge between Asia and Europe, and is situated east of the Mediterranean Sea. To the north is the Black Sea, to the west Greece and Romania, and to the south Syria, Iraq and Iran. Next to Iran is Afghanistan and Russia. Therefore, on the map, one can easily see Turkey as a center connecting Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. In the descriptions provided by MOFA, Turkey was categorized under Middle East.

Today, 7.8 million people live in a territory of about twice the size of Japan's. The language spoken is Turkish. The majority of people are Islamic, but there are also people of the Greek Orthodox and Armenian Orthodox Church, as well as the Jewish faith.

In terms of the political relationship between Japan and Turkey, the MOFA website introduces the Ertugrul shipwreck. This was an incident in 1890, where a Turkish frigate was wrecked off the coast of Wakayama prefecture. The local Japanese rescued the Turks and cared for them with great sympathy. Since this incident, Japan and Turkey have had a friendly relationship. When the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred, the Turkish government sent an assistance team to Japan, and stayed committed over a long period. Learning of this relationship of mutual assistance warmed my heart. Additionally, according to the Turkish Embassy Office of the Cultural and Information Counselor, the rich culinary culture of Turkey is popular in Japan as well, with a wide variation of dishes of which Turkish ice cream and Kebab are only a part of.

According to the Investment Support and Promotion Agency of Turkey (ISPAT), Turkey is experiencing rapid economic growth, with its GDP tripling from 2002 to 2014. The consumer market is also expanding, and more and more companies are tapping in. A convenient geographical position and the large population of youth labor seem to be the factors contributing to this economic growth.

Facts about Turkey

The Turkish Language

Turkish is spoken in Turkey and the Republic of Cyprus. According to the website of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Turkish used to be written in Arabic, but now it is written in the Latin alphabet, so it seems more approachable than other languages in the Middle East. The general order of words is "subject, object, verb" and therefore should be familiar to Japanese. The alphabet is made up of 29 letters, with 8 vowels and 21 consonants, and can be read straightforwardly. A useful word for greetings, "hello," is written as "Merhaba" and read the same as an English word would be.

Business and Communication

According to a website on business manners called businessculture.org, Turkey has religious holidays and festivals, so one should be careful when making business appointments. The preferred style of dress is a conservative and formal one. Turkish people, as many others, like to work long-term with people they can trust. Therefore, one should work to show an attitude that promotes mutual trust.

Knowing about Turkey as a Japanese

After doing this research, I got to know Turkey's exact location and its location relative to its neighboring countries for the first time. It is remarkable that the amicable relationship between Turkey and Japan has continued for such a long time. Although the people in Turkey have positive emotions for Japan, I did not know much about Turkey. I think if more Japanese people knew about the Ertugrul incident and the fact that Japanese and Turkish have the same word order, they might take more interest in Turkey and start learning the language.

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