THE POLICY OF TURKIFICATION OF THE ARMENIAN TOPONYMS IN THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE AND THE REPUBLIC OF TURKEY – 2010-1

The decree issued by Enver Pasha, the Minister of War, January 5, 1916 

Summary

Lusineh S. Sahakyan
Toponyms represent linguistic characteristicsw with important historical and political significance. The Young Turk rulers in 1916 Ottoman Empire and those in the Republic of Turkey realized the strategic importance of the toponyms and persistently implemented policies of distortion and appropriation. With the aim of assimilating the toponyms of the newly conquered territories, the Ottoman authorities translated them into Turkish from their original languages or transformed the local dialectal place-names by way of distortion to make them sound like Turkish wordforms. Yet another method of appropriation was that of the etymological misinterpretation of the toponyms in question. A widespread method was also renaming the places and discarding the former place-names altogether. The focus of the present article is the place-name transformation policy of the Ottoman Empire as well as the Republic of Turkey; the Ottoman (Latin-transcript)-Armenian translation of the decree, dating January 5, 1916, issued by Enver Pasha, the Minister of War, is presented in this article for the first time in English, Armenian and Russian translations. It concerns the transformation of “non-Muslim” place-names. The article also deals with the artificial term of “Eastern Anatolia”that was coined to replace Western Armenia, the political objectives of the pro-Turkish circle, as well as the aftermath of putting the mentioned ersatz term into circulation.

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