SOAS University of London

Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East

Ottoman Turkish Language

Module Code:
Unit value:
Taught in:
Full Year

A first course in classical Ottoman Turkish (16th-19th centuries), involving study of the principal orthographic and grammatical features through detailed comparison of style and usage in selected texts.


Successful completion of Intensive Turkish language (T1) or equivalent standard in Turkish.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate…

  • an acquired competence in the reading of printed texts in Ottoman
  • progress in the translation and interpretation of Ottoman texts in the genres studied
  • a better understanding of the written legacy of the Ottoman empire
  • a good understanding of the Turkish language reform
  • appropriate knowledge of the philological and methodological issues with which Ottomanists engage
  • knowledge and understanding of the role of language in general, and Turkish in particular, in language-based scholarship and research (specific learning outcome for PG students)


The course will normally consist of two hours of class work per week. Students are expected to prepare weekly transcription assignments and translations into English.

Scope and syllabus

The texts to be read will normally be printed sources in the Ottoman script, and will be selected mostly from prose works which may include historiography, travel literature, reference works, treatises and letters/documents. Material is prepared in transcription for analysis and discussion in class. Some background reading in English and modern Turkish on Ottoman literary history is be required.

Method of assessment

One written paper in May-June (100% of the final mark).

Suggested reading

Basic bibliography:
  • Deny, Jean, 1921. Grammaire de la langue turque (dialecte osmanli). Paris. 
  • Battersby, Harold, 1966. Arabic and Persian Elements in Ottoman Turkish (Osmanlıca)', in Reşit Rahmeti Arat için, Ankara: Türk Kültürünü Araştırma Enstitüsü 19: 95-141. 
  • Baysun, Cavid M., ed., 1964. Tarihî eserlerden seçilmiş eski metinler. Istanbul. 
  • Nemeth, J., 1962. Turkish Grammar. The Hague. ccccLevend, 
  • Levend, Agâh Sirri, 1960. Türk dilinde gelişme ve sadeleşme evreleri. Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu. Pp. 1-14, 76-83. 
  • Tekin, Sinasi, and Gönül Alpay Tekin, 1989. The Seyahatname of Evliya Celebi: facsimile of Topkapi Sarayi Bagdat 304. Part 1: Folios 1a-106a.. Introduction by Fahir İz. Sources of Oriental Languages and Literatures 11, Turkish Sources 9. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. 
  • Timurtaş, F. K., 1962. Osmanlica (Eski yazı - gramer - metinler). Istanbul. 
  • Timurtaş F. K., 1972. Yeni Osmanlica Metinleri. Istanbul: İstanbul Üniversitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi yayınları.
  • Timurtaş, Faruk, 1983. Osmanli Türkçesi Grameri. Istanbul.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules