Turkey has changed her name. Turkey will be known as Türkiye at the United Nations from now on, after it agreed to a formal request from Ankara.
Several international bodies will be asked to make the name change as part of a rebranding campaign launched by the Turkish president late last year.
“Türkiye is the best representation and expression of the Turkish people’s culture, civilization, and values,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in December.
The UN says it made the change as soon as it received the request this week.
Most Turks already know their country as Türkiye. However the anglicised form Turkey is widely used, even within the country.
State broadcaster TRT was quick to make the change as soon as it was announced last year, explaining that among the reasons for the image rebrand was the association with the bird traditionally associated with Christmas, New Year or Thanksgiving.
It also pointed out the Cambridge English Dictionary’s definition of one of the meanings of the word as “something that fails badly” or “a stupid or silly person”.
As part of the re-branding, “Made in Türkiye” will feature on all exported products, and in January a tourism campaign was launched with the catch-phrase “Hello Türkiye”.
The move has been met with a mixed reaction online. While government officials support it, others say it is an ineffective distraction as the president gears up for elections next year, amid an economic crisis.
It is not uncommon for countries to change their names.
In 2020, The Netherlands dropped Holland in a rebranding move. And before that, Macedonia changed its name to North Macedonia due to a political dispute with Greece, and Swaziland became Eswatini in 2018.
Further back in history, Iran used to be called Persia, Siam is now Thailand, and Rhodesia was changed to Zimbabwe.
The Ü may be tricky for most of the international audience who don’t have that letter in their alphabet but it’s the same as the German Ü, like the U in pure or cue. So for an English-speaker, changing the first vowel of Turkey to a Ü and adding an E to the end (as in pet) is enough to pronounce the new name perfectly.
But why was this necessary? President Erdogan was pushing for this move for years, arguing that the country would be better represented with the Turkish name instead of sharing the same word with a bird.
Turkey the bird is called by a different name in many languages, such as “peru” in Portuguese, while in Turkish it is “hindi”.
Many social media users refer to this fact to criticise the Turkish government’s move as absurd, while others agree that it was a necessary rebranding.
We have to wait and see if people around the world will accept Türkiye instead of Turkey, Turquie or Twrci.