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Hacettepe University
Turkish Studies Institute
The 4th International Turkish Research Symposium


Hacettepe University Turkish Studies Institute has started the preparations for the 4th International Turkish Studies Symposium. The organization committee has identified the subject of the symposium as “Turkic Communities whose Languages and Cultures are Endangered” and the motto of the symposium as ‘Before the Last Voices are Heard.’

The endangered languages are those which have scarce or no intergenerational transmission. Their speakers are diminishing increasingly and, within a predictable period, no speakers of those languages in question will be left.  During the process of extinction, cultures are also damaged severely; first they get blurred; that is to say, people try to keep their cultures alive without fully understanding what they mean.  After several generations, they completely become a part of the dominant culture. 

UNESCO states that half of the 6700 languages are in danger of becoming extinct before the end of the century and that this situation could partially be taken under control if governments and speakers of the languages in question take urgent measures. UNESCO aims at calling attention to this vital problem through ‘The Program of Languages in Danger’ and finding solutions by the help of authorities.  In this program, the languages fall under six categories, from safe to extinct:

The degree of the risk

Intergenerational language transmission


Language is spoken by all generations; intergenerational transmission is uninterrupted


Most children speak the language, but it may be restricted to certain domains

definitely endangered

Children no longer learn the language as their mother tongue at home

severely endangered

Language is spoken by grandparents and older generations; while the parent generation may understand it, they do not speak it with children or among themselves

critically endangered

The youngest speakers are grandparents and older generations, and they speak the language partially and infrequently


There are no speakers left

In this program, vitality/danger relationship relies on nine factors:

- intergenerational transmission of languages

- the exact number of speakers

- the percentage of the speakers in the total population

- the changes in the fields of language use

- the reaction towards new fields and the media

- providing material for language, education and literacy

- official and institutional language attitudes, official status and policies including their use

- the attitudes of the members of the community towards their mother tongue

- the quantity and the quality of the documents

The most important among these factors is the intergenerational transmission of languages2.

The universal criteria identified by UNESCO are applied to Turkic languages as well, and a great number of Turkic languages are under the risk of extinction in various degrees.  However, although we do not have data obtained on-site, indicating the exact degree of the danger, we have to accept the existence of the danger for numerous Turkic communities, based, at least, on the studies conducted up to the present.

During the process of choosing a topic for the 4th International Turkish Research Symposium, which will start on 22 August 2011 and end on 26 May 2012, “The Lost Voices” was chosen as a starting point.  The symposium aims at analyzing the works carried out so far and at assembling the researchers in order to find out which Turkic languages are exposed to such a danger, the degree of the danger, and what can be done for the cultures for which the danger is at a level that can be prevented. Those cultures and languages for which nothing can be done can, at least, be registered.

In these academic meetings, the identification and registration of Endangered Turkic Languages and Cultures, documentation of their materials in terms of language and culture, and revival of their languages are determined as main topics of the symposium. Every researcher could join the meetings with individual or joint presentations in any field of the Turkic studies.

While the languages and cultures - which have represented the high values of humanity all throughout history, priceless knowledge and experience, and cultural heritage - are disappearing for ever at full speed due to the life style and monotony brought about by the modern world, we invite you to make a contribution to the 4th International Turkish Studies Symposium held by Hacettepe University Turkish Studies Institute, hoping that this symposium would at least be the means of transferring a few lines, few voices  before ‘the last voices’ of the Turkic communities whose languages are endangered ‘are heard.’

1 UNESCO’s Cultural Heritage which is not concrete - The Program of Endangered Languages


Hacettepe University Turkish Studies Institute
06532, Beytepe
Ankara, TURKEY

25.07.2011 tarihinden itibaren ziyaretçi sayısı: [ziyaretci sayisi]