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As an occasional learner of these languages, I find the linguistic situation of Arabic, Persian and Turkish very interesting: they are three genetically unrelated languages (if you stick to unquestioned families, they are Semitic, Indo-European and Turkic, respectively) with quite different grammatical structures but, due to a complex history, there are subject to massive mutual lexical borrowing).

The speakers' attitude towards this situation has changed a lot through history. As far as I can tell (mostly through interaction with my teachers), this remains today a burning issue in Iran and Turkey (at least much more burning than, say, the Romance borrowings in English).

My question is: do you know good reference work about this situation? I'm interested in both the purely linguistic side (a good description of the situation, serious etymological dictionaries and so on) and the sociolinguistical side.

  • This is an very interesting topic, but doesn't this boil down to a book recommendation question? Do you guys do those on this site? – Caleb Oct 17 '12 at 6:13
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    @Caleb It's okay to ask what the most up-to-date research on topic X is - but the answer should include a summary of the situation, not just a link to a reference work. – Mark Beadles Oct 17 '12 at 12:07
  • you are right . these three unrelated languages , share tens or thousands words just for historical reasons. i haven't any source about it but myself speak Farsi and Turkish Azerbaijani dialect as a native and can speak Turkey turkish as a second language. also we are taught Arabic in high schools. so i can recognize the Arabic rooted words in the both Farsi and Turkish , Farsi rooted words in Arabic and Tukish , and Turkish rooted words in Farsi . (I'm not sure about Turkish words in Arabic!). by the way , I'm an alive source about the topic! have good time! – user5051 Aug 20 '14 at 20:53
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There are tons of diachronical researches on Turkish, Arabic language and Persian language but great amount of those works are owned by literally prescriptivists and written in Turkish.

Keywords: Arapça, Farsça


If you do not mind if it is Turkish or not:

This is the library of TDK (Turkish Language Foundation). Unfortunately there is no single electronic documents but you can search keywords in catalogue.

There is also National Thesis Center for searching any thesis. If you are abroad, there is no ability of downloading since registering is allowed for university members (including students) in Turkey, but you can take names and mail them to share their works with you. Coming to search, there is a search bar in the site below, you can use keywords to see the thesis on diachronic researches on it. (National Thesis Center also provides English site prefence for foreingners.)

This is a catalogue for original manuscript by TDK.

Do not forget all those resources are written in Turkish.


If you want to look for an English resource, those are so rare but have a possibility of being much descriptive.

For instance, this work seems to be a research on phonological structure of Arabic loanwords in Turkish. (Not free.)

This is a page from Wikipedia.

This work seems much more sociological, but it is worth to be seen. (Not free.)

This is about Persian-Turkish relation. (Not free.)

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Nişanyan’s Turkish etymological dictionary is available on line: https://www.nisanyansozluk.com/. It is an excellent resource which clearly identifies the Arabic, Persian and other loanwords in modern Turkish. If you want to pursue the borrowings in the opposite direction (Turkish to Persian) there is “Türkische und mongolische Elemente im Neupersischen : unter besonderer Berücksichtigung älterer neupersischer Geschichtsquellen, vor allem der Mongolen- und Timuridenzeit“, in four thick volumes, by Gerhard Dörfer.

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Geoffrey Lewis's book Turkish Language Reform: A Catastrophic Success is an excellent resource about the Turkish language reform which aimed to "purify" the Turkish language by replacing borrowings from Arabic (and, to a lesser extent, from other languages) with supposed "pure Turkish" words. As the title says, it did succeed to a great extent, but not without consequences.

It's not a linguistic book per se, but it provides valuable background and historical perspective on the attitude of different groups of people towards Arabic borrowings in Turkish and their replacements. One can build a very good understanding of the sociolinguistic aspects of the phenomenon on it.

On a personal note, I just want to add that as a native Turkish speaker and a linguistics enthusiast, it's one of my favorite books of all time.

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