Impact of bilingualism and the difficulties of having minority-specific names in another dominant society: Turkish context for minority Kurdish society

Kasap S.

Journal of the International Council of Onomastic Sciences, vol.1, no.56, pp.167-186, 2021 (Scopus)


 This article is concerned with the issue of bilingualism and minority societies. Obviously, due to the vastness of the topic, not all the cases worldwide can be covered. Hence the study focused on the Turkish context. Namely, the study examined the Kurdish minority group in dominant Turkish society and the related aspects. In so doing, the paper is divided into two parts. The first part deals with what bilingualism is. As discussed in the paper, some people benefit from the use of more 168 SÜLEYMAN KASAP than one language when they communicate with the people with different ethnic or cultural backgrounds, yet the paper argues that the use of bilingualism also faces difficulties and assimilation in the countries where the hegemonic ideologies and cultures prohibit the use of more than one native language with fear of losing unity and native language. Secondly, the paper examines the difficulties Kurdish people face when they want to have Kurdish-specific names in a predominantly Turkish society. Hence the paper analyses the controversy over Kurdish naming in Turkey through a qualitative research design, in which semi-structured interviews with seven participants were used. The results show that the participants had to go through many hardships with their names written in Kurdish letters. Therefore, they have negatively been influenced nearly in almost all aspects of their lives because of having names that have got odd meanings or became meaningless at all in Turkish. Keywords: Bilingualism, minority society, Kurdish language, naming, Kurdish ethnicity