Over 50,000 people have learned the Turkish language abroad, through the Yunus Emre Institute. The institute was founded in 2009 and has a presence in 33 countries around the world. The institute teaches Turkish language courses to foreigners and also does an exposition of the Turkish culture. Most students who join the courses are from countries that are historically linked to Turkey. This is mostly in the Middle East and among Balkan countries, with Iran enrolling the highest number of students, followed by Egypt. The school offers on campus language classes as well as distance learning programs.
Turkish is the most widely spoken Turkic language. Over 63 million people are native Turkish speakers. A bulk of the speakers can be found in Turkey, where Turkish is the official language. Speakers can also be found in 35 other countries, including Germany, Denmark, Finland, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece, Serbia, US, Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, UK and Cyprus. Turkish belongs to the Oghuz group of languages. It is mutually intelligible with other languages that belong to the Oghuz group of languages. This includes Turkmen, Gagauz, Azerbaijani, Qashqai and Balkan Gagauz Turkish. Approximately 40 percent of all Turkic speakers are native speakers of Turkish. The largest linguistic group in Turkey are the Kurds. Most minority language speakers in Turkey are bilingual, as they can also speak Turkish fluently.
The Turkish Language Association was founded in 1932. It was mainly responsible for the ‘purification’ of the Turkish language. This was to be achieved by the replacement of all foreign words in the Turkish language, especially Arabic and Persian loan words. The Association banned the use of all loan words in newspapers. This led to the elimination of hundreds of loan words. The adoption of a new Turkish alphabet in 1928 and the Association are some of the factors that have largely shaped the modern Turkish language. Before 1928 Turkish was written using the Ottoman Turkish Script. In 1928 Mustafa Kemal Atatürk issued a decree replacing the Arabic script with the Latin script, which has been in use up to today. The basis of the modern day Turkish language is based on Istanbul Turkish.