Turkic languages form a comprehensive language family with about 200 million speakers. They are spoken across a wide geographical area stretching from the Balkans through Central Asia to northeast Siberia. As the official language of Turkey, Turkish is the largest modern Turkic language; it is also one of the most important immigrant languages in northwestern Europe today, with about three million speakers in Germany alone. There are around twenty standard Turkic languages with a considerable literary tradition, including Azeri, Turkmen, Tatar, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Uyghur and Yakut. The languages are documented from the 8th century on. The earliest sources were written with the runiform alphabet similar to Scandinavian runes. Later literary languages, such as Chagatay and Ottoman were written in the Arabic script. Since 1928, Turkish uses a Latin alphabet. Several other Turkic languages which were previously written with a Cyrillic based alphabet now use different Latin based ones.
First cycle studies aim to provide solid knowledge of mainly Turkish by studying grammar as well as modern and classical texts. The courses also include spoken and written exercises. More advanced seminars deal with Turkic language history, the history of the Turkic peoples, the history of Turkic literatures, and Turkic linguistics. Students are offered the possibility to attend introductory courses in other Turkic languages.
Studies in Turkic languages can also be carried out within the Bachelor’s Programme in Oriental Studies (in Swedish) or the Teacher Education Programme (in Swedish).
In second cycle studies, Turkic languages can be studied as part of the Master’s Programme in Languages (in Swedish).
Turkic studies in Uppsala
Uppsala University has a long tradition of research in Turkic languages. Several professors of Oriental languages have dedicated themselves to the study of Turkic languages. The university library owns a comprehensive collection of publications from the Ottoman cultural heritage. By order of the Swedish government, Uppsala University has a national responsibility for teaching and research in Turkish. The Department of Linguistics and Philology, which houses the subject of linguistics as well as a wide range of languages from the Middle East, Central Asia and the Far East, is an ideal place for academic studies in Turkic languages.
The first professorship in Turkic languages was founded in 2004. Today, two professors work within the subject. Practical language teaching is offered by native speakers. Research is carried out in international collaboration with Turcologists and linguists at many universities all over the world, with special emphasis on Turkey and China. Researchers, master’s students, trainees and doctoral students from partner universities visit Uppsala on a regular basis.
The Forum for Turkic Studies was established in 2014 to coordinate and integrate research and education within the field of Turkic studies. The forum is charged with the task of establishing an excellent environment at Uppsala University for research on the Turkic-speaking world with a special focus on Turkey and Central Asia. This is done in cross-disciplinary collaboration between researchers at the university and Swedish society.