Beginning late nineteenth century Ottoman-Turkish intellectuals fought for an orthographic revolution to change the spelling of the name Türk—which was once used to refer to the “simple folk” or Muslims generally and was written as ‮ترك‬‎ (t-r-k) in Arabic letters—by adding the letter ‘wāw’ (‮و‬‎) to it, spelling the name as ‮تورك‬‎ (t-u-r-k) in print. The additional letter was a necessity in the minds of the revolutionaries to make visible the Turkish nation as opposed to the multitude. The paper interprets these intellectuals’ thoughts and assumptions on scripts, writing and language as they relate to politics and identity and as part of the history of Ottoman-Turkish literary modernity, which would culminate in the adoption of Roman letters in the modern Turkish Republic.

In: Intellectual History of the Islamicate World