Sevda Arslan

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Emily Hauptmann

Second Advisor

Dr. Kristina Wirtz

Third Advisor

Dr. Mahendra Lawoti


Kurdish, Turkey, Linguicide, Policy, Political Parties

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


For many decades the Kurdish language was ignored and banned from public use and Turkish became the lingua franca for all citizens to speak. This way, the Turkish state sought to create a nation-state based on one language and attempted to eliminate the use of other languages, particularly Kurdish, through severe regulations and prohibitions.

Firstly, this thesis traces the language planning policies in the 20th century which resulted in the invisibilization and denial of Kurdish through an attempted linguicide. Through decade long oppressions which resulted in mass killings, arrests, re-location of Kurds, monopolization of education in Turkish and eventually the legal ban on Kurdish in print and media raise questions about the survival of the language in the long run.

Secondly, this thesis discusses the revitalization processes that have occurred in educational and political life since 2003 for the use of Kurdish. To some extent, the survival of Kurdish still remains in doubt, despite the re-introduction of Kurdish in schools and universities since 2010. In order to assess these recent developments, I compare the different roles and positions not only of the ruling government, but also of other political parties in promoting the use and dissemination of Kurdish as a second native language in Turkey.