Q, W, and Turkish law

Reuters is reporting that a Turkish court has fined 20 people some US$75 each for using the letters Q and W on placards. The signs, displayed last year at a Kurdish new year celebration, were written in Kurdish.

The 1928 Law on the Adoption and Application of Turkish Letters changed the Turkish alphabet from the Arabic script to a modified Latin script and required all signs, advertising, newspapers and official documents to only use Turkish letters.

Kurdish, when written in the Roman alphabet, makes use of several letters not found in the Turkish alphabet, including Q, W, and X.

A ban on Q and X here in Taiwan might go over well with some ideologues. Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs already prevents people from using Hanyu Pinyin (which, unlike Wade-Giles and the locally developed Tongyong Pinyin, uses those two letters) on their passports, even though that’s the system the president of the country uses for the romanized version of his own name!

source: 20 fined for using letters W and Q, Reuters, October 25, 2005.

8 thoughts on “Q, W, and Turkish law

  1. For at least the past five years Taiwan’s passport office has had on hand romanization guidelines in bastardized Wade-Giles. Earlier sheets gave bastardized Wade-Giles (which, I must stress, is wrong, wrong, wrong) and MPS2. Newer sheets give bastardized Wade-Giles and Tongyong Pinyin.

    In practice, however, a variety of systems (and misspellings) are allowed — as long as it “doesn’t look too funny” or doesn’t have clear signs of Hanyu Pinyin (x, q, zh). I know this because I’ve spoken with the people in the passport office more than once about this issue. And I’ve pointed out repeatedly, but to no avail, that their Wade-Giles charts are wrong. The policy there, such as it is, is chabuduo jiu keyi. And, anyway, the people in that office don’t really know any of the romanization systems well. (But they’re nice people.) So I have no doubt that “Chen Shui-bian” would have gone through without a hitch; and at any rate that is most definitely the official spelling of his name. (Take it from me; I worked for the government for years.)

    In the case of your passport, You Yun-bin should most certainly have been allowed, as it is the correct romanization in Tongyong Pinyin and MPS2, as well as Hanyu Pinyin. Note that “Yu Yun-pin” is incorrect Wade-Giles; in the Wade-Giles system, it should be written “Yu Yün-pin” — not that that would make much difference in terms of how people mispronounce it. You should be able to get the spelling corrected if it’s important to you.

  2. Thanks for the clarification. We did ask if we could have any say on the romanization, but the person we spoke to said “Nope. Wade-Giles only.” No mention of the possibility of others (we explicitly asked about Hanyu Pinyin) or bastardisation – but of course one adminsitrators opinion is not necessarily policy …

    It isn’t a big deal for us: He’s got an English name in English, and a Chinese name in Chinese, so no need to use his romanized name (and definitely no need to use his passport romanized name!).

  3. There is no country like kurdish…

    Turkey’s language is only Turkish. All of countries choose
    their alphabets and use them.

    You’re right, we are not using only W, Q, X
    But we are using lot of special chars instead of them.
    For example: Ç (ch) , ? (sh), W (vi), Q (ku), X (ks)

    Best regars from Turkey.
    http://www.hukuki.net (Turkish Law Site)

  4. I’m obviously not familiar with kurdish law. What is the basis behind the use: illegally’, of the foresaid letters. Are these letters of foreign alphabet connected somehow with some sort of discrace or do these letters mean something in there own term used singularly? What does it mean when I use W, X, Z.

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