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The State Department will begin spelling Turkey as Türkiye

Supporters wave flags and cheer as they listen to Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speak during the ruling AKP party's rally on Nov. 27, 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey.
Burak Kara
/
Getty Images
Supporters wave flags and cheer as they listen to Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speak during the ruling AKP party's rally on Nov. 27, 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey.

The State Department will start spelling Turkey as "Türkiye" in diplomatic and formal settings.

The name change was approved by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names following a request from the Turkish embassy, State Department spokesperson Ned Price confirmed on Thursday.

The State Department, which handles America's foreign policy, is the latest federal agency to adopt the spelling change.

Price said it will take some time for the department's website and communications to reflect the new spelling. The Board on Geographic Names also gave the department the option to continue to use "Turkey" and "Republic of Turkey" when appropriate. For instance, the previous spelling is allowed in cartographic products because it is more widely understood by the American public.

The name change also comes six months after the United Nations agreed to recognize Türkiye in June.

The current State Department pronunciation will remain unchanged, according to The Associated Press, which first reported the change.

The name change is not only symbolic but a rebranding effort

Turkish people have called their country Türkiye since 1923 when the Ottomon Empire fell and the Turkish Republic was formed.

In 2021, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pushed for the name by launching a global rebranding campaign. He asked the rest of the world to embrace his country's original name, not the anglicized version.

"Türkiye is the best representation and expression of the Turkish people's culture, civilization and values," he said at the time.

Erdogan's government hopes the rebranding efforts will enhance the country's reputation as an international destination and in turn, bolster its economy.

Some supporters say they wish to dissociate the country's name from the bird — which is largely known in the U.S. for being a popular dish on Thanksgiving as well as being a slang for something that does not work or is foolish.

But others are skeptical of the rebranding, arguing that it is simply a ploy to distract people from the country's long list of problems.

"Turkey is crumbling under possibly the biggest financial crisis since the Second World War. Our two neighbors are at war with each other. There is world food security crisis. And this is the moment we decide to change the country's name?" Turkish foreign policy analyst Yoruk Isik told NPR back in June.

NPR's Peter Kenyon contributed reporting.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Juliana Kim
Juliana Kim is a weekend reporter for Digital News, where she adds context to the news of the day and brings her enterprise skills to NPR's signature journalism.
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