nl en

Ottoman Turkish (Fall)


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Middle Eastern Studies or to the MA Middle Eastern Studies (research).
Proficient reading skills in modern Turkish (level B2 European Common Framework, i.e. having had approximately 80 EC = 2240 hrs of language training courses). Students who are interested in taking this course, but who are not admitted to one of the mentioned master programs and/or are not sure whether they meet the language requirement are requested to contact the convener Dr. H.P.A. Theunissen.

Intensive course on Thursday September 7 (10:15-12 AND 13:15-15 uur).
Exam on Tuesday September 12 (1st class).


The course aims at introducing the student to the principles of Ottoman Turkish and to texts written in this language. Ottoman Turkish as a written language was the direct predecessor of modern Turkish spoken today in Turkey and a large geography outside of Turkey that used to form a part of the Ottoman Empire. The word ‘Ottoman’ is derived from the name Osman, founder of the dynasty, which ruled the empire between c. 1300 and 1922. As all languages do, Ottoman Turkish underwent all kinds of changes during its 600 years of existence, and the grammatical forms and vocabulary of the older phases of the language eventually transformed or disappeared, and were replaced by more modern variants. Ottoman Turkish was written in the Arabo-Persian alphabet borrowed mainly from the Persian cultural sphere in the fourteenth century. This went together with the adoption of a great many loanwords from Arabic and Persian and incorporation of Arabic and Persian grammatical constructions into the language. From the nineteenth century onward, a policy of “language reform” started to gain ground that aimed to remove the non-Turkish grammar and loanwords from the language. Under the presidency of Atatürk, this process culminated whereby the old script was replaced in 1928 by the Latin alphabet.
The fundamental principles of Turkish grammar and syntax will be frequently reviewed. The students will also be introduced to the Arabic and Persian elements incorporated into Ottoman Turkish. Another important aspect of this beginner’s course is to familiarize the students with the use of Lexiqamus to solve problems encountered in the assigned texts. There will be weekly homework assignments throughout the course. In addition a student who takes the 10 EC course makes 5 (5x28 hour) extra individual assignments during the semester.

Course objectives

Students who have taken this course will:

  • be able to read not too complicated Ottoman-Turkish texts

  • to interpret them and

  • to put them into historical and cultural perspective;

  • have acquired the ability to use the relevant primary and secondary literature;

  • have acquired various skills including independent academic thinking and acting, analyzing complex issues; and be able to report academically sound;

  • be able to identify and formulate an original research question, to analyze primary and secondary sources, and to draw conclusions;

  • have the ability to gauge scholarly publications in the field critically;

  • be able to present the result of independent research in writing both for a general and professional public;

    • have learned to academically contribute to the field of research;
  • have knowledge and understanding of Ottoman history and culture.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

Assessment and weighing

Partial Assessment Weighing
Test Ottoman-Arabic script in week 1 10%
Completion of homework (transliteration and translation of texts as well as grammar exercises) and active participation and response during the reading of the material in class 50%
Final Take-Home Examination 40%

In case of 10 EC Course:

Partial Assessment Weighing
Course grade (see above) 50%
5 individual assignments (each of 28 hours) 50%

The final mark for this course is formed by the weighted average.

In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher.

The course is an integrated whole. All assessment parts must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.


Only if the total weighted average is insufficient (5.49 or lower), a resit of the individual assignments and the final take-home examination is possible (60% in total).

A resit of the other partial assessment is not possible.

Exam review

If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will be organized.

Reading list

Will be chosen in consultation with the teacher.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory. General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: De Vrieshof.


Please note that the additional course information is an integral part of this course description.

  • To assess the level of interested MA students, they are requested to contact the teacher, Dr. H.P.A. Theunissen well in advance.

  • Students can opt to take this course for either 5 or 10 EC.