Cleanser of the Turkish Language

Hagop Martaryan, born May 22, 1895, was a specialist in the Turkish languages and thus called upon by Ataturk to help cleanse it of Persian and Arabic influences. He was appointed to the First Turkish Language Convention and his surname changed to Dilicar, literally meaning “language opener”. He was known as Agop Dilicar, or A Dilicar after his death when his Armenian origins were concealed from the public.

Hagop Martayan, a philologist and an expert in the science of encyclopedia, was born in Istanbul in 1895. A graduate of the American Robert College, he dedicated his entire life to the study of languages and was an expert in the Turkish language. He studied the etymology of Turkish words, meticulously tracing their origins since their earliest recorded coinage, their transmissions from one language to another, analyzing the words into their component parts, identifying their cognates in other languages, and tracing them to a common ancestral root.

Later, Mr. Martayan became an instructor and an administrator at the Robert College. He participated in World War I as a reserve officer. Then he lived in Europe for a while. In 1932, Ataturk was impassioned with a project to give back the Turkish language its true identity, and clear it from the shadow of Ottoman Turkish. He was aware of the expressive power of Turkish and he had a burning desire to liberate it from the shackles of Arabic and Persian influence. He himself an admirer and a master in using the Turkish, when learned about Hagop Martayan, who was at that time in Bulgaria, invited him to Turkey, and he became impressed with the knowledge and expertise of Mr. Martayan. He appointed him to the First Turkish Language Convention (Türk Dil Kurultayi). Around that time, a law making the surnames mandatory was at the legislature. Ataturk suggested that Mr. Martayan take the last name DILACAR, meaning “tongue opener”, which Martayan graciously accepted.

After the Turkish Language Convention, Mr. Dilacar became the Head Expert in the Turkish Language Association (Türk Dil Kurumu). Later, he taught languages at the universities and high schools. Starting in 1936, he taught for fifteen years The History of Linguistics, and General Linguistics at the Philology Department of the Language, History & Geography Department (Dil,Tarih & Cografya Fakultesi) of the University of Ankara. He was the advisor to the Turkish Encyclopedia, and later he became its chief editor. Mr. Dilacar passed away on September 12, 1979 in Istanbul.
Hagop Martayan Dilacar contributed enormously to the enrichment of the Turkish language and culture. He worked tirelessly to elevate and refine the Turkish.


Ayhan Ozer, From….. THE TURKISH TIMES January 15, 1996

Agop Martayan Dilaçar (May 22, 1895 – September 12, 1979) was an Armenian-Turkish linguist who specialized in Turkic languages and the first Secretary General and head specialist of the Turkish Language Association.

Agop Dilaçar was born in İstanbul, as Agop Martayan, in 1895. He graduated from the Robert College in 1915. In addition to Armenian and Turkish, he knew English, Greek, Spanish, Latin, German, Russian and Bulgarian. He worked as a lecturer of the English language at the Robert College, and of Ottoman Turkish and ancient East languages at Sofia University in Sofia, Bulgaria.

He was invited on September 22, 1932, as a linguistics specialist to the First Turkish Language Congress held in Dolmabahçe Palace supervised by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first president of the Republic of Turkey, together with two other linguists of Armenian ethnicity, İstepan Gurdikyan and Kevork Simkeşyan. He continued his work and research on the Turkish language as the head specialist and Secretary General of the newly founded Turkish Language Association in Ankara. Following the issue of the Law on Family Names in 1934, Atatürk suggested him the surname Dilaçar (literally meaning language opener), which he gladly accepted.

He taught history and language at Ankara University between 1936 and 1951. He also was the head advisor of the Türk Ansiklopedisi (Turkish Encyclopedia), between 1942 and 1960. He held his position and continued his research in linguistics at the Turkish Language Association until his death in 1979.

* Les bases Bio-Psychologiques de la Theorie Güneş Dil (1936)
* Azeri Türkçesi (Azerbaijani Turkish, 1950)
* Batı Türkçesi (Western Turkish, 1953)
* Lehçelerin Yazılma Tarzı (Writing Style of Dialects)
* Türk Dil ve Lehçelerinin Tasnifi Meselesi (Classification Issue of the Turkish Languages and Dialects, 1954)
* Devlet Dili Olarak Türkçe (Turkish as a State Language, 1962)
* Wilhelm Thomsen ve Orhon Yazıtlarının Çözülüşü (Wilhelm Thomson and Encoding of the Orkhon Inscriptions, 1963)
* Türk Diline Genel Bir Bakış (A General Look at the Turkish Language, 1964)
* Türkiye’de Dil Özleşmesi (Language Purification in Turkey, 1965)
* Dil, Diller ve Dilcilik (Language, Languages and Linguistics, 1968)
* Kutadgu Bilig İncelemesi (Research of the Kutadgu Bilig, 1972)
* Anadili İlkeleri ve Türkiye Dışındaki Uygulamalar (Native Language Principles and Applications Outside Turkey, 1978)

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