A Reuters story,”Turkey renames ‘foreign’ animals” (Fri Mar 4, 2005):

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey has renamed some animal species, saying foreign scientists opposed to its territorial integrity had chosen their former names with ill intent, the Environment Ministry has said.
A sheep species previously known as Ovis Armeniana was renamed Ovis Orientalis Anatolicus. A species of red fox was renamed as Vulpes Vulpes rather than Vulpes Vulpes Kurdistanica.
“Unfortunately there are many other species in Turkey which were named this way with ill intentions. This ill intent is so obvious that even species only found in our country were given names against Turkey’s unity,” the statement said.
The ministry said the animals’ new names had been chosen as result of scientific studies.

(Via Turkish Torque, “the first Turkish blog on the Internet by Ugur Akinci.”)


  1. Will they rename the turkey — presently called, as in many languages something like “dinde” = “bird of India”.
    (I’ve wondered for a long time whether D’Indy, the French composer, was nicknamed “dinde” in ninth grade. Somebody has to think about things like this.)
    Outside Native American languages, the turkey is almost always named after some foreign place: India, Calicut, Ethiopia, Peru, Turkey, Rome, etc. etc.

  2. Does Turkey not recognize the sovereignity of Armenia? That would be news to me. How does calling some animal “Armenian sheep” threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey which has not ruled Armenia for a long time (nearly a century IIRC)?

  3. I’m far from an expert, but as I understand it, Turkey is extremely paranoid about independent Kurdish and Armenian identities being held onto in the east of the country. And as for Armenia, Turkey flips out when anyone dares call the attempt to exterminate Armenians a genocide. They probably want to avoid any reminder that the historical center of Armenian culture is in present Turkey, not what is presently Armenia.

  4. Oy, politics + scientific names = trouble

  5. Everybody knows that Kurdish and Armenian are simply strange dialects of Turkish. I bet Latin is too, so who’s to argue with what Turkish scientists do with their own language? Actually, when you think about it, deep down all the world’s languages are Turkish.

  6. it’s an outrage.
    What about Greek? They don’t have any flora/fauna/minerals/&c with so called “Greek” names that need straightening out?
    Clear case of discrimination.

  7. about the names for the bird turkey:
    In Croatia it’s called tuka in the south and purica in the north of the country.
    In Serbian it’s called ?urka.
    Those names have nothing to do with foreign place names
    I have no idea as to the etymology. Would anyone have any ideas?

  8. >> the first letter of ‘?urka’ should be a ‘c’ with an acute accent on top of it.

  9. I’m surprised the Govt of Turkey could even do that. Any revision of a species name generally goes thru the scientific process, and the accepted name gains preference. If it’s a politically motivated change, then the new name may not even gain currency in the literature, and then you’ll have only the turkish scientists calling them by the new names.

  10. I have no idea as to the etymology. Would anyone have any ideas?
    I second the question. Also, in Bulgarian it’s tuika and in Slovene it’s puran. Anybody have access to South Slavic etymological dictionaries?

  11. Let’s marginalize our scientists for the sake of nationalism!

  12. To answer the question on “Turkish Torque”, yes, there is an international authority that regulates scientific names. For animals it is the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. I can find any reference to them in any of the stories on this, nor is there a mention on the ICZN’s website.

  13. Ingeborg S. Nordén says:

    Of all the petty, fanatical things people do to language in the name of nationalism…*grrr* Calling French fries “freedom fries” or sauerkraut “liberty cabbage” is silly enough, but tinkering with SCIENTIFIC names causes needless confusion outside any country that decides to do that.

  14. Going Dotty in Kansas says:

    Oh, boy, those Turkish taxonomists are going to have their hands really full when they go after plant names. How will they resolve the grape hyacinth problem — Muscari armeniaica, recognized as distinctly different from Muscari turkestanica? And will they give all the tulips names like Tulipa turkestancia var….anatolia? konyaica? We can hope that none of this foolish xenophobia will make it past the ICBN (International Code of Botanical Nomenclature), and that scientific rationalism will ultimately prevail — but in this world of “freedom fries”, I have my doubts. *grrrr* and double *grrrr*.

  15. Going Dotty in Kansas says:

    Actually, now that I’ve checked J.P. Smith, the ICBN rules clearly state that a name cannot be rejected merely because someone feels that it is inappropriate, becuase another might be considered better, or because the name has lost its original meaning. (Smith gives the example of Scilla peruviana — this specific epithet is acceptable although the plant doesn’t grow in Peru.) Also,for valid publication of a new plant name, the author(s) are required to prepare a new Latin (!!) description, or to provide references to previously published descriptions. (To this end, oral presentations, microfilm, or distribution of annotated specimens are not considered sufficient.) So I guess the hyper-nationalist Turkish taxonomists are going to have to find another way to legitimize their maladjustments. Perhaps they could enlist Rush Limbaugh to their cause.

  16. Yeah, as this site shows, making such a change international would not be at all easy. And if it’s just a national change, that defeats the purpose of binomial nominclature anyway!
    (in case that link doesn’t work, the URL is )

  17. I’m sure they are laughing about this all over Istiklal Caddesi in Istanbul right now. Turkey’s government – with predictable realism – has a history of appeasing it’s right wing Turko-Altaic-Turanian nationalists with oddball declarations like this, while the average Turk sees it for just that – tossing the nationalist (and therefore Sunni – but-non-(i.e. arabist)fundie-internationionalist)right wing a bone. I’m sure this plays well in Trabzon and Uzungol.
    Reminds me of my first competant converstion in Turkish, while staying at an observantly muslim Hemshin (muslim Armenian) guest house in Ayder, in the Kackar mountains on the Black sea. I met a devout young Turkish muslim mullah from Anatolia, and our conversation covered two streams. (We met on the smoking porch… Both of us had to smoke our cigarettes outside… you know how Hemshins are….) The conversation basically went:
    1) Elvis Presly was a Turk – since he was a US Soutrhern melundeon… according to a Turkish TV documentary…
    2) Armenia was never a Turkish enemy, and it is a shame what Turkey (as opposed to Turks) did to the Armenians of Anatolia.
    Talking to young modern Turks is a lot better than imagination.

  18. So the Catalan donkey might not really be Catalan after all?! This is all disturbing stuff

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