12 April 2006

Anatolian toponymy 1: Nevşehir

Note: To properly view the Turkish characters, set the encoding of your browser to Unicode, UTF-8. If you are using another browser, read the comments to this post.

Nevşehir is a city in central Turkey. Its original name was Neapoli, "new city" in Greek. However, by the mid-19th century (if not earlier) the town was known by its "Turkish" name Nevşehir, which is actually Persian for "new city". The picture below is a detail from John Arrowsmith's 1844 map of Turkey (downloaded from the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection). The name of the town (arrow) is given as Neb Shehr (the Turkish letter "ş" has the sound of "sh").


Before the 1924 population exchange between Turkey and Greece that followed the Turkish-Greek War of 1919-1922, Nevşehir boasted a large Greek population. The Greeks of Nevşehir spoke Karamanlıca, a dialect of Turkish, and wrote it using Greek characters. The postcard below, probably from the early 20th century, spells Nevşehir with Greek characters. The phrase in parentheses transliterates as "kısm-ı-sani", which is in Ottoman Turkish (actually Arabic), meaning “upper part”.


A conversion table giving the Turkish equivalents of the Greek characters of Karamanlıca is available here.

Many thanks to Yorgi Sangiouloglou for the postcard.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm also from an area where there were "population exchanges" in the past: on the moving border between Italy and Slovenia (former Yugoslavia, former Austrian empire). After WW1 german speaking people had to leave, after WW2 italian speaking people had to.
Some nationalists and politicians of both involved countries find this right and great.

It is nice and reassuring to find out that there are people like you, who recognize such exodus are only a big lost.