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Kâşgarlı MahmutKâşgarlı Mahmut

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced 2008 as "The Kâşgarlı Mahmut Year" in Turkey.

Linguist, lexicographer, ethnographer and the first Turkish cartographer of Turkic dialects, Kâşgarlı Mahmut was among the prominent names of Turkish cultural history. Kâşgarlı Mahmut –whose full name is Mahmut bin Hüseyin bin Muhammet (also transcripted as Mahmud al-Kashgari)- was born in Kâşgar, East Turkestan, which is within the borders of present day China. Actually, there is no substantial information on the dates of his birth and death. Many of the researchers claim that he was born in 1008, but there are various claims regarding the date of his birth saying that he died in 1075, 1090, or 1105.

Mahmut’s most famous work is the first Turkish encyclopedic dictionary entitled "Divân-ü Lügâti't-Türk." The work was compiled in 1074, and presented to Abbasid Caliph El-Muktedi Billâh in Baghdad. The fate of the original handwritten copy is not known but in 1226, a person called Muhammet made a copy of Mahmut’s work in Iranian village of Save. This very same copy was coincidentally found at a book shop in İstanbul in 1910 and was placed under protection. In his book, Mahmut tried to prove the richness of Turkish language and its value besides Arabic and Persian.

Kâşgarlı Mahmut also gave detailed information in his work on Turkish proverbs, idioms, ballads and specially rhymed Turkish poems (quatrains) known as "mani" which may be compared to the Japanese "haiku" both semantically and in form.

Given the fact that Divân-ü Lügâti't-Türk was a book telling of Turkish heroism, nobility, and the discoveries handed down to the future generations, we can say Mahmut by bequeathing this work to us laid the foundations of modern Turcology.

With the celebration of the 1000th anniversary of the birth of Kâşgarlı Mahmut, UNESCO, aims to encourage further research on Kâşgarlı Mahmut’s significance and major contribution to Turkish culture and language.

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