Change.org petition launched to change name of turkey bird to Turkiye

The name would be in line with the changing of the name of the country Turkey to Turkiye, done to disassociate itself from the bird in question.

 Norfolk black turkeys hatched in June and raised free range for Christmas are seen ready for market on David McEvoy's Turkey farm in Termonfeckin, Ireland, November 26, 2017 (photo credit: REUTERS/CLODAGH KILCOYNE)
Norfolk black turkeys hatched in June and raised free range for Christmas are seen ready for market on David McEvoy's Turkey farm in Termonfeckin, Ireland, November 26, 2017
(photo credit: REUTERS/CLODAGH KILCOYNE)

A change.org petition was launched to change the name of the bird known as a turkey to turkiye, poking fun at the recent name change used by the nation Turkey.

The Turkish name change from Turkey to Turkiye, approved last week by the United Nations, was motivated by a number of different reasons.

For one thing, the name now reflects the Turkish language pronunciation of the name of their country and has also been used to distance itself from the bird turkey, a type of poultry.

This name change itself is not without precedence. After all, Turkey had in the past fought a diplomatic battle with the rest of the world to change the name of Constantinople to Istanbul, which Turks had been calling it for many years at that point. A similar case also arose with Iran and Czechia, both of which petitioned and eventually succeded in changing the names of their countries from Persia and the Czech Republic, respectively.

But naturally, the Internet couldn't resist poking fun at a geopolitical decision.

Turkish flag flutters at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, (credit: REUTERS/FRANCOIS LENOIR)Turkish flag flutters at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, (credit: REUTERS/FRANCOIS LENOIR)
The petition: Origins

The change.org petition started off based on a comment posted on the subreddit r/YUROP, a meme subreddit related to Europe. 

In the thread related to the name change, several Redditors commented about the change of names and how in several languages, name changes don't always catch on.

"In Spain, we will still use the old name (Turquía)," one Redditor commented. "The new one is harder to pronounce and not worth the hassle for most people. Same with Myanmar (we call it [Birmania]), and even... Germany (we 'still' call it Alemania)."

"In Greece, we still call France Gallia and England Anglia," another Redditor wrote.

Another commenter stated that the decision is "nobody's business but the Turks'," a reference to the 1953 Four Lads' song "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)," later famously covered by They Might Be Giants in 1990, which commemorated the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire.

Following the subreddit posts, however, one Redditor decided to go to change.org and make a petition to change the name of the bird turkey to Turkiye, matching the change of the nation of Turkey to Turkiye, which was done at least in part to disassociate itself from the bird in the first place.

The petition itself lasted just three days and obtained just shy of 1,000 supporters before the person who started it decided to close it on Monday.

"Gandhi once said: 'Be the change you wish to see in the world.' All of you have stood up for what is just, right, good and tasty. Let me thank you for that," he wrote on the petition's page.

Despite having achieved nearly 1,000 signatures, he decided to end it "because I still want to get served at my local kebab restaurant."

He clarified though that this was meant to be a joke and nothing that would spark actual outrage or incitement.

"Let me reiterate here that I have nothing but sympathy for the Turks as a people. These jokes are funny and all but must not give cover to racism or xenophobia," he said. "Let us stay committed to democracy and united in diversity."

Fun fact

The bird known as the turkey has some interesting history behind its name, and that is reflected in its name in many different languages. 

The confusion surrounding the name of the bird "turkey" which was found in the New World as it relates to the Turkish people was due to its similarities to guineafowl, which were imported via the Ottoman Empire at the time European colonizers discovered the Americas.

The New World origin also related to the bird turkey being linked in other languages to India, possibly due to the belief that early European explorer Christopher Columbus went to India and not the New World. 

Indeed, the name of the turkey bird relates to India in multiple languages such as French, Hebrew, Russian and – interestingly enough – Turkish.

Another interesting thing to note: In Portuguese, the word for Turkey is "Peru," spelled the same as the country "Peru."

Reports on the Peruvian government petitioning the UN for a new name have not surfaced at this time.