Thousands rushed to Turkey's civil registry offices to change their first or last names after the government cut the red tape for amendments for once.
Since last December, more than 105,000 people have applied to the civil registry to get rid of their misspelled first or last names and names their ancestors thought would be appropriate, like Çakal (jackal).
Interior Ministry introduced the once-in-a-lifetime regulation in December 2017, allowing citizens to skip a lengthy court process to change their names. Ahead of a deadline at the end of 2019, 30,344 people applied to change their names and another 75,248 applied to change their last names.
Statistics show Rabiye and Ümüt were the top first names people sought to change. Rabiye is an apparent misspelling of Rabia, a woman's name and Ümüt is an incorrect form of Ümit, a man's name. Names stick with their holders when civil registry officials butcher their writing on IDs or when parents consider it is the correct spelling of the name. People with names like Hava, Sade, Sümeyya, Küpra, Firdes, Meyrem, Hadice, Mehriban and Buşra were also among top applicants. All those names are misspellings of popular woman's names. Similarly, men with names of Yunis, Memet, Abubekir, Serdal and Zekeriye applied in numbers to change their names.
As for last names, people with surnames like Koyun (sheep), Çakal (jackal), Deli (crazy), Satılmış (sold) and Uğuz (a butchered version of Oğuz, the ancient Turkic people) applied the most. Other odd last names include Çıplak (naked), Dana (calf), Kör (blind) and Ördek (duck).
Surnames are relatively new for Turkey, and until 1934 people would be referred to according to their social titles, like Hoca (teacher), Ağa (master), or their professions, like Demirci (blacksmith) or with reference to their hometown.A surname law implemented in 1934 allowed people to choose proper surnames. Most people chose last names glorifying their ancestry or how they saw themselves, like Türkoğlu (son of Turks) or Güçlü (strong). Others found it would be better to choose a surname like Koyun in praise of animals, unaware that it would make their descendants a laughing stock with the evolution of society in terms of understanding of words.