As a native speaker of Turkish and for a professional “language” app as Memrise itself, this misclassification caught my attention.
Languages are older than artificial boundaries or regions, thus as known, geography is not a decent way to classify them. By this logic, Turkish could be considered any of those below:
-and any region that Turks reigned for decades, spread out in terms of culture & language throughout the history. Though it roughly mirrors the spread of Islam and draws vocabulary from Persian and Arabic, same applies for Latin as well, which is reasonable for any wide-spread nation with history.
For instance, in the 20th century, some Perso-Arabic vocabulary has been replaced with the Graeco-Latin roots of Europe – so while Arabic and Persian have “siyasa” for ‘politics’, in Turkish both “siyaset” and “politika” exist and both are commonly used, yet ones with the latin origin are even more common amongst young population or people with higher education.
Not to mention the well-known fact that Turkish has its own language group ‘Turkic/Altaic Languages’, which explains why Turkish language grammatically has nothing to do with any Middle Eastern language. And we know that grammar is the cornerstone of a language since it’s more stable and solid compared to vocab.
As for an instance of the similarity between Turkic languages:
Yeni yılınız kutlu olsun. TR
Yeni iliniz mubarek olsun. AZ
Janga jılıngız kuttı bolsın. KZK
Canga cılıngız kuttu bolsun. KRG
Yengi yılıngız mubarek bolsun. UZ
Teze (this is Taze in TR) yılınızı gutlayaarın (kutlarım in TR). TRM
Yengi yılıngızga mubarek bolsun. UYG
Canga cılıngız kuttı bolsin. KRPK
Yanga/Yana yilingiz kutlı bolsın. NGY
This verbal/grammatic similarity goes beyond any vocabulary drawn due to religious purposes. It even provides a slight comprehension to each of its speakers without knowing the other language.
However if it’s still supposed to included into a regional group, East/Central Asian or even Asian is a better term. Because that’s where the language and its structure are rooted from. (aka: agglutinative languages) And still shows sprachbund effects of East Asia due to thousands of years of interactions. “tear (of eye)” in Chinese, Korean and all Turkic languages literally mean “water of eye”, for instance. In addition, Korean, Japanese and Turkic languages have two words for heart: one is abstract and used to refer to your emotions and the other one is the organ itself, etc etc…
Turkish has neither Balkan nor Middle Eastern sprachbund effects (the latter does not even exist).
In short, using geography as a classifier is oversimplifying, which deep down makes it even more confusing. And I hope that’ll be fixed soon because it is quite a misclassification for a language learning app.