Geoffrey Lewis (scholar)

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Geoffrey Lewis Lewis CMG FBA (19 June 1920 – 12 February 2008) was an English Professor of the Turkish language at the University of Oxford. He was well known as the author of Teach Yourself Turkish and academic books about Turkish and Turkey.

Early life and education

Lewis was born in London, England in 1920 and educated at University College School and St John's College, Oxford (MA 1945, DPhil 1950; James Mew Arabic Scholar, 1947).

At St John's College Lewis initially studied classics. With the outbreak of the Second World War, he served from 1940 to 1945 as a radar operator in the Royal Air Force. Posted primarily in Libya and Egypt, he returned to Oxford afterwards and switched his studies to Arabic and Persian.

He initially studied Turkish as a hobby: Turkish was not taught at Oxford before Lewis was appointed to his academic post.




  • Teach Yourself Turkish, 1953, 2nd edition 1989
  • Modern Turkey, 1955, 4th edition 1974
  • (trans., with annotations) Katib Chelebi, The Balance of Truth, 1957
  • Plotiniana Arabica, 1959
  • (with Barbara Hodge) A Study in Education for International Misunderstanding (Cyprus School History Textbooks), 1966
  • Turkish Grammar, 1967, Second edition 2000. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-870036-9.
  • (with M. S. Spink) Albucasis on Surgery and Instruments, 1973
  • The Book of Dede Korkut, 1974
  • The Atatürk I Knew, 1981
  • Thickhead and other Turkish Stories, 1988
  • Just a Diplomat, 1992
  • The Turkish Language Reform: A Catastrophic Success. 1999 Oxford: Oxford University Press

Lewis' Teach Yourself Turkish (last edition 1994) has been the de facto standard text for students of Turkish for many years. The same for Lewis' Turkish Grammar. The recent (2006,2009,2015) editions of Oztopcu's Elementary Turkish are more contemporary and lesson-oriented, but Lewis still commands wide appeal.