Sorry, this got more confusing than I had expected! All my line breaks got eaten. Let me try that again:
Bakan = minister (in a government)
Başbakan = literally ‘chief minister’ = the Prime Minister
Başkan = chairman or President
Often you'll see the term “Cumhurbaşkanı” = President of the Republic.
Perhaps just as fascinating is that in this case, the concept behind the word (not the word itself) is borrowed from Arabic. In linguistics this is called a "calque." Think of it like the difference between a loan concept vs a loanword.
Although many loanwords (of all languages, Arabic but also French and others) were purged from Turkish as part of the language policy of the Ataturk era, many of these words "re-emerged" so to speak as calques rather than loanwords.
In Arabic, the word for president is "ra'is" (رئيس) and the word for "head" is "ras" (راس); so the Arabic word for "president" very clearly derives from the word for "head." Similarly in Turkish, the word for "president" prior to Ataturk was "reis," a direct borrowing from the Arabic word for president -- You can check out a link to the purged loanwords in the bottom of this post, where it shows the replacement of "reis" with "başkan."
So essentially, when "reis" was removed from the language, the word for "president' was then calqued into Turkish as "başkan," borrowing the etymological concept that the word had originally conveyed as an Arabic loanword in Turkish. Absolutely fascinating.
Hi Busyrocker. They sent me the question, although I'm probably the wrong Alex. But maybe I can try to answer. I think it’s like this: - bakan = minister (in a government) - başbakan = literally ‘chief minister’ = the Prime Minister - başkan = chairman or President Often you'll see the term “Cumhurbaşkanı” = President of the Republic.