Alp Kaan Aksu


My Name?

My full name is Alp Kaan Aksu.

It consists of 3 parts:

Germans usually assume that I have a compound surname (‘Kaan Aksu’), probably because I always write my full name including my second name. Usually, Germans only use their first name and leave out their middle names, this is probably the reason for this assumption.

What should I call you?

I used to tell everyone to call me ‘Alp Kaan’ when I was still in Turkey. It was how most people would call me most of the time. Sometimes they would just say ‘Alp’ because it is shorter.

After I moved to Germany, I started to introduce myself as ‘Alp’, because most people can pronounce that name very easily and intuitively. ‘Kaan’ seems more alien to them because of the aa in the middle.

I am fine with both ‘Alp’ and ‘Alp Kaan’, I don’t particularly like being called ‘Kaan’.


After the founding of the Turkish Republic, we had a huge language reform, where we tried to replace Arabic loanwords with words of Turkish origin. We either picked some old Turkish words that were not in use anymore, or we invented new ones (the agglutinative nature of Turkish helps). They also encouraged the use of Turkish names, instead of foreign ones. We also revived some old words as given names.

Alp is an example for those revived names. It means brave or hero, and it is written as 𐰞𐰯 (= PL) using the Old Turkic script. Old Turkic people used to pronounce it as /aɫp/ with a dark L /ɫ/ as in ‘pool’. But today, we say it with a clear L as in ‘leaf’, this is the way I pronounce my name in the voice recording above.


Kağan /kaːˈan/ was an imperial title used in Turkic and Mongolic languages, it was the title of the ruler of a khaganate. It is written as 𐰴𐰍𐰣 (NĞK) using the Old Turkic script. They used to pronounce the ‘soft G’ in the middle, but in modern Turkey, we pronounce the word with a long A. Ğ has no sound of its own.

Kağan is the standard version in writing but both Kağan and Kaan can be used as given names.


My surname has less historical weight. ‘Ak’ means white and ‘su’ means water. So Aksu literally means white water, or maybe clear water.