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Turkish 

Turkish
Hoşgeldiniz- Welcome

Turkish (Türkçe), the westernmost of the Turkic languages, belongs to the Turkic branch of the Altaic language family. It has the largest number of speakers of all Turkic languages.There is a significant degree of mutual intelligibility between Turkish and other Oghuz languages such as Azerbaijani,Turkmen, and Qashqai.

Status

Turkish is the official language of Turkey where it is spoken by 67 million people as a first and by another 350,000 people as a second language (Ethnologue).  It is also the official language of Cyprus along with Greek. The rest of the Turkish speakers live in 35 different countries in Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Americas (Ethnologue). Most of these countries were part of the territory formerly governed by the Ottoman Empire. The worldwide population of speakers of Turkish is variously estimated at up to 71 million people( Ethnologue).

 

Dialects

Turkish has a number of dialects. Ethnologue lists Danubian, Dinler, Edirne, Eskisehir, Gaziantep, Karamanli, Razgrad, Rumelian, Urfa. Modern Standard Turkish is based on the variety spoken in Istanbul, the country’s largest city.

Structure

Sound system

Turkish has 28 phonemes, i.e., sounds that make a difference in word meaning. The sound system of the language is characterized by vowel harmony, a type of phonological process that dictates which vowels may be found near each other in a word. There are two kinds of vowels — front vowels produced at the front of the mouth, e.g., /i/, /e/, and back vowels, produced at the back of the mouth, e.g., /a/, /u/, /o/. Native Turkic words can contain either only all front or all back vowels, and all suffixes must conform to the vowel of the syllable preceding them in the word. For example, a vowel at the beginning of a word causes assimilation of the rest of the vowels in that word, e.g., in Turkish, ev– ‘house + -ler ‘plural’ is evler ‘houses’, çocuk– ‘child’ + –ler ‘plural’ is çocuklar ‘children’. In the first example, all vowels in evler are front vowels. In the second example, all vowels in çocuklar are back vowels.

Vowels
Turkish has eight vowel phonemes. There is a contrast between unrounded and rounded front and back vowels. Rounded vowels are produced with rounded protruding lips.

Central
Close
i
y
ɨ
u
Close-mid
e
ø
o
Open
a
  • /y/ = second vowel in statue
  • /ø/ has no equivalent in English

 

Consonants
Turkish has 20 consonant phonemes. There are no consonant clusters at the beginning of words. Stopsfricatives, and affricates are devoiced in final position, e.g., kitabi ‘book’ (in the accusative case), but kitap ‘book’ (in the nominative case).

Stops voiceless
p
t
c
k
voiced
b
d
ɟ
g
Fricatives voiceless
f
s
ʃ
h
voiced
v
z
ʒ
Affricates voiceless
voiced
Nasals
m
n
Tap
ɾ
Lateral
l
Approximant z z z z
j
z z
  • /ʃ/ = sh in shop
  • /ʒ/ = s in vision
  • /c, ɟ/ have no equivalents in English
  • /j/ = y in yet

 

Stress
Stress in Turkish words is normally placed on the final syllable.

Grammar

Like all Turkic languages, Turkish is agglutinative, i.e., grammatical relations are indicated by the addition of suffixes to stems. There are no prefixes. There is a one-to-one relationship between suffix and meaning, so suffixes are strung together one after another, resulting on occasion in long words. There are various rules for their ordering. Turkish uses postpositions rather than prepositions to indicate some grammatical relationships.

Noun phrase

  • Turkish nouns are marked for number (singular and plural).
  • There is no expressed grammatical gender: the pronoun o means ‘he’, ‘she’, or ‘it’.
  • There are six cases: nominativegenitivedativeaccusativelocativeablative. Cases are marked by inflectional suffixes.They are governed by verbs and postpositions.
  • There are no articles.

 

Verb phrase
Verbs agree with their subjects in person and number. They have the following grammatical categories:

  • two numbers: singular and plural;
  • three persons: 1st, 2, 3rd;
  • five moods: indicativedubitativeimperativeconditionalsubjunctive;
  • two voices: active and passive with different forms for passive transitive and passive intransitive verbs;
  • three tenses: present, past, future;
  • evidentiality that is always required and which indicates whether evidence exists for a given statement. Turkish contrasts direct information (reported directly) and indirect information (reported indirectly).
  • interrogative and negative forms; below is an example showing how the 1st person singular ending attaches itself to the verb etmek ‘do’ in statements and migrates to the negative in negations (ben means ‘I’):

 

Ben ediyorum I do.
Bediyor musum Do I?
Ben etmiyorum I do not.
Ben etmiyor muyum Do I not?

 

Word order
Word order inTurkish sentences is normally Subject-Object-Verb. However, other orders are possible, depending on discourse-oriented considerations such as emphasis.

Vocabulary

Language and language reform are hot political issues in Turkey. There is a struggle between supporters of a native Turkish lexicon and those who  support the use of a modern vocabulary with a large number of western European loanwords. Religious publications continue to use a variety of Turkish that is influenced by Arabic and Persian. The resurgence of Islam in recent years has resulted in many Islamic words becoming part of modern spoken Turkish.The language has also borrowed extensively from Arabic and Persian, and more recently from western European languages.

Below are some common words and phrases in Turkish.

Hello Merhaba
Good bye Hoşça kalın
Thank you Teşekkür ederim
Please Lütfen
Excuse me Affedersiniz
Yes Evet
No Hayir
Man Adam
Woman Kadın

 

Below are Turkish numerals 1-10.

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
bir
iki
üç
dört
beş
altı
yedi
sekiz
dokuz
on

 

Writing

Turkish is written with an adapted version of the Roman alphabet adopted in 1928 as part of Atatürk’s effort to europeanize Turkey. Before that, Turkish was written with the Arabic script that was adopted in the 15th century. Prior to the 15th century, Turkish was written with the Uyghur script. Mustafa Kemal, who was later given the name of Atatürk ‘Father of the Turks’ was responsible for a wide range of reforms that helped to modernize Turkey, including replacement of the Arabic script with the Roman one, and purging the language of Arabic andTurkey map Persian words.

The modern Turkish alphabet has 29 letters. The following letters were adapted to represent Turkish sounds: ÇĞI, İÖŞ, and Ü. The alphabet is given below.

A a
B b
C c
Ç ç
D d
E e
F f
G g
Ğ ğ
H h
L l
ı
İ i
J j
K k
L l
M m
N n
O o
Ö ö
P p
R r
S s
Ş ş
T t
U u
Ü ü
V v
Y y
Z z

 

 

Take a look at Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Turkish.

Madde 1
 Bütün insanlar hür, haysiyet ve haklar bakımından eşit doğarlar. Akıl ve vicdana sahiptirler ve birbirlerine karşı kardeşlik zihniyeti ile hareket etmelidirler
Article 1
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

 

Did You Know?


English has borrowed a number of words from Turkish, mostly by way of other languages. Among them are the following:

baklava baklava
Balkan balkan ‘mountain chain’
bulgur bulgur ‘pounded wheat’
caftan qaftan ‘long tunic’
cossack quzzak ‘adventurer, guerilla, nomad,’ from qaz ‘to wander’
divan divan
horde ordu ‘camp, army’
oda oda ‘room’
(shish)kebab şişkebap, from  şiş ‘skewer’ + kebap ‘roast meat’
turban tülbent ‘gauze, muslin, tulle’
yogurt yogurt

Difficulty

Language Difficulty
questionHow difficult is it to learn Turkish?
Turkish is considered to be a Category II language in terms of difficulty for speakers of English.

11 Responses to Turkish

  1. Colonel Hakî

    Actually, Modern Standard Turkish is based on the variety spoken in Turkey’s ex-capital of Istanbul.

     
    • Irene Thompson

      Thank you for your comment. We will look into it.

       
  2. Akif Demir

    Turkey’s population is around 76 million but it’s written as 46,3 million in the text.”The worldwide population of speakers of Turkish is estimated at around 51 million (Ethnologue)”. Is it logical?

     
  3. Kaan

    Hi,

    “Ben ediyor muyum” means “Do I” not “Bediyor musum” which does not mean anything in Turkish.

     
    • Irene Thompson

      Thank you for your comment. We will fix the error. Keep the corrections coming!

       
  4. Pingback: Bulgaria Population in 2013 | Population Fun

  5. nalan

    The verb “et-” does not mean anything itself as it is a helping verb and is always used with certain nouns preceding it. So “Ben ediyorum” is not meaningful. You should give an example such as “(Ben) kahvaltı ediyorum”.

     
  6. Graham Howe

    I would disagree that there are 7 cases in Turkish; there are only 6. There is no separate instrumental case, and this is expressed by means of postpositions or the ablative, depending on context.

     

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