Sunday, October 25, 2009

In case you happen to not spend 7 hours a day studying Turkish...

...I will fill you in here on what its all about.

The Turkish alphabet has 8 vowels (A E I İ O Ö U Ü ) and 21 consonants. The letters Q,W and X do not exist in Turkish. Most letters are pronounced pretty much as you would expect, but some are not. Once you know the pronouciation of all letters though, it is pretty easy to pronounce any word you see or to spell (yay!) any word one hears -unless it is of an unworldly length. The following letters require explanation:

Cc = "J" as in "judge" ( can= life, soul, pronounced like "John" )

Çç = "ch" as in "church"( çay= tea, pronounced "chay", rhymes with "buy" )

Ğ ( yumuşak ge [soft g] Never appears as the first letter in a word; essentially silent; sometimes lengthens preceding vowel; (dag =mountain, pronounced daa)

lı( undotted "i" ) "u" as in "radium" or "i" as in "cousin" (ışık =ligth, ırmak = river )

İi( dotted "i" ) ="i" as in "sit" ( bir = one, pronounced like "beer" )

Öö German "ö" as in "König" or French "eu" as in "peur"( göl = lake, rhymes with furl)

Şş="sh"as in "ship" (şey = thing, pronounced "shey" , rhymes with "hay")

Üü German "ü" as in "für" or French "u" as in "tu" (gül = rose)

The Ö and Ü I am always getting wrong, and along with the ğ are probably the hardest letters in this language. I have yet to be understood when I try to say the word çöp, meaning trash.

Turkish belongs to the Turkic branch of the Altaic language family. Turkish, the language of modern Turkey, is spoken by about 60 million people. Turkish formerly used the same alphabet as Arabic, but has been written in the Latin alphabet since 1928.
As an Altaic language, Turkish has virtually nothing in common with English or other Indo-European languages except for some loan words.

Turkish grammar is extremely complex- but has rare exceptions. It has multiple tenses, I believe this is all of them- past, reported past, present progressive, future, past present, and geniş zamana (english name, I dont know). The word order is SOV- subject, object, verb. In English 'I went to the sea' but in turkish it would be 'I sea to went' or 'Ben denize gittim'.

Two Identifying features of Turkish : (1) vowel harmony (vowels within a word follow certain patterns, matching each others sounds in a rythmn) and (2) agglutination (addition suffixes to words.)

So in Turkish often instead of saying a phrase, you have one root with multiple suffixes attached to create one word saying the same thing it would take multiple words in English to say.
For example- hatırlayacaksam means 'İf I can remember later'.
With the use of suffixes, also often, extremely long words are created. For example- the longest word in Turkish-
Yeah. THATS A WORD. It means Like you are from those we could not make easily a maker of unsuccessful ones.

Some basic words in Turkish are-

Merhaba\selam- Hello

nasılsın(ız)\iyi misin(iz)\ne yapıyorsun(uz)\naber- How are you

iyiyim\iyilik\fena değil- response to how are you

evet\hayır- Yes\no. ( No can also be said by flicking your head up and clicking quickly).

teşekkür ederim\sağol- thank you

anladım\anlamadım- I understand\I dont understand- one of my favorites.

var\yok- there is\ there isnt- I have\ I dont have.

ne kadar- how much.

çok güzel- very beautiful, used to describe anything you think is good.

allaha allah- probably the most common word used, meaning god.

Afiyet Olsun- the 2nd most common word said in Turkish- which does not have a direct english translation, but along the lines of enjoy your food.

doğru mu- is this true? I use this all the time after saying something very complicated in turkish and I want to know if I spoke correctly or not.

Right now I spend all my time at school and evenings studying grammar, learning new words, practicing by holding conversations, or attempting to read childrens books. Becoming fluent in this language has evolved in a mission for me, that I attack with the determination as if it were a matter of life or death. Good news- if you speak slowly and use a fairly regular vocabulary, I can pretty much understand what your saying!!

I am hoping one day (soon!) I can master this difficult language...ama, tabi, inşallah. (but, of course, god willing).

xoxo, Amber.


  1. Good work Amber! I enjoy seeing you be pationate about this whole language learning process, it's somethings you have for your entire life. I know you are reaching your goals and making bigger ones, keep moving forward. Love you lots!
    Your Big Bro JJ

    ps- As you learn all these new words, forget not that your first word as a baby was my name. Atleast that's how I remember it :)

  2. alright, so Mom pointed out to me that after I teased you about a misspelled word on facebook, I misspelled a word in the above comment. Aparently it's 'passionate' Sorry about that :)

  3. Its 'apparently' actually. :P
    My first word was JJ? huh. I never knew that. Love you too!

  4. im so proud of you amber!
    you know so much!
    you are going to be better at turkish than i am at english.

    Keep me posted!
    love from back home...

  5. In Egypt they do the clicky thing too! Except without the flick of the head. I don't even say no anymore, I just click. And to say yes, instead of saying "iwa" I just say "oh" because thats the slang slang. I think it is going to take a really long time to get stuff like that out of our vocabularies!! Anyway, I love your blog and I am excited to see you guys in a couple months!