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February 9, 2011

You (plural/formal) will not be able to talk.  One sentence crammed into a single word.  A single 18 letter word.  The best part about it: this word is not a unusually long word for the Turkish language.  Yeah, it is definitely on the long side of words, but not uncommon.

The thing about Turkish is that it is so much like math.  There are rules.  There are very few exceptions, and when there are, it is there is a rule to follow about finding the exceptions.  In my opinion this is both a blessing and a curse.  Everything has a reason for the way it is, but if you don´t know all the particular rules, the language is very confusing.
One of the biggest rules is Turkish is that of vowel harmony.  The sound of the words you are saying is very important in Turkish.  And how do you know what sound to make?  Well, it all depends on the vowels in the the ‘core’ of the word.  But before we look at this any deeper, allow me to introduce you to the two groups of vowels in Turkish. 
Group 1: Aa Iı Oo Uu 
Group 2: Ee İi Öö Üü 
Group 2 has dots while Group 1 does not.  Yes, the second letter in Group 1 is an undotted ı.  That being said, 9 times out of 10 all the vowels in a word will be from the same group.  For example: Ben okuldan geldim. (I came from school.  Ben (I) okul(school)dan(from) geldim(came-past tense, I).  ‘Dan’ (okuldan) is a suffix. It can be ‘den’ or ‘dan’; in this case it is ‘dan’ because the closest vowel to the end is ‘u’ a.k.a. Group 1.  ‘Dim’ (geldim) is also a suffix. Follow the same rule and you will find that we must use ‘i’…the last vowel is ‘e’ and this suffix can use the ı/i/u/ü vowels.  May sound a bit complicated, but you get used to it.  Really, you get used to the sound that makes sense with the rest of the word. 
Another great thing about Turkish is that it is completely phonetic.  Once you learn what sounds the letters make, you can read anything…not that you will understand it.  🙂  Most letters are pronounced the same or very similar to English, but there are a few exceptions.
 Cc Easiest explanation is that it is pronounced like an English ‘J’.  Like in ‘jelly’
 Çç An English ‘ch’ sound
 Iı Hard to discribe…like the ‘i’ in ‘lift’
 Ğğ Silent letter.  It always follows a vowel and lengths the vowel´s sound.
 Öö Like ‘oo’ in ‘cool’
 Şş English ‘sh’ sound.  
 Üü Like ‘ou’ in ‘you’
Other cool notes about the language:
  • Verbs always end in either ‘mak’ or ‘mek’ (changes with vowel harmony)
  • There is no gender in Turkish.  O means he, she, it, that.  Not like Spanish.
  • The words ‘a’ and ‘the’ don´t exsist.  Sometimes the word ‘bir’ (one) is substituted instead.
  • Verbs always go at the end of the sentence.
  • In fact, the word order in sentences in almost opposite of English.
  • One word can have many, many meanings.  Take ‘yapmak’: normally ‘to do’ but can also mean 15 other verbs as well.  This does cause a bit of frustration at times.

So this is just a taste of what I am learning 24/7.  It is hard and frustrating at times, but also so cool when I can express what I need to say in a language I have only been studying for 5 months.  It is true you pick it up from hearing it all the time, but is it a lot of studying and determination.  And it is fun.  Sometimes.  

Love from Turkey.

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 5, 2011 12:17 am

    This is really helpful/scary! I’m about to leave for an NSLI-Y summer program in Istanbul and I’m nervous and excited about learning Turkish…it seems so hard. Thanks for the great blog, btw.

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