Search: in
Turkish language
Turkish language in Encyclopedia Encyclopedia
  Tutorials     Encyclopedia     Videos     Books     Software     DVDs  

Turkish language

Turkish (Turkish: ), also referred to as Istanbul Turkish[1][2] or Anatolian Turkish, is the most populous of the Turkic languages, with over 70 million native speakers.[3] Speakers are located predominantly in Turkey, with smaller groups in Germany, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Northern Cyprus, Greece, and other parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

The roots of the language can be traced to Central Asia, with the first known written records dating back nearly 1,300 years. To the west, the influence of Ottoman Turkish the variety of the Turkish language that was used as the administrative and literary language of the Ottoman Empire spread as the Ottoman Empire expanded. In 1928, as one of Atat rk's Reforms in the early years of the Republic of Turkey, the Ottoman script was replaced with a Latin alphabet. Concurrently, the newly founded Turkish Language Association initiated a drive to reform and standardize the language.

The distinctive characteristics of Turkish are vowel harmony and extensive agglutination. The basic word order of Turkish is subject object verb. Turkish has no noun classes or grammatical gender. Turkish has a strong T-V distinction and usage of honorifics. Turkish uses second-person pronouns that distinguish varying levels of politeness, social distance, age, courtesy or familiarity toward the addressee. The plural second-person pronoun and verb forms are used referring to a single person out of respect. On occasion, double plural second-person "sizler" may be used to refer to a much-respected person.



Turkish is a member of the Oghuz group of languages, a subgroup of the Turkic languages. There is a high degree of mutual intelligibility between Turkish and the other Oghuz languages, including Azerbaijani, Turkmen, Qashqai, Gagauz, and Balkan Gagauz Turkish.[4] The Turkic family comprises some 30 living languages spoken across Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Siberia. Some linguists believe the Turkic languages to be a part of a larger Altaic language family.[5] About 40% of all speakers of Turkic languages are native Turkish speakers.[6] The characteristic features of Turkish, such as vowel harmony, agglutination, and lack of grammatical gender, are universal within the Turkic family and the Altaic languages.[6]

Old Turkic]] inscription with the Orkhon script (c. 8th century). Kyzyl, Russia


The earliest known Turkic inscriptions are the two monumental Orkhon inscriptions found in modern Mongolia. Erected in honour of the prince Kul Tigin and his brother Emperor Bilge Khan, and dating back to some time between 732 and 735, they constitute another important early record. After the discovery and excavation of these monuments and associated stone slabs by Russian archaeologists in the wider area surrounding the Orkhon Valley between 1889 and 1893, it became established that the language on the inscriptions was the Old Turkic language written using the Orkhon script, which has also been referred to as "Turkic runes" or "runiform" due to a superficial similarity to the Germanic runic alphabets.[7]

With the Turkic expansion during Early Middle Ages (c. 6th 11th centuries), peoples speaking Turkic languages spread across Central Asia, covering a vast geographical region stretching from Siberia to Europe and the Mediterranean. The Seljuqs of the Oghuz Turks, in particular, brought their language, Oghuz Turkic the direct ancestor of today's Turkish language into Anatolia during the 11th century.[8] Also during the 11th century, an early linguist of the Turkic languages, Mahmud al-Kashgari from the Kara-Khanid Khanate, published the first comprehensive Turkic language dictionary and map of the geographical distribution of Turkic speakers in the Compendium of the Turkic Dialects (Ottoman Turkish: Div n L gati't-T rk).[9]

Ottoman Turkish

Following the adoption of Islam c. 950 by the Kara-Khanid Khanate and the Seljuq Turks, who are both regarded as the ethnic and cultural ancestors of the Ottomans, the administrative language of these states acquired a large collection of loanwords from Arabic and Persian. Turkish literature during the Ottoman period, particularly Ottoman Divan poetry, was heavily influenced by Persian, including the adoption of poetic meters and a great quantity of imported words. The literary and official language during the Ottoman Empire period (c. 1299 1922) is termed Ottoman Turkish, which was a mixture of Turkish, Persian, and Arabic that differed considerably and was largely unintelligible to the period's everyday Turkish known as kaba T rk e or "rough Turkish", spoken by the less-educated lower and also rural members of society, which was much purer and which is the basis of the modern Turkish language.[10]

Language reform and modern Turkish

250px After the foundation of the Republic of Turkey and the script reform, the Turkish Language Association (TDK) was established in 1932 under the patronage of Mustafa Kemal Atat rk, with the aim of conducting research on Turkish. One of the tasks of the newly established association was to initiate a language reform to replace loanwords of Arabic and Persian origin with Turkish equivalents.[11] By banning the usage of imported words in the press, the association succeeded in removing several hundred foreign words from the language. While most of the words introduced to the language by the TDK were newly derived from Turkic roots, it also opted for reviving Old Turkish words which had not been used for centuries.[12]

Owing to this sudden change in the language, older and younger people in Turkey started to differ in their vocabularies. While the generations born before the 1940s tend to use the older terms of Arabic or Persian origin, the younger generations favor new expressions. It is considered particularly ironic that Atat rk himself, in his lengthy speech to the new Parliament in 1927, used a style of Ottoman which sounded so alien to later listeners that it had to be "translated" three times into modern Turkish: first in 1963, again in 1986, and most recently in 1995.[13] There is also a political dimension to the language debate, with conservative groups tending to use more archaic words in the press or everyday language.

The past few decades have seen the continuing work of the TDK to coin new Turkish words to express new concepts and technologies as they enter the language, mostly from English. Many of these new words, particularly information technology terms, have received widespread acceptance. However, the TDK is occasionally criticized for coining words which sound contrived and artificial. Some earlier changes such as b lem to replace f rka, "political party" also failed to meet with popular approval (f rka has been replaced by the French loanword parti). Some words restored from Old Turkic have taken on specialized meanings; for example betik (originally meaning "book") is now used to mean "script" in computer science.

Many of the words derived by TDK coexist with their older counterparts. This usually happens when a loanword changes its original meaning. For instance, dert, derived from the Persian dard ( "pain"), means "problem" or "trouble" in Turkish; whereas the native Turkish word a r is used for physical pain. Sometimes the loanword has a slightly different meaning from the native Turkish word, creating a situation similar to the coexistence of Germanic and Romance words in English (see List of Germanic and Latinate equivalents). Among some of the old words that were replaced are terms in geometry, cardinal directions, some months' names, and many nouns and adjectives. Some examples of modern Turkish words and the old loanwords are:

Ottoman Turkish Modern Turkish English translation Comments
m selles gen triangle Compound of the noun ("three") and the Greek "gonia" ("angle")
tayyare u ak airplane Derived from the verb u mak ("to fly"). The word was first proposed to mean "airport".
nispet oran ratio The old word is still used in the language today together with the new one. The modern word is from Old Turkic verb or- (to cut).
imal kuzey north Derived from the Old Turkic noun kuz ("cold and dark place", "shadow"). The word is restored from Middle Turkic usage.[14]
te rinievvel ekim October The noun ekim means "the action of planting", referring to the planting of cereal seeds in autumn, which is widespread in Turkey

Geographic distribution

Road sign at the European end of the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul. (Photo taken during the 28th Eurasia Marathon in 2006)

Turkish is natively spoken by the Turkish people in Turkey and by the Turkish diaspora in some 30 other countries. In particular, Turkish-speaking minorities exist in countries that formerly (in whole or part) belonged to the Ottoman Empire, such as Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece (primarily in Western Thrace), the Republic of Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia. More than two million Turkish speakers live in Germany; and there are significant Turkish-speaking communities in the United States, France, The Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.[15] Due to the cultural assimilation of Turkish immigrants in host countries, not all ethnic Turkish immigrants speak the language with native fluency.

In 2005, 93% of the population of Turkey were native speakers of Turkish,[16] about 67 million at the time, with Kurdish making up most of the remainder.[17] However, most linguistic minorities in Turkey are bilingual, speaking Turkish with native-like fluency.

Official status

Turkish is the official language of Turkey and is one of the official languages of Cyprus. It also has official (but not primary) status in the Prizren District of Kosovo and several municipalities of the Republic of Macedonia, depending on the concentration of Turkish-speaking local population.

In Turkey, the regulatory body for Turkish is the Turkish Language Association (T rk Dil Kurumu or TDK), which was founded in 1932 under the name T rk Dili Tetkik Cemiyeti ("Society for Research on the Turkish Language"). The Turkish Language Association was influenced by the ideology of linguistic purism: indeed one of its primary tasks was the replacement of loanwords and foreign grammatical constructions with equivalents of Turkish origin.[18] These changes, together with the adoption of the new Turkish alphabet in 1928, shaped the modern Turkish language spoken today. TDK became an independent body in 1951, with the lifting of the requirement that it should be presided over by the Minister of Education. This status continued until August 1983, when it was again made into a governmental body in the constitution of 1982, following the military coup d' tat of 1980.[12]


Map of Turkey Modern standard Turkish is based on the dialect of Istanbul.[19] Dialectal variation persists, in spite of the levelling influence of the standard used in mass media and the Turkish education system since the 1930s.[20] Academically, researchers from Turkey often refer to Turkish dialects as a z or ive, leading to an ambiguity with the linguistic concept of accent, which is also covered with these words. Projects investigating Turkish dialects are being carried out by several universities, as well as a dedicated work group of the Turkish Language Association. Work is currently in progress for the compilation and publication of their research as a comprehensive dialect atlas of the Turkish language.[21][22]

Rumelice is spoken by immigrants from Rumelia, and includes the distinct dialects of Deliorman, Dinler, and Adakale, which are influenced by the theoretized Balkan linguistic union. K br s T rk esi is the name for Cypriot Turkish and is spoken by the Turkish Cypriots. Edirne is the dialect of Edirne. Ege is spoken in the Aegean region, with its usage extending to Antalya. The nomadic Y r k tribes of the Mediterranean Region of Turkey also have their own dialect of Turkish.[23] This group is not to be confused with the Yuruk nomads of Macedonia, Greece, and European Turkey who speak Balkan Gagauz Turkish.

G neydo u is spoken in the southeast, to the east of Mersin. Do u, a dialect in Eastern Anatolia, has a dialect continuum with Azeri, particularly with Karapapak dialects in some areas. The Central Anatolia region speaks Orta Anadolu. Karadeniz, spoken in the Eastern Black Sea Region and represented primarily by the Trabzon dialect, exhibits substratum influence from Greek in phonology and syntax;[24] it is also known as Laz dialect (not to be confused with the Laz language). Kastamonu is spoken in Kastamonu and its surrounding areas. The Hem inli dialect, known as Hem ince, is spoken by the eastern group of Hamshenis around Artvin, influenced by Armenian.[25] Karamanl ca is spoken in Greece, where it is also named K (Karamanlidika). It is the literary standard for Karamanlides.

Anatolian dialects

The classification of the Anatolian dialects of Turkish language:[26]

1. Eastern Anatolian Dialects

1.1.1. A r , Malazgirt
1.1.2. Mu , Bitlis
1.1.3. Ahlat, Adilcevaz, Bulan k, Van
1.1.4. Diyarbak r
1.1.5. Palu, Karako an, Bing l, Karl ova, Siirt

1.2.1. Kars (Yerli)
1.2.2. Erzurum, A kale, Ovac k, Narman
1.2.3. Pasinler, Horasan, H n s, Tekman, Karayaz , Tercan (partim)
1.2.4. Bayburt, spir (excl. northern), Erzincan, ay rl , Tercan (partim)
1.2.5. G m hane
1.2.6. Refahiye, Kemah
1.2.7. Kars (Azeri and Terekeme)

1.3.1. Posof, Artvin, av at, Ardanu , Yusufeli Ardahan, Olur, Oltu, enkaya; Ah ska Turks (Georgia) Tortum spir (northern)

1.4.1. Kemaliye, li , A n
1.4.2. Tunceli, Hozat, Mazgirt, Pertek
1.4.3. Harput
1.4.4. Elaz , Keban, Baskil

2. Northeastern Anatolian Dialects

2.1.1. Vakf kebir, Ak aabat, Tonya, Ma ka, Of, aykara
2.1.2. Trabzon, Yomra, S rmene, Arakl , Rize, Kalkandere, kizdere

2.2.1. ayeli
2.2.2. aml hem in, Pazar, Hem in, Arde en, F nd kl

2.3.1. Arhavi, Hopa (included Kemalpa a belde)
2.3.2. Hopa (a little part)
2.3.3. Bor ka, Muratl , Camili, Meydanc k, Ortak y (Berta) bucak of Artvin (merkez)

3. Western Anatolian Dialects

3.1.1. Afyonkarahisar, Eski ehir, U ak, Nall han
3.1.2. anakkale, Bal kesir, Bursa, Bilecik
3.1.3. Ayd n, Burdur, Denizli, Isparta, zmir, K tahya, Manisa, Mu la
3.1.4. Antalya

3.2. zmit, Sakarya

3.3.1. Zonguldak, Devrek, Ere li
3.3.2. Bart n, aycuma, Amasra
3.3.3. Bolu, Ovac k, Eskipazar, Karab k, Safranbolu, Ulus, Eflani, Kuruca ile
3.3.4. Kastamonu

3.4.1. G yn k, Mudurnu, K br sc k, Seben
3.4.2. K z lcahamam, Beypazar , aml dere, G d l, Aya
3.4.3. ank r , skilip, Karg , Bayat, Osmanc k, Tosya, Boyabat

3.5.1. Sinop, Ala am
3.5.2. Samsun, Kavak, ar amba, Terme
3.5.3. Ordu, Giresun, alpazar

3.6.1. Ladik, Havza, Amasya, Tokat, Erbaa, Niksar, Turhal, Re adiye, Almus
3.6.2. Zile, Artova, Sivas, Y ld zeli, Hafik, Zara, Mesudiye
3.6.3. ebinkarahisar, Alucra, Su ehri
3.6.4. Kangal, Divri i, G r n, Malatya, Hekimhan, Arapkir

3.7.1. Ak ada , Darende, Do an ehir
3.7.2. Af in, Elbistan, G ksun, And r n, Adana, Hatay, Tarsus, Ere li
3.7.3. Kahramanmara , Gaziantep
3.7.4. Ad yaman, Halfeti, Birecik, Kilis

3.8. Ankara, Haymana, Bal , erefliko hisar, ubuk, K r kkale, Keskin, Kalecik, K z l rmak, orum, Yozgat, K r ehir, Nev ehir, Ni de, Kayseri, ark la, Gemerek

3.9. Konya, Mersin



Consonant phonemes of Standard Turkish
! colspan="2" | Labial Dental Alveolar Post-
Palatal Velar Glottal
Stop () ()
Approximant ()

The phoneme which is usually referred to as yumu ak g ("soft g"), and written in Turkish orthography, represents a vowel sequence or a rather weak bilabial approximant between rounded vowels, a weak palatal approximant between unrounded front vowels, and a vowel sequence elsewhere. It never occurs at the beginning of a word or a syllable, but always follows a vowel. When word-final or preceding another consonant, it lengthens the preceding vowel.[27]

In native Turkic words, the sounds , , and are in complementary distribution with , , and ; the former set occurs adjacent to front vowels and the latter adjacent to back vowels. The distribution of these phonemes is often unpredictable, however, in foreign borrowings and proper nouns. In such words, , , and often occur with back vowels:[28] some examples are given below.

When a vowel is added to many nouns ending with postvocalic k , the k becomes by consonant alternation. A similar alternation applies to certain loan-words ending in p and t , which become b and d , respectively, with the addition of a vowel.[29] This is because the final , , and gain voicing when followed by a vowel.


Vowels of Turkish. From <!-- Harvcoltxt -->
Vowels of Turkish. From
The vowels of the Turkish language are, in their alphabetical order, a , e , , i , o , , u , .[30] The Turkish vowel system can be considered as being three-dimensional, where vowels are characterised by three features: front and back, rounded and unrounded and Vowel height.

Turkish vowels
Front Back
Unrounded Rounded Unrounded Rounded
High i u
Low e a o

There are no diphthongs in Turkish; when two vowels come together, which occurs in some Arabic loanwords, each vowel retains its individual sound. However, a slight diphthong can occur when two vowels surround a yumu ak g. For example, the word so uk ("cold") can be pronounced (resembling the English soak) by some speakers.

Vowel harmony

Vowel harmony is the principle by which a native Turkish word incorporates either exclusively back vowels (a, , o, and u) or exclusively front vowels (e, i, , and ). The pattern of vowels is shown in the table above.[31]

Grammatical affixes have "a chameleon-like quality",[32] and obey one of the following patterns of vowel harmony:

  • twofold (-e/-a):[33] the locative suffix, for example, is -de after front vowels and -da after back vowels. The notation -de is a convenient shorthand for this pattern.
  • fourfold (-i/- /- /-u): the genitive suffix, for example, is -in or - n after unrounded vowels (front or back respectively); and - n or -un after the corresponding rounded vowels. In this case, the shorthand notation -in4 is used.

The following examples, based on the copula -dir4 ("[it] is"), illustrate the principles of vowel harmony in practice: T rkiye'dir ("it is Turkey"),[34] kap d r ("it is the door"), bu g nd r ("it is the day"), paltodur ("it is the coat").

There are some exceptions to the rules of vowel harmony. In compound words, the vowels need not harmonize between the constituent words of the compound. Forms like bu+g n ("today") or ba +kent ("capital") are permissible. In addition, vowel harmony does not apply in loanwords and some invariant affixes, such as -yor (present tense) and -bil- (potential). Some loanwords do, however, exhibit partial or even complete vowel harmony (e.g. m mk n "possible" < Arabic mumkin; and d rb n "binoculars" < Persian d rb n).[35] There are also a few native Turkish words that do not follow the rule, such as anne ("mother"). In such words, suffixes harmonize with the final vowel: thus annedir ("she is a mother"). Many loanwords from Arabic and French, however, take front-vowel suffixes after final back vowels: for example halsiz < hal + -siz4 "listless", me huld r < me hul + -dir4 "it is unknown", harfler < harf + -ler "(alphabetical) letters" (instead of the expected *hals z, *me huldur and *harflar).

The road sign in the photograph above illustrates several of these features:

  • a native compound which does not obey vowel harmony: Orta+k y ("middle village" a place name)
  • a loanword also violating vowel harmony: viyad k ("viaduct" < French viaduc)
    • the possessive suffix -i4 harmonizing with the final vowel (and softening the k by consonant alternation): viyad


Stress is usually on the last syllable.[27] Exceptions include some suffix combinations and loanwords, particularly from Italian and Greek, as well as interjections, adverbs, and many proper names. While such loanwords are usually stressed on the penultimate syllable ( lokanta "restaurant" or iskele "quay"), the stress of proper names is less predictable ( stanbul, Ankara).


Turkish is an agglutinative language and frequently uses affixes, and specifically suffixes, or endings.[36] One word can have many affixes and these can also be used to create new words, such as creating a verb from a noun, or a noun from a verbal root (see the section on Word formation). Most affixes indicate the grammatical function of the word.[37] The only native prefixes are alliterative intensifying syllables used with adjectives or adverbs: for example s ms cak ("boiling hot" < s cak) and masmavi ("bright blue" < mavi).[38]

The extensive use of affixes can give rise to long words. It is jokingly said that the longest Turkish word is ekoslovakyal la t ramad klar m zdanm s n z, meaning "You are said to be one of those that we couldn't manage to convert to a Czechoslovak". This example is of course contrived; but long words do frequently occur in normal Turkish, as in this heading of a newspaper obituary column: Bayramla amad klar m z (Bayram [festival]-Recipr-Impot-Partic-Plur-PossPl1; "Those of our number with whom we cannot exchange the season's greetings").[39] Another example can be seen in the final word of this heading of the online Turkish Spelling Guide ( ml K lavuzu): Dilde birlik, ulusal birli in vazge ilemezlerindendir ("Unity in language is among the indispensables [dispense-Pass-Impot-Plur-PossS3-Abl-Copula] of national unity ~ Linguistic unity is a sine qua non of national unity").[40]


There is no definite article in Turkish, but definiteness of the object is implied when the accusative ending is used (see below). Turkish nouns decline by taking case-endings, as in Latin. There are six noun cases in Turkish, with all the endings following vowel harmony (shown in the table using the shorthand superscript notation. The plural marker -ler immediately follows the noun before any case or other affixes (e.g. k ylerin "of the villages").

Case Ending Examples Meaning
k y "village" a a "tree"
Nominative (none) k y a a (the) village/tree
Genitive -in4 k y n a ac n the village's/tree's
of the village/tree
Dative -e k ye a aca to the village/tree
Accusative -i4 k y a ac the village/tree
Ablative -den k yden a a tan from the village/tree
Locative -de k yde a a ta in the village/on the tree

The accusative case marker is used only for definite objects; compare (bir) a a g rd k "we saw a tree" with a ac g rd k "we saw the tree".[41] The plural marker -ler is generally not used when a class or category is meant: a a g rd k can equally well mean "we saw trees [as we walked through the forest]" as opposed to a a lar g rd k "we saw the trees [in question]".

The declension of a a illustrates two important features of Turkish phonology: consonant assimilation in suffixes (a a tan, a a ta) and voicing of final consonants before vowels (a ac n, a aca, a ac ).

Additionally, nouns can take suffixes that assign person: for example -imiz4, "our". With the addition of the copula (for example -im4, "I am") complete sentences can be formed. The interrogative particle mi4 immediately follows the word being questioned: k ye mi? "[going] to the village?", a a m ? "[is it a] tree?".

Turkish English
ev (the) house
evler (the) houses
evin your (sing.) house
eviniz your (pl./formal) house
evim my house
evimde at my house
evlerinizin of your houses
evlerinizden from your houses
evlerinizdendi (he/she/it) was from your houses
evlerinizdenmi (he/she/it) was (apparently/said to be) from your houses
Evinizdeyim. I am at your house.
Evinizdeymi im. I was (apparently) at your house.
Evinizde miyim? Am I at your house?

The Turkish personal pronouns in the nominative case are ben (1s), sen (2s), o (3s), biz (1pl), siz (2pl, or formal/polite 2s), and onlar (3pl). They are declined regularly with some exceptions: benim (1s gen.); bizim (1pl gen.); bana (1s dat.); sana (2s dat.); and the oblique forms of o use the root on. All other pronouns (reflexive kendi and so on) are declined regularly.

Linking nouns (tamlama)

Two nouns, or groups of nouns, may be joined in either of two ways:

  • definite (possessive) compound (belirtili tamlama). E.g. T rkiye'nin sesi "the voice of Turkey (radio station)": the voice belonging to Turkey. Here the relationship is shown by the genitive ending -in4 added to the first noun; the second noun has the third-person suffix of possession -(s)i4.
  • indefinite (qualifying) compound (belirtisiz tamlama). E.g. T rkiye Cumhuriyeti "Turkey-Republic[42] = the Republic of Turkey": not the republic belonging to Turkey, but the Republic that is Turkey. Here the first noun has no ending; but the second noun has the ending -(s)i4 the same as in definite compounds.

The following table illustrates these principles.[43] In some cases the constituents of the compounds are themselves compounds; for clarity these subsidiary compounds are marked with [square brackets]. The suffixes involved in the linking are underlined. Note that if the second noun group already had a possessive suffix (because it is a compound by itself), no further suffix is added.

Linked nouns and noun groups
Definite (possessive) Indefinite (qualifier) Complement Meaning
kimsenin yan t nobody's answer
"kimse" yan t the answer "nobody"
Atat rk' n evi Atat rk's house
Atat rk Bulvar Atat rk Boulevard (named after, not belonging to Atat rk)
Orhan' n ad Orhan's name
"Orhan" ad the name "Orhan"
r sessizi the consonant r
[r sessizi]nin s yleni i pronunciation of the consonant r
T rk [Dil Kurumu] Turkish language-association
[T rk Dili] Dergisi Turkish-language magazine
Ford [aile arabas ] Ford family car
Ford'un [aile arabas ] (Mr) Ford's family car
[Ford ailesi]nin arabas the Ford family's car[44]
Ankara [K z Lisesi][45] Ankara Girls' School
[y l sonu] s navlar year-end examinations
Bulgaristan' n [ stanbul Ba konsoloslu u] the Istanbul Consulate-General of Bulgaria (located in Istanbul, but belonging to Bulgaria)
[ [ stanbul niversitesi] [Edebiyat Fak ltesi] ] [ [T rk Edebiyat ] Profes r ] Professor of Turkish Literature in the Faculty of Literature of the University of Istanbul
ne oldum delisi "what-have-I-become!"[46] madman = parvenu who gives himself airs

As the last example shows, the qualifying expression may be a substantival sentence rather than a noun or noun group.[47]


Turkish adjectives are not declined. However most adjectives can also be used as nouns, in which case they are declined: e.g. g zel ("beautiful") g zeller ("(the) beautiful ones / people"). Used attributively, adjectives precede the nouns they modify. The adjectives var ("existent") and yok ("non-existent") are used in many cases where English would use "there is" or "have", e.g. s t yok ("there is no milk", lit. "(the) milk (is) non-existent"); the construction "noun 1-GEN noun 2-POSS var/yok" can be translated "noun 1 has/doesn't have noun 2"; imparatorun elbisesi yok "the emperor has no clothes" ("(the) emperor-of clothes-his non-existent"); kedimin ayakkab lar yoktu ("my cat had no shoes", lit. "cat-my-of shoe-plur.-its non-existent-past tense").


Turkish verbs indicate person. They can be made negative, potential ("can"), or impotential ("cannot"). Furthermore, Turkish verbs show tense (present, past, future, and aorist), mood (conditional, imperative, inferential, necessitative, and optative), and aspect. Negation is expressed by the infix -me - immediately following the stem.

Turkish English
gel- (to) come
gelebil- (to) be able to come
gelme- not (to) come
geleme- (to) be unable to come
gelememi Apparently (s)he couldn't come
gelebilecek (s)he'll be able to come
gelmeyebilir (s)he may (possibly) not come
gelebilirsen if thou can come
gelinir (passive) one comes, people come
gelebilmeliydin thou shouldst have been able to come
gelebilseydin if thou could have come
gelmeliydin thou shouldst have come

All Turkish verbs are conjugated in the same way, except for the irregular and defective verb i-, the Turkish copula (corresponding to English to be), which can be used in compound forms (the shortened form is called an enclitic): Gelememi ti = Gelememi idi = Gelememi + i- + -di.

Attributive verbs (participles)

Turkish verbs have attributive forms, including present (with the ending -en ), future (-ecek ), indirect/inferential past (-mi 4), and aorist (-er or -ir4). These forms can function as either adjectives or nouns: oynamayan ocuklar "children who do not play", oynamayanlar "those who do not play"; okur yazar "reader-writer = literate", okur yazarlar "literates".

The most important function of attributive verbs is to form modifying phrases equivalent to the relative clauses found in most European languages. The attributive forms used in these constructions are the future (-ecek ) and an older form (-dik4), which covers both present and past meanings.[48] The use of these "personal or relative participles" is illustrated in the following table, in which the examples are presented according to the grammatical case which would be seen in the equivalent English relative clause.[49]

English equivalent Example Translation
Case of relative pronoun Pronoun Literal Idiomatic
Nominative who, which/that imdi konu an adam "now speaking man" the man (who is) now speaking
Genitive whose (nom.) babas imdi konu an adam "father-his now speaking man" the man whose father is now speaking
whose (acc.) babas n d n g rd m adam "father-his-ACC yesterday seen-my man" the man whose father I saw yesterday
at whose resimlerine bakt m z ressam "pictures-his-to looked-our artist" the artist whose pictures we looked at
of which muhtar se ildi i k y "mayor-its been-chosen-his village" the village of which he was elected mayor
of which muhtar se ilmek istedi i k y the village of which he wishes to be elected mayor
Remaining cases (incl. prepositions) whom, which yazd m mektup "written-my letter" the letter (which) I wrote
from which kt m z kap "emerged-our door" the door from which we emerged
on which geldikleri vapur "come-their ship" the ship they came on
which + subordinate clause yakla t n anlad hapishane g nleri "approach-their-ACC understood-his prison days-its" the prison days (which) he knew were approaching[50][51]

Word order

Word order in simple Turkish sentences is generally subject object verb, as in Korean and Latin, but unlike English. In more complex sentences, the basic rule is that the qualifier precedes the qualified: this principle includes, as an important special case, the participial modifiers discussed above. The definite precedes the indefinite: thus ocu a hik yeyi anlatt "she told the child the story", but hik yeyi bir ocu a anlatt "she told the story to a child".[52]

It is possible to alter the word order to stress the importance of a certain word or phrase. The main rule is that the word before the verb has the stress without exception. For example, if one wants to say "Hakan went to school" with a stress on the word "school" (okul, the indirect object) it would be "Hakan okula gitti". If the stress is to be placed on "Hakan" (the subject), it would be "Okula Hakan gitti" which means "it's Hakan who went to school".


Origin of the words in Turkish vocabulary, which contains 104,481 words, of which about 86% are Turkish and 14% are of foreign origin

Latest 2010 edition of "B y k T rk e S zl k" (Great Turkish Dictionary), the official dictionary of the Turkish language published by Turkish Language Association, contains 616,767 words, expressions, terms and nouns.[53]

The 2005 edition of G ncel T rk e S zl k, the official dictionary of the Turkish language published by Turkish Language Association, contains 104,481 words, of which about 86% are Turkish and 14% are of foreign origin.[54] Among the most significant foreign contributors to Turkish vocabulary are Arabic, French, Persian, Italian, English, and Greek.[55]

Word formation

Turkish extensively uses agglutination to form new words from nouns and verbal stems. The majority of Turkish words originate from the application of derivative suffixes to a relatively small set of core vocabulary.

An example set of words derived from a substantive root:

Turkish Components English Word class
g z g z eye Noun
g zl k g z + -l k eyeglasses Noun
g zl k g z + -l k + - optician Noun
g zl k l k g z + -l k + - + -l k optician's trade Noun
g zlem g z + -lem observation Noun
g zlemci g z + -lem + -ci observer Noun
g zle- g z + -le observe Verb (order)
g zlemek g z + -le + -mek to observe Verb (infinitive)

Another example, starting from a verbal root:

Turkish Components English Word class
yat- yat- lie down Verb (order)
yatmak yat-mak to lie down Verb (infinitive)
yat k yat- + -( )k leaning Adjective
yatak yat- + -ak bed, place to sleep Noun
yatay yat- + -ay horizontal Adjective
yatk n yat- + -g n inclined to; stale (from lying too long) Adjective
yat r- yat- + -( )r- lay down Verb (order)
yat rmak yat- + -( )r-mak to lay down Verb (infinitive)
yat r m yat- + -( )r- + -( )m laying down; deposit, investment Noun
yat r mc yat- + -( )r- + -( )m + -c depositor, investor Noun

New words are also frequently formed by compounding two existing words into a new one, as in German. A few examples of compound words are given below:

Turkish English Constituent words Literal meaning
pazartesi Monday pazar ("Sunday") and ertesi ("after") after Sunday
bilgisayar computer bilgi ("information") and say- ("to count") information counter
g kdelen skyscraper g k ("sky") and del- ("to pierce") sky piercer
ba parmak thumb ba ("prime") and parmak ("finger") primary finger
nyarg prejudice n ("before") and yarg ("splitting; judgement") fore-judging

Writing system

Sinop]]. September 20, 1928. (Cover of the French L'Illustration magazine)

Turkish is written using a Latin alphabet introduced in 1928 by Atat rk to replace the Arabic-based Ottoman Turkish alphabet. The Ottoman alphabet marked only three different vowels long , and and included several redundant consonants, such as variants of z (which were distinguished in Arabic but not in Turkish). The omission of short vowels in the Arabic script was claimed to make it particularly unsuitable for Turkish, which has eight vowels.

The reform of the script was an important step in the cultural reforms of the period. The task of preparing the new alphabet and selecting the necessary modifications for sounds specific to Turkish was entrusted to a Language Commission composed of prominent linguists, academics, and writers. The introduction of the new Turkish alphabet was supported by public education centers opened throughout the country, cooperation with publishing companies, and encouragement by Atat rk himself, who toured the country teaching the new letters to the public.[56] As a result, there was a dramatic increase in literacy from its original Third World levels.[57]

The Latin alphabet was applied to the Turkish language for educational purposes even before the 20th-century reform. Instances include a 1635 Latin-Albanian dictionary by Frang Bardhi, who also incorporated several sayings in the Turkish language, as an appendix to his work (e.g. alma agatsdan irak duschamas[58] 'An apple does not fall far from its tree').

Turkish now has an alphabet suited to the sounds of the language: the spelling is largely phonetic, with one letter corresponding to each phoneme. Most of the letters are used approximately as in English, the main exceptions being c , which denotes ( j being used for the found in Persian and European loans); and the undotted , representing . As in German, and represent and . The letter , in principle, denotes but has the property of lengthening the preceding vowel and assimilating any subsequent vowel. The letters and represent and , respectively. A circumflex is written over back vowels following k , g , or l when these consonants represent , , and almost exclusively in Arabic and Persian loans,[59] An apostrophe is used to separate proper nouns from any suffixes: e.g. 'in Istanbul'.

The specifically Turkish letters and spellings described above are illustrated in this table:

Turkish spelling Pronunciation Meaning
[ stanbul district]
where/that s/he works/worked
good news


Dostlar Beni Hat rlas n by A k Veysel at ro lu (1894 1973), a minstrel and highly regarded poet in the Turkish folk literature tradition.

Orthography IPA Translation
Ben giderim ad m kal r I depart, my name remains
Dostlar beni hat rlas n May friends remember me
D n olur bayram gelir There are weddings, there are feasts
Dostlar beni hat rlas n May friends remember me

Can kafeste durmaz u ar The soul won't stay caged, it flies away
D nya bir han konan g er The world is an inn, residents depart
Ay dolan r y llar ge er The moon wanders, years pass by
Dostlar beni hat rlas n May friends remember me

Can bedenden ayr lacak The soul will leave the body
T tmez baca yanmaz ocak The chimney won't smoke, furnace won't burn
Selam olsun kucak kucak Goodbye goodbye to you all
Dostlar beni hat rlas n May friends remember me

A ar solar t rl i ek Various flowers bloom and fade
Kimler g lm kim g lecek Someone laughed, someone will laugh
Murat yalan l m ger ek Wishes are lies, death is real
Dostlar beni hat rlas n May friends remember me

G n ikindi ak am olur Morning and afternoon turn to night
G r ki ba a neler gelir And many things happen to a person anyway
Veysel gider ad kal r Veysel departs, his name remains
Dostlar beni hat rlas n May friends remember me

See also



Details of the sources cited only by the author's name are given in full in the References section.


Printed sources

  • (2nd edition 1989)

On-line sources

Further reading

External links

ace:Bahsa Tureuki kbd: af:Turks als:T rkische Sprache ab: ar: an:Idioma turco arc: roa-rup:Limba turtseasc ast:Turcu av: az:T rk dili bn: zh-min-nan:T rkiye-g ba: be: be-x-old: bg: bar:Tiakische Sproch bs:Turski jezik br:Turkeg bxr: ca:Turc cv: ceb:Pinulongang Turko cs:Ture tina cbk-zam:Turco cy:Tyrceg da:Tyrkisk (sprog) de:T rkische Sprache nv:T ok bizaad dsb:Turkoj ina et:T rgi keel el: eml:Turc es:Idioma turco eo:Turka lingvo eu:Turkiera fa: hif:Turkish bhasa fo:Turkiskt (m l) fr:Turc fy:Turksk ga:An Tuircis gv:Turkish gag:T rk dili gd:Turcais gl:Lingua turca hak:Th -ng -kh -ng xal: ko: hy: hi: hsb:Turkow ina hr:Turski jezik io:Turkiana linguo ilo:Pagsasao a Turko id:Bahasa Turki os: is:Tyrkneska it:Lingua turca he: jv:Basa Turki kl:Tyrkiskisut ka: csb:T recczi j z k kk: kw:Turkek rw:Igiturukiya sw:Kituruki kv: ku:Ziman tirk ky: mrj: lad:Lingua turkana lbe: lez: la:Lingua Turcica lv:Turku valoda lb:Tierkesch lt:Turk kalba li:Turks lmo:Lengua t rca hu:T r k nyelv mk: ml: mi:Reo T kei mr: xmf: arz: mzn: ms:Bahasa Turki cdo:T - -g -ng mdf: nl:Turks ja: ce:Turkoyn mott no:Tyrkisk nn:Tyrkisk oc:Turc uz:Turk tili pnb: koi: pms:Lenga turca pl:J zyk turecki pt:L ngua turca crh:T rk tili ro:Limba turc rm:Lingua tirca qu:Turku simi rue: ru: sah: se:Durkkagiella sc:L ngua turca sco:Turkis leid sq:Gjuha turke scn:Lingua turca simple:Turkish language sk:Ture tina sl:Tur ina szl:Turecko godka so:Af-Turki ckb: sr: sh:Turski jezik su:Basa Turki fi:Turkin kieli sv:Turkiska tl:Wikang Turko ta: tt:T rek tele th: tg: chr: tr:T rk e tk:T rk dili udm: uk: ur: ug: vec:Lengua turca vi:Ti ng Th Nh K wa:Trouk (lingaedje) war:Tinurkiya yi: yo: d T rk zh-yue: diq:T rki bat-smg:Torku kalba zh:

Source: Wikipedia | The above article is available under the GNU FDL. | Edit this article

Search for Turkish language in Tutorials
Search for Turkish language in Encyclopedia
Search for Turkish language in Videos
Search for Turkish language in Books
Search for Turkish language in Software
Search for Turkish language in DVDs
Search for Turkish language in Store


Turkish language in Encyclopedia
Turkish_language top Turkish_language

Home - Add TutorGig to Your Site - Disclaimer

©2011-2013 All Rights Reserved. Privacy Statement