Turkish - interesting facts


Turkish, known as Türkçe, is a fascinating language that bridges the gap between Europe and Asia. It belongs to the Turkic language family, which includes languages spoken across Central Asia, Siberia, and Turkey. With over 70 million native speakers, Turkish is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world.

Turkish holds great significance as Turkey's official language, serving as a unifying force for its diverse population. Significant Turkish communities also speak it in other countries, including Germany, Bulgaria, Cyprus, and the Balkans.

One intriguing aspect of Turkish is its classification as an agglutinative language. This means that words are formed by adding suffixes to a root word, allowing for the creation of complex and expressive words. The agglutinative nature of Turkish makes it highly flexible and allows for efficient communication.

Turkey's rich historical and cultural heritage has contributed to the significance of the Turkish language globally. The Ottoman Empire, which the Turks ruled for centuries, profoundly impacted the development and spread of the Turkish language. Ottoman Turkish, a predecessor of modern Turkish, was the language of administration, literature, and diplomacy across a vast empire.

In the early 20th century, under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, language reform was initiated to modernize and simplify Turkish. The aim was to remove the Arabic and Persian influences and adopt a more phonetic writing system based on the Latin alphabet. This reform, known as the "Turkish Language Revolution," transformed Turkish into a more accessible and inclusive language.

Learning Turkish opens up a world of cultural exploration and engagement. Classical and contemporary Turkish literature offers a rich tapestry of poetry, novels, and plays. Works by renowned authors like Orhan Pamuk, Nazım Hikmet, and Elif Şafak have gained international acclaim, providing glimpses into Turkish history, society, and identity.

In addition to its literary contributions, Turkish cuisine is renowned worldwide. From delicious kebabs and baklava to rich Turkish coffee, the language of food transcends borders and offers a sensory experience that reflects the Turkish way of life.

Turkish also boasts several unique features that intrigue language enthusiasts. For example, it is an agglutinative language that allows for the formation of compound words. Additionally, Turkish has vowel harmony, a system in which vowels within a word harmonize, creating a melodic flow in speech.

Moreover, Turkish has left its mark on the English language. Through historical interactions, words like "yogurt," "baklava," and "divan" have been borrowed from Turkish and integrated into the English lexicon, representing the cultural exchange between the two languages.

As a traveller, having a basic understanding of Turkish can enhance your experiences in Turkey and other Turkish-speaking regions. Engaging with locals in their native language can create connections, deepen cultural understanding, and open doors to authentic experiences.

In conclusion, the Turkish language offers a gateway to Turkey's rich history, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality. With its unique features, literary contributions, and global significance, Turkish serves as a bridge between different cultures. It provides English speakers with an opportunity to explore a world of linguistic diversity and connection. Embracing the Turkish language can lead to a deeper appreciation of Turkish society, traditions, and the warmth of its people.


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Turkish alphabet

The Turkish alphabet, also known as Türk alfabesi, is essential to learning the Turkish language. Understanding the basics of the Turkish alphabet can greatly facilitate your journey to becoming proficient.

The Turkish alphabet is based on the Latin script, consisting of 29 letters. Unlike other languages, such as English, the Turkish alphabet is highly phonetic, meaning each letter generally corresponds to a specific sound. This makes pronunciation more straightforward and consistent.

One notable feature of the Turkish alphabet is its simplicity. It doesn't include certain letters commonly found in the English alphabet, such as q, w, and x. However, it does include additional characters such as ç, ş, ğ, and ı, which represent unique sounds in Turkish.

The pronunciation of Turkish letters is generally similar to their English counterparts, with a few exceptions. For example, "c" is pronounced like the "j" in "jam," "ğ" represents a soft "g" sound, and "ı" is pronounced like the "uh" sound in "huh."

Another crucial aspect of the Turkish alphabet is its vowel harmony system. Turkish vowels are categorized as front or back vowels, and this distinction affects the pronunciation of other vowels within the same word. It's essential to pay attention to vowel harmony to maintain the correct flow and sound of the language.

Learning the Turkish alphabet allows you to read and write in Turkish, enabling you to communicate more effectively. With the Latin-based script, English speakers will find it relatively easy to recognize and grasp Turkish letters. By familiarizing yourself with the Turkish alphabet, you can progress to understanding basic words, sentences, and, eventually more complex texts.

Various resources are available to help English speakers learn the Turkish alphabet, including textbooks, online courses, and language learning apps. Practice writing and reading Turkish words regularly to strengthen your familiarity with the letters and their corresponding sounds.


Turkish proverbs and sayings

Proverbs reflect Turkish cultural values, wisdom, and the importance placed on friendship, patience, integrity, and the power of words. They provide insight into the mindset and traditions of Turkish society, offering guidance and lessons for navigating various aspects of life.

Dost kara günde belli olur. Translation: A friend is known in times of trouble. Explanation: This saying emphasizes the value of true friendship and how it reveals itself during difficult times. It reminds us to cherish those who stand by us through thick and thin.

Damlaya damlaya göl olur. Translation: Drop by drop, a lake is formed. Explanation: This saying highlights the power of perseverance and incremental progress. It encourages patience and reminds us that small efforts can lead to significant achievements over time.

Yavaş yavaş ağaç büyür. Translation: Slowly but surely, a tree grows. Explanation: This saying emphasizes the importance of patience and gradual progress. It serves as a reminder that success and growth often require time, dedication, and consistency.

Yüzü kara çıkmak. Translation: To go out with a black face. Explanation: This saying refers to feeling ashamed or embarrassed due to one's actions or behavior. It underscores the significance of maintaining a good reputation and avoiding actions that could bring dishonor.

İyi dost kara günde belli olur. Translation: A true friend is known in times of darkness. Explanation: Similar to the first saying, this phrase highlights the importance of genuine friendship during difficult or challenging times. It emphasizes the trust and support that true friends provide when we need them the most.

Söz uçar, yazı kalır. Translation: Words fly away, writings remain. Explanation: This saying emphasizes the significance of written words, which hold more weight and lasting impact compared to spoken words. It reminds us to be mindful of our written communication and the potential consequences of our written expressions.


Influence of Turkish on English

The Turkish language has left its mark on the English language through various influences. While not as extensive as the influences of other languages like Latin or French, Turkish has contributed a number of words to English vocabulary.

One notable area of influence is culinary terms. Turkish cuisine, with its rich flavors and diverse dishes, has introduced English speakers to words like "kebab," "baklava," "yogurt," and "pilaf." These words have become familiar to English speakers, reflecting the growing popularity of Turkish cuisine worldwide.

Another area of influence is textiles. Turkish words such as "turquoise" and "satin" have made their way into the English language, denoting specific colors and types of fabric. These terms showcase the historical influence of Turkish textiles, renowned for their quality and craftsmanship.

In addition, Turkish historical figures and cultural concepts have found their way into English. Words like "janissary" (elite Ottoman soldier), "pasha" (title for high-ranking officials), and "harem" (the private quarters of a ruler) have become part of English vocabulary, providing glimpses into Turkish history and culture.

Turkish influence can be seen in military terms. The word "yatagan," referring to a type of curved sword, and "janissary" mentioned earlier, both have Turkish origins. These terms demonstrate the influence of Ottoman military traditions on English-speaking countries.

Interestingly, the influence of Turkish extends beyond specific words. It has also influenced word formation patterns in English. For example, the "-li" suffix used to indicate possession or association in Turkish is mirrored in English words like "fiancé" and "protégé."

While the influence of Turkish on English may not be as extensive as that of other languages, it highlights the cultural exchange and historical connections between Turkish-speaking regions and English-speaking societies. It is a testament to the rich heritage and linguistic diversity that has shaped the English language over time.

Overall, the influences of Turkish on English vocabulary reflect the global reach of Turkish culture, cuisine, and historical heritage. They add a touch of Turkish flavour to English, enriching communication and fostering cross-cultural understanding.


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Your Essential Turkish




yes evet (evet)
no hayır (hajir)
please lütfen (lütfen)
thank you teşekkürler (teśekkürler)
I'm sorry özür dilerim (özür dilerim)
good morning günaydın (günajdın)
good evening iyi akşamlar (iji akśamlar)
goodbye iyi geceler (iji gedżeler)
good night hoşça kal (hośća kal)
hi merhaba (merhaba)
how are you?  Nasılsın? (Nasilsin?)
well Teşekkürler, iyiyim  (Teśekkürler, ijijim)
My name is... Benim adım  (Benim adim)
I don't understand Anlamıyorum (Anlamijorum)



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