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© Ectaco, Inc
ECTACO Electronic Dictionary

make yourself heard in Turkish !


Richard Chambers / Chicago University

Since 1928, Turkish has been written in a slightly modified Latin alphabet which is very nearly phonetic.

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 the phonetic value of all letters is known, then it is rather easy to pronounce any word one sees or to spell any word one hears.The following letters require explanation:

Aa = "a" as in "card" or "dark", never as "a" in"cat" or "back" ( kan = blood )

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

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

Ee = "e" as in "bed" ( ekmek =bread )

Gg = "g" as in "get" ( gelin =bride )

g ( yumuşak ge [soft g] Never appears as the first letter in a word; essentially silent; sometimes lengthens preceding vowel; sometimes pronounced like "y" in "yet"
(dag =mountain, pronounced daa , rhymes with the "baa" of "baa baa black sheep";
diger =other, pronounced diyer )

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" )

Jj = "j" as in "azure" (garaj = garage, pronounced as in French & English )

Oo = "o" as in "fold"(okul =school )

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

Ss="s" as in "sing", never pronounced like a "z" as the "s" in "his"(ses = voice)

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

Uu "oo" as in "boot" (buz = ice, pronounced like "booze")

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

Zz="z" as in "zoo" (beyaz = white)

Turkish belongs to the Turkic branch of the Altaic language family.The earliest Turkic inscriptions date from the 7th century C.E. and Islamic texts written in Turkic appear in the 11th century. Turkish, the language of modern Turkey, is spoken by about 60 million people. Other important Turkic languages are Azeri (15 million speakers) and Uzbek (14 million speakers). Turkish formerly used the same alphabet as Arabic, but has been written in the Latin alphabet since 1928 as mentioned above; since 1940, Azeri and Uzbek have been written in Cyrillic but efforts are now under way to replace it with Latin.

As an Altaic language, Turkish has virtually nothing in common with English or other Indo-European languages except for some loan words, usually from French or English.

Turkish grammar is complex, but also quite regular. Its two most characteristic features are : (1) vowel harmony (vowels within a word follow certain harmonic patterns) and (2) agglutination (addition suffixes to words.) Through this process, astoundingly long word phrases can be encountered. For example, the following means, "Maybe you are one of those whom we were not able to Turkify."


Another interesting feature is that there is no gender in Turkish.The same word , "o", for example, means "he", "she" and "it".

Turks generally call each other by their given names.For example, a man whose name is Ahmet Kuran would be called Ahmet bey( bey = Mr.), and his wife whose name is Ayşe Kuran would be called Ayşe hanım ( hanım =Ms.). Good friends drop the "bey" and "hanım". But a letter would be addressed to Bay ve Bayan Ahmet Kuran (Mr. and Mrs...).

Some useful Turkish words and expressions are :

Merhaba Hello[response is the same word] Günaydın Good day
Hoşgeldiniz Welcome Hoş bulduk reply of the person arriving
Nasılsınız? How are you? İyiyim I am well
Teşekkür ederim Thank you Bir şey degil Not at all / You're welcome
Adınız / İsminiz nedir ? What is your name ? Adım / İsmim ___. My name is _____.
Memnun oldum I'm pleased to meet you. Ben de memnun oldum. I, too , am pleased to meet you
İyi Günler Good day. / Have a nice day İyi Akşamlar Good evening
İyi Geceler Good night Allahaısmarladık -bye.[said by person leaving]
Güle güle Good-bye.[said to person leaving] Buyurun After you. / Come in. / Be seated / Help yourself; etc.
Elinize saglık Health to your hands.[said to person who prepared food] Afiyet olsun Bon appétit
Affedersiniz Excuse me Lütfen Please
İnşallah If God wills Efendim? What did you say? / I beg your pardon?
Dikkat Pay attention!/ Watch out! Kaça?/ Ne kadar? How much is it? / What does it cost?
Bu pahalı This is expensive O pahalı degil That is not expensive
Bu çok ucuz This is very inexpensive / cheap İstiyorum I want [it, this, that]
İstemiyorum I don't want [it, this, that]    

Numbers :

Bir(1) , iki(2), üç(3), dört(4), beş(5), altı(6), yedi(7), sekiz(8), dokuz(9), on(10), onbir(11), oniki(12) , yirmi(20), yirmibeş(25), otuz(30), otuzüç(33), kırk(40), kırkaltı(46), elli(50) , ellibeş(55), altmış(60), altmışiki(62), yetmiş(70), yetmişsekiz(78), seksen(80), seksenbir(81), doksan(90), doksanyedi(97), yüz(100), yüzdokuz(109), yüzellibir(151), ikiyüzonbeş(215), üçyüzotuz(330), bin(1000), bin dokuz yüz doksan altı(1996), milyon(milion), milyar(billion).

Other Useful Vocabulary :

Su water Fincan cup
Portakal suyu Orange-juice Bardak glass
Et suyu meat-broth Tabak plate
Süt milk Bıçak knife
Şeker sugar, candy, sweet Büyük big, large
Kahve coffee Küçük small, little
Sade no sugar Erkek man, male
Az şekerli a little sugar Kadın woman
Çok şekerli a lot of sugar Kız girl
Çay tea Çocuk child
Ayran yogurt drink Oglan boy
Bira beer Kız daughter
Şarap wine Ogul son
Beyaz white Anne mother
Kırmızı red Baba father
Buz ice Kardeş sibling
Biber pepper Kız kardeş sister
Tuz salt Erkek kardeş brother
Ekmek bread O he , she, it, that
Tereyagı butter Bu this
Peynir cheese Arkadaş friend, colleague
Meze appetizers Amerika Birleşik Devletleri United States Of America
Et meat Soguk cold
Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Republic of Turkey Tavuk chicken
Balık fish Pilav pilaf
Salata salad, lettuce Meyva fruit
Sebze vegetable Çorba soup
Sandviç Sandwich Tatlı dessert
Dondurma ice cream, sorbet Çatal fork
Kaşık spoon Pahalı expensive



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