this will be quite a weird way to start a grammar lesson with, but you cannot believe how many times i’ve been asked the very same question so i’ll have to clear this point: turkish has no connection with the arabic alphabet! it uses latin alphabet. there are some words taken from arabic as well as persian due to historical and geographic closeness but i can assure you that the quantity of those words is no bigger than that of the words taken from languages such as french or greek. so PLEASE don’t go and demand the version of your name written in arabic letters from a turk! i don’t know, do something, go find an arab!
having put that aside, i can start giving some general info about turkish. it’s the official language of turkey and is spoken by about 70 million citizens. it’s also spoken in the north cyprus and can be heard in various european countries where turks live, especially in germany. the history of the language dates long ago and different variations of it is spoken in asian countries as well. for instance, the language of azarbaijan is quite similar, it’s not hard for a turk to understand it, or vice versa. the languages of turkmenistan and uzbekistan are further from what is spoken in turkey but one can tell that they sound somehow familiar. similar to the connection between the scandinavian languages i suppose. historically, all these languages originated from more or less the same but they’ve grown into different languages in time. within the borders of turkey, it’s possible to hear a lot of different accents but noone would ever get into trouble making himself clear in any part of turkey if he pronounces the words the way that is described in turkish lesson 1.
turkish is a phonetic language just like finnish, which means that the words are read exactly the way they are written and the letters or the combinations of them don’t have varying pronunciations. they’re always the same.
some of the letters and the very basic sentences are mentioned in the other turkish lesson so i’m not going to get into them.
in turkish pronunciation, the vowels are usually very clear-cut, so don’t lengthen them as long as they are not followed by a “g”! this is one of the most common mistakes that i hear from non-natives.
by the way, please check the pronunciation rules in turkish lesson 1 by gocccce. there are no exceptions in turkish pronunciation so you can easily guess how to read the words by simply following those rules.
the personal pronouns in turkish are:
sen (you - singular)
o (he / she / it – they are all the same. remember, it shouldn’t be pronounced like “ow” but should be cut very short)
siz (you – plural)
beni - benim (me / mine)
seni - senin (you / your)
onu – onun (him / her / it _ his / her / its)
bizi - bizim (us / our)
sizi – sizin (you / your)
onlari – onlarin (them / their)
“beni – seni – onu – bizi – sizi – onlari” are also used as “bana – sana – ona – bize – size – onlara”. these don’t have the same meaning and are used in different situations but since there are no differences in english, i cannot make them clear. this is a little more advanced but to have a general idea, whenever your sentence answers the question “whom?” use the first version, whenever it answers “to who?” use the second.
in turkish, using the personal pronouns in every sentence is not a necessity since the suffixes added to the verbs imply the pronoun. it is more or less similar to italian at this point.
compared to english, turkish has a very different sentence structure. many words are formed by suffixes. for example,
“i am reading” is equal to “okuyorum” in turkish.
“oku” is the root which means “read”, -yor is the suffix for present progressive tense and –um is the suffix that implies the action is performed by me.
the line up of these is always the same. firts the verb, (then if exists the suffix for negativity), then the suffix of the tense and lastly the suffix for personal pronoun.
the line up of the sentence is also different from english. in turkish, the general form is “subject – object – verb”. it may change in some cases but this is the generally used one.
let’s take “i’m going there”.
turkish equation is “ben oraya gidiyorum” or shortly “oraya gidiyorum”. (“ben” may be ignored as mentioned above)
oraya = there
-yor = -ing (go-ing)
git = to go (there is a spesific situation here, when “ , ç, t, k” are at the end of the words and they take a suffix starting with a vowel, these consonants soften and turn into “b, c, d, g” in the same order. but this is definitely advanced so you shall skip this part. i think there is a similar rule in finnish but i’m not sure.) + (you may wisely ask where the hell that “i” between git and –yor came from. well, there is another rule here, when a word ending with a consonant takes a suffix that begins with a consonant then a suitable vowel is put between them. ok, forget this, it’s way too advanced!)
the negativity is given by a suffix as well. there are no seperate words like “not” of english or “nicht” of german. generally –me give negative meaning to the verb it’s added. but it can turn into –ma, -mi, -mi;, -mu, -mü...etc. according to the verb.
for example; as said above “i am reading” is “okuyorum”. on the other hand, “i am not reading is “okuMUyorum”. (the line up of the suffixes is also mentioned)
there are no articles in turkish. the word “bir” (meaning “one” is sometimes used as an indefinite article as in;
bir kalem alabilir miyim? (can i get a pencil?)
kalem = pencil (may be used for pen as well)
and “alabilir miyim?” is “can i get?” but it’s not necessary to divide it into its components at the moment, it’s kind of complicated. (“alabilir miyim?” is not two different words, it’s one word but the question suffix and all the other suffixes that come after the question suffix are always written seperately from the verb itself)
capital letters are only used at the beginning of the sentences and private names. no need to capitalize the first letter of the nouns.
there is one single rule for pluralization and no other exceptions. we put the suffixes of –ler or –lar to the end of the noun, according to the last vowel of the noun. if the last vowel is one of a, i, o,u then we use –lar; if it’s one of e, i, ö, ü then we use –ler. quite simple actually.
kitAp (book) ... kitAplAr (books)
kelimE (word) ... kelimElEr (words)
don’t use apostrophes! we use apostrophes only when we add a suffix to a private name.
unlike english, making a noun possesive is a two sided work.
my pencil (you don’t add anything to the book itself)
benim kalemim = kalemim (benim=my is not necessary as mentioned above)
as we’ve said kalem is pencil, however we don’t leave it alone like that because since the usage of personal pronouns is not a must, when we leave it out of the sentence, then we would have a pencil not possessed by anyone! so we add possessive suffixes to the end of the nouns (if it’s a plural noun we put the possessive suffix to the very end)
possessive suffixes for personal pronouns:
my pencil = kalem-im
your pencil (singular) = kalem-in
his / her / its pencil = kalem–i
our pencil = kalem-imiz
your pencil (plural) = kalem-iniz
their pencil = kalem-leri
remember! the vowel of this suffix may change according to the last vowel of the noun. in this example it’s “i”, it may as well be i, u, ü”.
these are all the basic things that i can remember right now. i know, all these suffixes seem hard to understand (there are others that i didn’t mention not to make it even more complicated!) but it actually is very systematic and once you learn that system you can build everything on it.
i hope these become somehow useful.
(doesn’t have an exact translation in english. it’s something like “let it come easy” but this really is a pathetic translation! anyway, the expression is widely used in turkey.)