What writing system(s) does this language use?
Turkish uses the Latin alphabet, just like English. However, the alphabet is slightly different.
This is the Turkish alphabet: Aa Bb Cc Çç Dd Ee Ff Gg Ğğ Hh Iı İi Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Öö Pp Rr Ss Şş Tt Uu Üü Vv Yy Zz
All the bold letters sound different from English, and you may have also noticed that Turkish doesn't have the letters Qq, Ww or Xx. Cc sounds like the j in jam. Çç sounds like the ch in chocolate Ğğ doesn't have a sound, but just lengthens the vowel before it. Iı does not sound like an English i, as a matter of fact, it doesn't even have an English equivalent. To make this sound, imagine a British person saying urgh, but a shorter version of it. That's an ı. Just don't forget, it's dotless! İi, however, is dotted, including the capital letters! It sounds like ee but shorter. Jj sounds like the s in treasure. Öö sounds just like the German ö. A close English equivalent is the i in bird. Şş sounds like the sh in shake Üü sounds like the ou in you.
How many people speak this language?
Turkish is the native language of about 70 million people, but worldwide about 100 million people can speak Turkish altogether.
Where is this language spoken?
Turkish is the official language of the Republic of Turkey (click here to learn about Turkey) and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Turkish is also spoken within communities of the Former Yougoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) where at least 20% of the local population speak it. Turkish is spoken by 2 million people in Germany due to a huge Turkish population living there. About 800,000 people in Bulgaria and over a million people in France, the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America also speak Turkish. There are also small communities of Turkish speakers found in Greece, Russia and Azerbaijan.
What is the history of this language?
The earliest forms of the Turkish language were written in Orkhon script.
During the Ottoman Empire, Ottoman Turkish language was influenced mainly by Arabic and Persian. The primary writing system was based on Arabic and Persian script. Due to the difficulty of learning the language only about 10% of the Ottoman Turkish population were literate.
However, in 1928, modern Turkey's greatest hero, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, had changed many things about the Turkish language. He changed the writing system to a Turkish variant of the Latin alphabet (without the letters Q, W or X, and added the letters Ö from Swedish, Ç from Albanian, Ş from Romanian, and Ü from German; and also added the letters Ğ, I, and İ to represent certain sounds which weren't present in any other Latin-based languages at the time), and replaced many old Turkish words with new loanwords.
The change of the writing system heavily benefited Turkey's youth, and during the 1930s, the literacy rate shot up to 70%. Today, the overall literacy rate for both males and females is approximately 87%.
Turkish literature is very rich, and stretches back even before the time of the Ottomans.
An example of a pre-Ottoman literary figure is Nasreddin Hoca, who is famous for his funny stories. Nobody really knows whether he existed or not, but there is a lot of proof. His tomb (which, although has a door with a huge padlock on it in front of the tomb, has no walls), can even be found in the town of Akşehir in Turkey.
An example of an Ottoman literary figure is Aşık Veysel Şatıroğlu, but everyone just calls him Aşık Veysel. He was a famous minstrel and a poet. As a child, he became blind in both eyes. His father gave him a saz, a Turkish instrument, and recited many poems to him. As he was growing up, he devoted himself to playing the saz and singing songs, and ended up becoming a saz virtuoso. Unfortunately he had a very tough life (in addition to being blind, almost his entire family died, and his wife ran away with another man). His songs are like poems and mostly sad, but are very beautiful and touching.
After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1922, Turkey underwent a huge modernization process, making it the most Westernized country in the Islamic world. Orhan Pamuk, one of Turkey's most successful authors, has also written many successful books, such as Kar (Snow), and Benim Adım Kırmızı (My Name is Red). In 2006, he became the first Turk to win the Nobel Prize, and won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
What are some basic words in this language that I can learn?
|Tünaydın. (rare), İyi öğlenler||Good afternoon.|
|İyi akşamlar.||Good evening|
|İyi geceler.||Good night.|
|Ne var ne yok?||What's up?|
|Görüşmek üzere.||See you later.|
|Yarın görüşürüz.||See you tomorrow.|
|Görüşürüz.||See you soon.|
|Yararlı ibareler||Useful phrases|
|İngilizce biliyor musunuz?||Do you speak English? (formal)|
|İngilizce biliyor musun?||Do you speak English? (informal)|
|Tuvaletler nerede?||Where are the toilets?|
|Teşekkür ederim.||Thank you.|
|Benim adım...||My name is...|
What is a simple song/poem/story that I can learn in this language?
Delivering a khutba
Once, Nasreddin was invited to deliver a khutba. When he got on the minbar (pulpit), he asked "Do you know what I am going to say?" The audience replied "NO", so he announced "I have no desire to speak to people who don't even know what I will be talking about" and he left. The people felt embarrassed and called him back again the next day. This time when he asked the same question, the people replied "YES". So Nasreddin said, "Well, since you already know what I am going to say, I won't waste any more of your time" and he left. Now the people were really perplexed. They decided to try one more time and once again invited the Mullah to speak the following week. Once again he asked the same question - "Do you know what I am going to say?" Now the people were prepared and so half of them answered "YES" while the other half replied "NO". So Nasreddin said "The half who know what I am going to say, tell it to the other half" and he left!
— by Nasreddin Hoca
Mini Bir Kuş
Mini Bir Kuş is a Turkish nursery rhyme. This is the Turkish version of it:
Mini mini bir kuş donmuştu
Aldım onu içeriye
Cik Cik Cik Cik Ötsün diye
Pır pır ederken canlandı
Ellerim bak boş kaldı
This is the translated version into English:
A tiny tiny bird got frozen
It perched on to my window
I took it inside
So that it could sing like jick jick jick jick
When it heard a purring sound it got excited
Look at my hands they're empty now
It sounds silly in English because the lines don't rhyme, unlike in Turkish.
Introduction • Glossary • Authors and Contributing • Print Version