Turkish For Foreigners 18 Kasım 2012

The differences between English and Turkish

Turkish is a member of the Turkic language group and belongs to the larger Altaic family. It is spoken mainly in Turkey and the surrounding regions and has about 70 million native-speakers world-wide. It has borrowed heavily from Persian, Arabic and French which makes it is easy to find known words in Turkish for foreigners.

A most significant change in the language happened in 1928. It was in this year that the Ottoman script, a version of the Arabic alphabet, was replaced by the Latin alphabet that is used by English and most of the western languages. This alphabet change simplified Turkish for foreigners who are using Latin alphabet.

Turkish is an agglutinative language. This means that endings are added one by one to the root of a word to produce the desired meaning. So an English verb phrase such as You should not have to go would be expressed in Turkish as a single word with go as the root.

The Turkish alphabet consists of 29 letters. It lacks the Q, W and X of English, but includes letters with a diacritic, such as Ç. There are 8 vowels and 21 consonants.

Grammar - Verb/Tense: Most aspects of the English verb system have their counterparts in Turkish. However the absence of a separate verb to be is one of the most important differences.

Grammar - Other: In contrast to English, written Turkish follows a Subject-Object-Verb pattern. There are some other word order differences such as 'prepositions' following the noun in Turkish, modal verbs following main verbs, relative clauses preceding the noun they modify.

Turkish has no definite article, and use of the indefinite article does not always coincide with its use in English. Similarly, personal pronouns in Turkish are used much less frequently than in English.

Vocabulary: In daily usage there are few English-Turkish cognates, and those are mainly words that share French roots. However in business life there are many English-Turkish cognates because of globalization and the weight of English as a language in business. This simplifies understanding Turkish For Expats in business life. 

Miscellaneous: Modern Turkish is, and was designed to be, phonetic. This means that a word's spelling can almost certainly be predicted from its pronunciation. And its pronunciation can be predicted from its spelling.


Cem Oğraş, Fluent English


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