All you need to know about Turkish

I have tried to compile some useful information about the Turkish language in this article, starting with the history and then looking at the characteristics of it. First, the history…

The history… Old Turkish

Turkish Language goes back 5500-8500 years.

It originates in Central Asia (The  oldest written records are found upon stone monuments in the Orhon, Yenisey and Talas region within the  boundaries of present day Mongolia. These were erected to Bilge Kagan (735), Kultigin (732) and vizier Tonyukuk (724-725) of Göktürk Dynasty.

The Turkish of Turkey that developed in  Anatolia and across the Bosphorus in the times of  the Seljuks and Ottomans was used in several valuable literary works prior to the 13th  century.

The Turkish Language up to the 16th Century

With the spread of Islam among the Turks from the 10th  century onward, the Turkish language came under the heavy influence of Arabic and Persian culture.

Turkish since the 16th century

After 16th century foreign terms dominated written texts. Some Turkish words disappeared altogether from the written language. Arabic and Persian languages dominated more literary works. This domination also effected spoken language in the Ottoman palace. On the other hand  spoken Turkish by the public had less effect of foreign languages.

With the 19th century reform  movements and western influence and the rise of nationalism  the reform  of the language  had begun. This new tendency became institutionalised with the  proclamation of the Turkish Republic in 1923. The New Latin alphabet was adopted and elimination of  foreign words from  Turkish had begun.

Characteristics of the Turkish Language

There is ongoing debate about whether the Turkic family is itself a branch of a larger Altaic family, including Japanese, Korean, Mongolian and Tungusic. The nineteenth-century Ural-Altaic theory, which grouped Turkish with Finnish, Hungarian and Altaic languages, is controversial. The theory was based mostly on the fact these languages share three features: agglutination, vowel harmony and lack of grammatical gender. (1)

  • Turkish or Turkey Turkish is the most widely spoken of the Turkic languages (some of the dialects are for example: Azeri, Turkmen, Tartar etc.)
  • Turkish belongs to the Altaic branch  of the Ural-Altaic family of languages. Therefore, it is closely related to Mongolian, Korean and perhaps Japanese
  • Turkish uses a “vowel harmony” a feature of all Ural-Altaic  tongues (a feature unknown to English speakers)
  • Turkish uses agglutination (where English  uses a separate word, Turkish often adds an ending to an existing word)
  • Turkish has no noun classes or grammatical gender (you do not have to remember whether the thing is feminine or masculine like you do in French or German)
  • Verbs come at the end of the sentence. The basic word order of Turkish is subject–object–verb
  • The language makes usage of honorifics and has a strong T–V distinction which distinguishes varying levels of politeness, social distance, age, courtesy or familiarity toward the addressee
  • Rules of the language  are very regular.  Turkish grammar is very regular (learn a rule and  there are usually no exceptions). Once you know a little vocabulary and  few rules about vocabulary building, then guessing at the meanings of the new word very easy)

(1): Wikipedia. Sources: Internet, Wikipedia

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