Manisa Turkish Icon - The Turkish language Explained for English Speakers

basics > Turkish alphabet

The Turkish alphabet

History of the Turkish Alphabet

The Turkish Alphabet was changed from Ottoman script to a Latin based script soon after the Turkish Republic was declared. Ottoman script was based on the Arabic alphabetic script but this did not adequately cover the phonetics of Turkish. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk introduced the new Latin alphabet overnight.
Turkish does not as a rule allow two vowels to occur together - there are exceptions of course - but mostly in foreign imported words. Therefore as there are no diphthongs then whenever two vowels occur together, they are each pronounced as a separate sound.
The letter -Y- is considered as a consonant in Turkish, and it is widely used as a buffer consonant to keep vowels apart during word building.

Law No:1353 became law on 1st November 1928 changed the Turkish Alphabet to Roman letters from the previous Ottoman Arabic script..

The Turkish Alphabet

A B C Ç D E F G Ğ H I İ J K L M N O Ö P R S Ş T U Ü V Y Z

  1. The Turkish Alphabet consists of twenty-one consonants and eight vowels.
  2. The alphabet is phonetic. Each letter retains its individual pronunciation at all times.
  3. There are no diphthongs except in a few foreign loan words.
  4. The letters W, X, Q do not appear in the Turkish Alphabet.
  5. The Letters ı I {UnDotted I) and (Dotted İ) ç Ç (C-cedilla) ş Ş (S cedilla) ö Ö (O dieresis) ü Ü (U dieresis) are included in Turkish.
  6. The letter g G also has a soft form ğ Ğ

There are six pairs of two similar but different letters. There is a difference in the pronunciation of each letter.

C - Ç   G - Ğ   I - İ   O - Ö   S - Ş   U - Ü

Pronunciation Differences between Turkish and English

Example sound files for Turkish Pronunciation.

Turkish Vowel Pronunciation

The Eight Vowels are divided into two groups for Vowel Harmony purposes. All pronunciation examples shown are given in British English.

  • The A-UnDotted Vowel Group
  • A - is as u in English lucky or mutter.
  • Listen to Turkish A - yasak adam ada
  • I - UnDotted I - is the er sound in porter or water - without any r sound.
  • Listen to Turkish I - ılık ısırgan ışık
  • O - is as the o sound in lottery or bottom.
  • Listen to Turkish O - on oda orta
  • U - is as the oo sound in loot or boot
  • Listen to Turkish U - uzun upuzun numara
  • The E-Dotted Vowel Group
  • E - is as e in letter or set or met
  • Listen to Turkish E - evet ben teyze
  • İ - Dotted İ - is as ee in meet or ea in seat.
  • Listen to Turkish İ - bir ismim iyilik
  • Ö - is as ir in bird or shirt - without any r sound.
  • Listen to Turkish Ö - dört ördek özel
  • Ü - is as ew sound few or stew
  • Listen to Turkish Ü - üzüm ünlü ümit

Turkish Consonant Pronunciation

  • The Pronunciation of these Consonants differs from English Pronunciation:
  • C - is always a j sound as in jam jar.
  • Listen to Turkish C - cep cacık cimri
  • Ç - is the ch sound as in church
  • Listen to Turkish Ç - çekiç uç çiçek
  • G - is always hard as in gate. It is never soft as in general.
  • Listen to Turkish hard G - general gaga gıtmek
  • Ğ (soft G) - lengthens the preceding vowel. It has no sound and never begins a word.
  • Listen to Turkish soft Ğ - ağa dağ iğne
  • The Turkish soft ğ can be likened to the silent gh sound in the English words such as weight, light, fought - etc.
  • Listen to Turkish Ğ - soğuk eğer oğle
  • H - is always aspirated as in Henry. It is never silent as in Heir.
  • Listen to Turkish H - lahana hemen sabah
  • J - As the French jolıe and in English closure, pleasure
  • Listen to Turkish J - müjde jale japon
  • R - is always strongly rolled even on the end of words.
  • Listen to Turkish R arabalar geri yarar
  • S - is always hissed as in safe. - It is never a z sound as in these or those.
  • Listen to Turkish S - sıcak masa ulus
  • Ş - is the sh sound as in sharp or bash.
  • Listen to Turkish Ş - şerefe şimşek başka
  •