basics > The Turkish Alphabet

History of the Turkish Alphabet

Soon after the Turkish Republic was declared Law No:1353 dated 1st November 1928 changed the alphabet to Roman letters from the previous Ottoman arabic script. The Ottoman script was did not adequately cover the phonetics of Turkish. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk introduced the new Latin alphabet overnight, including some special letters:.

ğğ ĞĞ çç CC ıı II ii İİ öö ÖÖ ŞŞ şş üü ÜÜ

Soon after the Turkish Republic was declared Law No:1353 dated 1st November 1928 changed the alphabet to Roman letters from the previous Ottoman arabic script. The Ottoman script was did not adequately cover the phonetics of Turkish.

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

Turkish does not allow two vowels to occur together; there are exceptions, but mostly in foreign imported words. Whenever two vowels occur together they are each pronounced as a separate sound.
The letter -Y- is considered as a consonant in Turkish. It is used as a buffer consonant to keep vowels apart during word building.

  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 (Ö dieresis) ü Ü (Ü dieresis) are included in the Turkish alphabet.
  6. The letter g G also has a soft form ğ Ğ [as in English "fight, weight, sought"]

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.

The A-UnDotted Vowel Group

  • A pronounced as U in English lucky or mutter.
  • Listen to Turkish A - yasak adam ada
  •  
  •  
  • I - UnDotted I pronounced as ER sound in porter or water - without any r sound.
  • Listen to Turkish I - ılık ısırgan ışık
  •  
  • O pronounced as the O sound in lottery or bottom.
  • Listen to Turkish O - on oda orta
  •  
  • U pronounced as the OO sound in loot or boot
  • Listen to Turkish U - uzun upuzun numara
  •  

The E-Dotted Vowel Group

  • E pronounced is as e in letter or set or met
  • Listen to Turkish E - evet ben teyze
  •  
  • İ - Dotted İ pronounced is as ee in meet or ea in seat.
  • Listen to Turkish İ - bir ismim iyilik
  •  
  • Ö pronounced is as ir in bird or shirt - without any r sound.
  • Listen to Turkish Ö - dört ördek özel
  •  
  • Ü pronounced 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 pronounced as j sound as in jam jar.
  • Listen to Turkish C - cep cacık cimri
  •  
  • Ç pronounced as 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 pronounced 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
  •  
  •  

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This Treatise on the Turkish Language and its Grammar explains and answers some of the difficulties that the learner of Turkish may encounter along their way. Its focus is on Turkish grammar and logic.

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Turkish Basic Grammar: Alphabet, Vowel Harmony, Agglutination, Consonant Mutation, Lack of Gender. Intermediate: Nouns and Pronouns, Adjectives, Verbs and Tenses, Possessive Relationship and Possession. Advanced: Verb Moods, Participles, Clauses, Spatials and Spatial Relationships, Word Formation in Turkish. Conversational Items: Time, Seasons, Numbers, Colours, Saying "Thankyou", About "buyurun", Expressing Need, Daily Interjections, Modes of Address, Turkish Sign Language, How to say "too much, too many", Daily Talk, Common Door Signs. Glossaries: List of Daily Locutions, Daily Word List, Irregular Tense List, Turkish Single Syllable Verb List, Intensified Adjectives List.

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