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Description

Turkish

Turkish is spoken by about 60.000.000 people. Three-quarters of the speakers live in Turkey. The rest lives in adjacent countries, in western Europe etc.

Turkish is a member of the Turkic branch of the Altaic languages. Like Azerbaijani and Turkmenian it belongs to the Southern Turkic ('Oghuz') sub-branch.

There is a major dialect split into Western Turkish and Eastern Turkish dialects. A western dialect is Danubian, eastern dialects are Eskishehir, Razgrad, Dinler, Rumelian, Karamanli, Edirne, Gaziantep and Urfa. Modern standard Turkish is based on the dialect of the capital of Turkey, Istanbul.

Turkish is the official language of the Turkish Republic.

Turkish was spoken in Anatolia since the 13th century. Its written form, Ottoman Turkish, was heavily influenced lexically and to a lesser extent structurally by Persian and Arabic. It was written with a modified variant of the Arabic script. The spoken language was not affected by foreign languages as much as the written language. In 1928 the Turkish Republic made a language reform. The Turkish Republic is the successor of the Ottoman Empire, which dissolved in the aftermath of World War I. Arabic and Persian loanwords were removed from the language and a Latin based script was introduced. The Türk Dil Kurumu ('Turkish Language Academy') is still engaged in the purification of the Turkish language.

Turkish is an agglutinative language, i.e. it does not modify the stems of words for grammatical purposes (unlike fusional languages), it uses suffixes, which do not merge with each other or with the stem and which mostly bear only one grammatical meaning.

The vowel inventory is characterised by rounded front vowels.

Turkish features vowel harmony (as most Turkic and Altaic languages do). Vowel harmony is a set of progressive assimilation rules that only affects vowels.

Stress in Turkish has phonological status, i.e. it has no fixed position. Yet the default position of the stress is on the last syllable of the word.

Generally Turkish does not permit word initial consonant clusters.

Turkish is an almost exclusively suffixing language. The only example of prefixing is a reduplication process, which bestows intensified meaning on adjectives and adverbs.

The Turkish noun has six cases: nominative, accusative, dative, genitive, ablative and instrumental.

Adjectives are not inflected and do not agree with their head noun.

Turkish has no grammatical gender.

Pronouns are inflected differently from nouns.

Diachronically verbs in Turkish are of nominal or adjectival origin, consisting of a verbal noun and an agreement affix. However, from a synchronic point of view the Turkish verb has abandoned its nominal nature. Verbs are structured in the following way: stem + tense/mood/aspect marker + agreement suffix. The verb agrees with the subject. The verb 'to be' does not need to be expressed necessarily, e.g. bu yer uzak 'This place (is) far'.

The Turkish verb distinguishes between 'confirmative' and 'narrative' tenses. The use of confirmative tenses implies that the speaker himself has witnessed the action, the use of narrative tenses implies that the speaker has only indirect knowledge of the action he refers to.

Converbs are special non-inflected verb forms. In linguistic literature they are sometimes called 'verbal adverbs'. They act as adverbs, conjunctions and often they meet the functions of subordinate clauses. Many converbs agree with the subject by a suffixed possessive pronoun.

In Turkish deponents usually precede their head. Adjectives precede their head nouns. The unmarked word order is SOV. Alternative orders are possible under certain contextual conditions, for instance to emphasise a part of speech. Turkish exclusively uses postpositions.

Subordinate clauses are atypical in Turkish. Instead we find participial and converbial constructions. Relative sentences with the conjunctions kim and ki are a result of Persian influence.

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