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Less-Commonly-Taught Languages Center

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Courses Offered

  • Turkish 1: TURKSH 0101 (Formerly LING 0561)
  • Turkish 2: TURKSH 0102 (Formerly LING 0562)
  • Turkish 3: TURKSH 0103 (Formerly LING 0563)
  • Turkish 4: TURKSH 0104 (Formerly LING 0564)
  • Turkish 5: TURKSH 1901 (Independent Study - please contact instructor for permission number)
  • Turkish 6: TURKSH 1901 (Independent Study - please contact instructor for permission number)
  • Special Topics in Turkish: Turkish Culture & Society, TURKSH 1909


Nur Lider

About Turkish

About 75 million people speak Turkish as their first language, most prominently in Turkey and Eastern Europe. It is the official language of Turkey and Cyprus, and has official status in Kosova and Macedonia. There are also large communities of Turkish speakers in the Balkans, the Caucasus, and in Western Europe where Turkish immigrants have been guest workers for so many years. Turkish has 29 letters written in a modified version of the Latin alphabet.

Why Study Turkish?

Turkish will be of significant interest to students in a variety of fields. For linguistics majors, studying Turkish will fulfill the Less-Commonly-Taught language requirement and also provide a solid foundation for learning other Turkic languages. Turkish belongs to the Altaic branch of the Ural-Altaic language family and shares mutual intelligibility with most of the Turkic languages including Azeri, Uighur, Turkmen, Kyrgyz, Kazakh, Uzbek and many others spoken from the Balkans across Central Asia and all the way to northwestern China and Siberia.

The US government considers Turkish to be a critical language. Numerous government jobs, scholarships and fellowships are available for students studying Less-Commonly-Taught-Languages like Turkish.(Link 1).

Study of Turkish will benefit anyone majoring or minoring in international affairs, journalism, political science, global finance and business.. Turkey is a Euroasian country on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean and strategically connected in geography and culture to Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East. Knowledge of Turkey and Turkish will make you a valuable asset for corporations, government agencies and research institutions promoting closer ties with these regions of vital strategic importance.

For students of anthropology, archeology and history, Turkish language skills will open up exciting research opportunities. Anatolia, the territory of Modern Turkey, has been a heartland of human civilization, hosting some of the world’s greatest archeological sites including ruins from the oldest known human settlement, atal Hyk (7500 BC), the city of Troy, Nova’s Ark, Ephesus, and Istanbul-the only city in the world located on two continents (Link 2). Turkish archives today offer an immense amount of documents and historical information pertinent to Hittite, Assyrian, Hellenistic, Persian Roman, Byzantine, Islamic and Ottoman-Turkish civilizations.

Some Fun Things About Turkish Grammar

Turkish is an agglutinative language. Suffixes indicating different grammatical functions are attached to a root-word to modify meaning. The process of agglutination –literally meaning- a gluing on transforms a single word-stem into a meaningful phrase or a complete sentence. The rules governing how suffixes are attached in Turkish are highly regular, making agglutination easier than it seems.

resim picture mutlu happy
resimler pictures mutlusun. You are happy.
resimlerim my pictures mutluydun. You were happy.
resimlerimdi. they were my pictures mutlu muydun? Were you happy?

Turkish uses postpositions, for example, ailem iin (for my family), okuldan sonra (after school). Sentence construction in Turkish is based on the subject-object-verb pattern.

Turkish: Selin Istanbul’a gitti. Ali pazardan sebze alacak.
English: Selin to Istanbul went. Ali from bazaar vegetable will buy.

Another fundamental characteristic of Turkish is the rule of vowel harmony according to which vowel(s) of a suffix must have the same properties with the last vowel of the word to which the suffix is added. Turkish has eight vowels grouped in terms of presence or absence of three phonemic features: front-back , rounded-unrounded, high-low. For example, if a word stem has a back vowel (a, i, o, u) subsequent suffixes will also contain vowels pronounced in the back of the mouth, with the same rule holding true for front vowels (e, i, , ).

Example: noun + plural suffix (-ler after front vowels and –lar after back vowels)

adamlar men                 kediler cats
doktorlar doctors szckler words
yildizlar stars pencereler windows
armutlar pears kyler villages

Turkish is a phonetic language-each letter always retains one single sound. This makes spelling and pronunciation of new words in Turkish much easier than in English, which has long and short sounds for a single letter such as cut/cute, can/cane or silent letters like knife, know.

Turkish Culture

Students in the Turkish class will learn a great deal about the Turkish culture, which is a unique blend of eastern and western traditions (Link 3). In each class, cultural features will be introduced in relation to particular vocabulary and grammar forms being studied. Turkish is a highly idiomatic language with a set of cultural expressions that are crucial for effective communication in Turkish society. It is a lot of fun to learn these expressions, and they will make communication in Turkish easier and more authentic.

Students will also learn socio-linguistic rules of everyday speech including gestures, body language, linguistic fillers such as sey, efendim, paralinguals like f, ya, aman. Particular attention will be given to culturally appropriate ways to address and greet people, express gratitude, ask questions, agree or disagree with someone in different conversational situations.

Aspects of Turkish cultural identity like rituals, customs and traditions will be presented through proverbs, folktales, myths, simple poems, rhymes, songs, magazine and newspaper clips and national holidays.


Scholarship Opportunities for Students of Turkish (undergraduate and graduate)

Interested in Study Abroad?

Interested in Turkish Culture?


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