Turkish language

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Turkish (Türkçe)

Spoken in

BulgariaBulgaria Bulgaria Bosnia and Herzegovina Georgia Greece Kosovo Lebanon Moldova North Macedonia Romania Syria Turkey Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Cyprus
Bosnia and HerzegovinaBosnia and Herzegovina 
Moldova RepublicRepublic of Moldova 
North MacedoniaNorth Macedonia 
Northern CyprusTurkish Republic of Northern Cyprus 
Cyprus RepublicRepublic of Cyprus 

among Turkish migrants in: Azerbaijan Belgium Germany France Netherlands Austria Switzerland United KingdomAzerbaijanAzerbaijan 
United KingdomUnited Kingdom 

speaker 75 million native speakers ,
15 million second speakers
Official status
Official language in TurkeyTurkey Turkey Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Cyprus
Northern CyprusTurkish Republic of Northern Cyprus 
Cyprus RepublicRepublic of Cyprus 

KosovoKosovo Kosovo (regional) North Macedonia (regional) Romania (regional)
North MacedoniaNorth Macedonia 

Flag of the Turkic Council.svg Turkish Council

Recognized minority /
regional language in
Bosnia and HerzegovinaBosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina Greece Iraq
Language codes
ISO 639 -1


ISO 639 -2


ISO 639-3


The Turkish language - also Turkish or Ottoman-Turkish - is an agglutinating language and belongs to the Oghusian branch of the Turkic languages . As the most widely spoken Turkic language, it is the official language in Turkey and, in addition to Greek, also in Cyprus (as well as in the internationally not recognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus ). Turkish is also used as the local official language in North Macedonia , Romania and Kosovo . Own names are Türk dili , Türkçe  [ tyɾkt͡ʃe ] and Türkiye Türkçesi . Please click to listen!Play

The Turkish language itself has a number of dialects , of which the Istanbul dialect is of particular importance. Its phonetics are the basis of today's high-level Turkish language . When the Latin alphabet was introduced for the Turkish language in 1928, the historical orthography of Ottoman-Turkish was not used , but instead the pronunciation of Istanbul was used as the basis for writing. The dialects in Turkey are in groups of the Black Sea region ( Karadeniz Şivesi ) Ostanatolien ( Doğu Anadolu Şivesi ), Southeast Anatolia ( Güneydoğu Anadolu Şivesi ), central Anatolien ( İç Anadolu Şivesi ), Aegean ( Ege Şivesi ) and Mediterranean region ( Akdeniz Şivesi divided).

The alternative name "Türkeiturkisch" includes not only Turkey , but also all areas of the former Ottoman Empire . This means that the Balkan or Cyprus Turks also speak a “Turkic Turkish”.


Today's Turkish is the mother tongue of around 80 percent of the people in Turkey (that was a good 63 million people at the end of 2015) and according to estimates in 1979 this was also the case for 37,000 people in Uzbekistan , Kazakhstan , Kyrgyzstan , Tajikistan and Azerbaijan . Turkish was also the mother tongue for 606,000 people in Bulgaria in 2011 , for around 290,000 people in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and in 1976 for 128,380 people in Greece .

63,600 speakers lived in Belgium in 1984 , around 70,000 in Austria (Ethnologue 2009) and more than 1.5 million in Germany . Furthermore, in 1982 , 14,000 people in Romania spoke Turkish, and in the territory of the former Yugoslavia , particularly in Kosovo , where it is also the official language, and in North Macedonia , 250,000 people speak Turkish.

In 1990 Turkish was still the mother tongue for around 3,000 people in Iraq and 2,500 in Iran . In 1970 there were 24,123 speakers of Turkish in the USA , and in Canada in 1974 there were 8,863 native Turkish speakers. In 1984 around 135,000 people in France and almost 150,000 in the Netherlands said Turkish as their mother tongue. In 1988 around 5,000 Turkish speakers were registered in Sweden .

In 2009 about 85 million people spoke Turkish, including 65 million as their mother tongue and 20 million as a second language.

The Turkish-speaking world: countries with a significant number of Turkish-speaking populations.
  • Official language: Turkey , Cyprus , North Macedonia (at municipality level), Kosovo (at municipality level)
  • More than 1,000,000 speakers: Germany
  • Between 500,000 and 1,000,000 speakers: Bulgaria , Iraq , Greece
  • Between 100,000 and 500,000 speakers: France , Netherlands , Belgium , Austria , United States , Uzbekistan
  • Between 25,000 and 100,000 speakers: Great Britain , Australia , Azerbaijan , Canada , Russia , Sweden , Denmark , Switzerland , Romania
  • Less than 25,000 speakers / none: Other countries
  • Today, Azerbaijani is regarded as the closest relative of Turkish . The language of the south- east European Gagauz ( Republic of Moldova and the Balkans ) is often regarded as a dialect of Turkish-Turkish, which is, however, controversial. The Turkologists in Western Europe cite Gagauz as their own language and those in the Turkic states as a dialect of Turkic due to the short distance between them. Mutual oral and written communication between speakers of Turkish, Azerbaijani and Gagauz is possible without major difficulties. The language relationship is roughly comparable to the relationship between Danish and Norwegian .

    Turkmen has a somewhat larger linguistic difference compared to Turkish, which is why a conversation, for example, between Turkish and Turkmen speakers, whether spoken or written, is much more tedious. The ratio roughly corresponds to the language difference between Swedish and Danish. The linguistic differences are mainly due to the fact that Turkmen, which is still dialectally highly fragmented, was influenced by various languages ​​such as Persian and Russian, not least under the influence of non-oghous, Central Asian Turkic languages ​​such as Chagatai .

    Because of these different language gaps, Turkish, Gagauz and Azerbaijani are grouped together as Westoghush languages, while Turkmen is assigned to an Eastoghuz branch.



    Róna-Tas “The Reconstruction of Proto-Turkic and the Genetic Question” in Johanson & Csató eds offers the basics of a reconstruction of Proto-Turkic, to which all 40 or so Turkic languages ​​ultimately go back. "The Turkic Languages", Routledge Language Family Descriptions, 1998.

    Old Turkish

    Old Turkish is the language of the Orkhon inscriptions and the first known written form of Uighur. The name Old Turkish must not be interpreted in the sense of a direct predecessor of today's Turkish. Old Turkish is an early form of the Uighur or southeastern Turkic languages, while Turkish belongs to the Oghuz or southwestern group of Turkic languages. For classification see the article Turkic languages .

    Mahmud al-Kāshgharī wrote his monumental “Collection of the Dialects of the Turks” ( dīwān lughāt at-turk ) in the 11th century . This Turkish-Arabic dictionary contains not only the translation of word material, but also a wealth of historical, geographical and folkloric details.

    Western oghusian

    Turkish Turkish goes back directly to Oghuz , the language of the Turkish tribes who immigrated to Anatolia in the wake of the Battle of Mantzikert in 1071. The Oghusen settled in Central Asia on the lower reaches of the Syr-Darya in the Kazakh steppe from the 8th century and gradually became Islamic there. Some of these tribes followed the Seljuks in the 11th century when they conquered Iran and western Asia Minor (Syria, Iraq, later also Caucasia and Anatolia).

    Ottoman Turkish

    The earliest works in Turkish in Anatolia date from the 13th century and thus shortly precede the establishment of the Ottoman dynasty . The first evidence of the Turkish language is a few verses by Sultan Veled , the son of the mystic Jalal ad-Din ar-Rumi . The Seljuq dynasty , which ruled Anatolia from the end of the 11th century, neither used the Turkish language in the administration of their empire, nor did it promote its use in literature. It was only after the power of the Seljuq rulers in Anatolia had been replaced by a large number of Turkish principalities (Beyliks) in the 13th century that Turkish began to be used as the administrative language in Anatolia because these rulers were insufficiently powerful in Arabic. At the same time there was an upswing in literature in the Turkish language (see e.g. Yunus Emre ). Persian, until now the predominant language of literature and poetry in Seljuk Anatolia, lost its most important patron with the court of the Seljuk rulers.

    The Turkish language in its “standard form” as the official language of the Ottoman Empire and as the language of Ottoman literature took up Arabic and Persian elements from the end of the 15th century . This development is due to the dominance of Arabic and Persian languages ​​in high Islamic culture at the time, which motivated the Ottoman elite to imitate and further develop these languages.

    Language reforms

    In 1928, the secular and Kemalist reforms after the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923 also took hold of the language. The introduction of the Latin script for the Turkish language in states of the Soviet Union made it easier to use the Latin alphabet in Turkey as well. Contacts with other Turkic peoples on the other side of the border were to be preserved. Incidentally, this reform step increased the cultural distance to the Ottoman and even more so to the Islamic past of the Turks. The secularization of modern Turkey continued. Considerations of reforming the Arabic script for Turkish or even replacing it with the Latin script were not new in Turkey. The Minister of Education, Münif Pascha , had already toyed with this idea in the Tanzimatära . Münif Pascha saw the Arabic script as the cause of the widespread illiteracy in what was then Turkey.

    After the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923, the 1930s began to replace foreign loanwords with Turkish words, some of which already existed, some of which were newly formed. These replacements of the traditional vocabulary have not yet been fully carried out, so that many words of Arabic and Persian origin can still be found. Graecisms are represented in many Turkish dialects , which appear in peasant terminology or in seafaring, fishing, viticulture and beekeeping terminology. Armenisms are less common in Turkish dialects. Since the 19th century, vocabulary of French origin was added , in the 20th century it was also of English origin.

    The Türk Dil Kurumu , the Society of the Turkish Language , is a state institution that was founded in 1932 to returcanize or modernize the Turkish language. The primary goal of this society was initially to replace numerous Arabic and Persian words with traditional Turkish equivalents and, if these did not exist, with specially created "New Turkish" words without regard to the other Turkic languages. Türk Dil Kurumu , which was derelict from the state in 1951 and subordinated to Dil ve Tarih Yüksek Kurumu with the 1982 constitution of Atatürk Kültür, and brought back under state influence, no longer pursues language reform policy today.



    Standard Turkish consonants
    Bilabial Labiodental Dental Alveolar Postalveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
    Plosives p b t d c ɟ k ɡ
    nasal m n
    Fricative f v s z ʃ ʒ ɣ H
    Flap ɾ
    Approximant j
    Lateral ɫ l

    The phoneme / ⁠ ɣ ⁠ / (usually Yumusak g called ( "soft g")) ğ never appears on the letters, but always follows a vowel. At the end of a word or before consonants, it indicates the long pronunciation of the preceding vowel.

    In words of Turkish origin represent the sounds / ⁠ c ⁠ / , / ⁠ ɟ ⁠ / and / ⁠ l ⁠ / allophones of / ⁠ k ⁠ / , / ⁠ g ⁠ / and / ⁠ ɫ ⁠ / group; the former appear before front- tongue vowels , the latter before back-tongue vowels . However, the distribution of these phonemes in words and proper names of foreign language origin is often unpredictable. Appear in such words / ⁠ c ⁠ / , / ⁠ ɟ ⁠ / and / ⁠ l ⁠ / times before back vowels.

    Turkish is (similar to German ) hardening of the sound , i.e. H. Voiced sounds become voiceless at the end of a word, this is the actual stem of kebap kebab- .


    Vowel trapezoid for the Turkish vowels
    Turkish vowels
    Front Back
    Unrounded Rounded Unrounded Rounded
    High i [⁠ i ⁠] , e [⁠ s ⁠] ü [⁠ y ⁠] ı [⁠ ɯ ⁠] u [⁠ u ⁠]
    Deep e [⁠ æ ⁠] ö [⁠ œ ⁠] a [⁠ a ⁠] o [⁠ o ⁠]

    The vowels of the Turkish language are, in their alphabetical order, a , e , ı , i , o , ö , u and ü . The letter e is used both regularly for the unrounded, almost open front tongue vowel , and more rarely for the unrounded, half-closed front tongue vowel . The <ı> no point is the unrounded closed back vowel [⁠ ɯ ⁠] . There are no diphthongs in Turkish ; when two vowels meet, which happens rarely and only in loan words, each vowel is pronounced individually. However, a kind of diphthong can occur when the yumuşak g is between two vowels. The word soğuk (“cold”) can be pronounced by some speakers [soʊk].


    The oldest Turkish script is the Turkish runic script with 38 characters.

    From the 10th century, the Oghuz were considered Islamized, and they adopted the Arabic script , which was supplemented by four consonants added by Persians. The Ottoman-Turkish alphabet also contained a consonant added by the Turks themselves, the kāf-i nūnī or sağır kef ( ñ  /).

    Early in 1926 took Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in Azerbaijan Baku at a congress of Turkish studies in part, in which, among others, the creation of a Latin alphabet for the Turkic peoples was demanded. Azerbaijan had had a Latin-based script since 1922: the unified Turkish alphabet .

    Since 1928, Turkish-Turkish has been reproduced using a variant of the Latin script that Kemal Ataturk helped to develop . Ataturk called this new writing system the New Turkish Alphabet . The Istanbul dialect was the basis for rewriting the words and for the general language reform . There are therefore no exceptions to the writing and pronunciation rules.

    The current Turkish alphabet consists of 29 letters, each letter being assigned a sound:

    abc ç defg ğ h ı ijklmno ö prs ş tu ü vyz

    The letters q, w and x occurring in the Latin script and the letters ä and ß used in the German script do not appear. j only appears in a few foreign words such as jakuzi "whirlpool".

    Special features of pronunciation

    Characters Phonetic signs description
    c [⁠ ⁠] Affricates like German dsch in jungle
    ç [⁠ ⁠] Affricates like German Tsch in Kutsche
    e [⁠ ɛ ⁠] Unrounded half-open front tongue vowel like German ä in would have
    G [⁠ ː ⁠] , [⁠ j ⁠] yumuşak / soft g : indicates the elongation of the preceding vowel at the end of the syllable (comparable to the German elongation h ), can also cause a smooth transition from one vowel to the next; after front tongue vowels (e, i, ö, ü) often as a voiced palatal approximant like German j in mermaid
    H [⁠ h ⁠] Voiceless glottal fricative like German h in house
    ı [⁠ ɯ ⁠] Unrounded closed back vowel , also: unrounded u
    j [⁠ ʒ ⁠] Voiced postalveolar fricative like German j in Journal
    O [⁠ ɔ ⁠] Rounded half-open back vowel like German o in God
    ö [⁠ œ ⁠] Rounded half-open front tongue vowel like German ö in would like
    r [ɾ] Voiced alveolar vibrant
    s [⁠ s ⁠] Voiceless alveolar fricative such as German s in house or ß in outside
    ş [⁠ ʃ ⁠] Voiceless postalveolar fricative like German sch in school
    v [⁠ v ⁠] Voiced labiodental fricative like German w in water
    y [⁠ j ⁠] Voiced palatal approximant like German j in jacket
    z [⁠ z ⁠] Voiced alveolar fricative like German s in Sage

    The other sounds are pronounced as in German.

    Voiced and voiceless consonants

    When creating terms from words that end in consonants and when using suffixes , the voicing of the final consonant must always be taken into account. A distinction is made between voiced and unvoiced consonants. The voiceless consonants ç, f, h, k, p, s, ş and t can be combined with the mnemonics Ç i f t H a s e k i P a ş a (“double Haseki pasha”) or F e P a Memorize ş a ç o k h a st a (“Fe Pascha is very sick”). If a suffix is ​​appended to an unvoiced consonant, a voiced consonant must be adapted in the initial suffix.

    consonant is adjusted to Example with a normal finish with suffix Example with final voiceless consonant with suffix
    (b) (p) (No suffix with initial b- known) - - -
    c ç demir (iron) demir ci (ironmonger, blacksmith, locksmith) fotoğraf (photography) fotoğraf çı (photographer)
    g, ğ k kız- mak (get hot, fig. also: get angry, infinitive) kız gın (hot, angry) çalış- mak (to work, infinitive) çalış kan (hardworking)
    d t ev (house) ev de (in the house) sepet (basket) sepet te (in the basket)

    Conversely, the unvoiced consonants p, t, k and ç often change into their voiced counterparts (b, d, g or ğ and c) when vowel-like suffixes are added. This particularly affects polysyllabic nouns and of these in turn very many that end in -k.

    Examples of word combinations with voiced and unvoiced consonants with a vowel suffix
    Voiced connection Unvoiced connection
    ev (house) evim (my house) çocuk (child) çocuğum (my child)
    altın (gold) altını (the gold acc. ) kitap (book) kitabı (the book acc. )

    This plays a role especially in the formation of locative and possessive connections as well as declinations .

    Circumflex as an auxiliary symbol

    The circumflex (ˆ, Turkish uzatma işareti ) is used in some words . This character indicates the length of the vowel and is often used to differentiate between two otherwise identically written words (for example adet [number] versus âdet [habit]), but in most cases it is now out of use. The circumflex can also indicate the palatalization of a consonant (for example kâğıt [paper]) and is then more common.

    Vowel harmony

    Prehistory : Ottoman language # vowel harmony

    A special feature of the Turkish language is the vowel harmony , which differentiates between light and dark vowels. The law of vowel harmony runs through the entire Turkish theory of forms. A purely Turkish word (with a few exceptions) only contains vowels from the series of light (e, i, ö, ü) or dark (a, ı, o, u) vowels. If a suffix is ​​added to a word, it has to match the vowel of the last syllable of the basic word.

    Small vowel harmony

    It only differentiates between light and dark vowels. The vowels of the suffixes after the minor vowel harmony are twofold and read e / a.

    Vowels Example (sing.) Example (pl.) Example locative
    e, i, ö, ü ev (house) evl e r (houses) evlerd e (in the houses)
    köy (village) köyl e r (villages) köylerd e (in the villages)
    a, ı, o, u oda (room) odal a r (room) odalard a (in the rooms)
    yol (way) yoll a r (ways) yollard a (on the paths)

    The small vowel harmony occurs u. a. with the plural suffixes and some case suffixes.

    Great vowel harmony

    In the large vowel harmony, the suffixes have four (instead of two) possible forms. They are formed with one of the vowels i / ı / ü / u, which is based on the vowel in the basic word. The following scheme applies:

    Vowel in the basic word leads to Example (nom.) Example (acc.)
    e, i i ev (house) ev i (the house Akk. )
    a, ı ı dal (branch) dal ı (the branch acc. )
    ö, ü ü göl (lake) göl ü (the lake Akk. )
    o, u u yol (way) yol u (the way acc. )

    The large vowel harmony occurs in all personal and possessive suffixes, in the question suffix mi and in the case suffixes of the genitive and the accusative.

    Another example of the great vowel harmony is the ending -li / -lı / -lu / -lü ; ("Coming from ..."):

    Berlinli (the Berliner), but: Ankaral ı , Bonnl u , Kölnl ü .

    It happens that as a result of the vowel harmony, several endings with the same vowel follow one another (for example huzursuzsunuz : you are restless , üzgünsünüz : “you are sad, you are sorry”).

    Consonant harmony

    Prehistory : Ottoman language # consonant harmony

    The unvoiced plosives t and k are converted to their equivalents voiced if they are followed by a vowel. T becomes d, k becomes ğ. Examples: gi t mek (to go) ⇒ gi d er - he goes; büyü k - large, büyü ğ üm - I grow up (s. Voiced and unvoiced consonants ).


    The Turkish languages are agglutinating and thus differ significantly from the Indo-European languages . Agglutination means that grammatical forms are indicated by a (unambiguous) ending. Several endings can follow one another, the sequence being fixed.

    Example: Uçurtmayı vurmasınlar. - "You should n't shoot the dragon down." (Film title)

    The sentence could be broken down as follows:   Uçurtma-yı vur-ma-sın-lar. - They-should-not-shoot-down a dragon.
    The ending -yı indicates the specific accusative; -ma stands for negation; -sın stands for the imperative, -lar for the 3rd person plural.

    Furthermore, Turkish has no article and no grammatical gender. In Turkish, the numeral bir (one) can be used to identify a single, individual, but not further specific thing (these are cases in which the indefinite article is used in German ) . Indeterminacy can also be expressed through other grammatical means, but it remains open whether it is one or more objects.

    Turkish has the sentence position subject - object - verb, so it is an SOV language . Another special feature for speakers of most European languages ​​is that there are no prepositions , only postpositions are used, examples: Fatma için - for Fatma ; gül gibi - like (a) rose .


    Prehistory : Ottoman language # cases

    In Turkish there are generally six cases : nominative , genitive , dative , accusative (definite: own ending; indefinite: same form as the nominative), locative and ablative . The corresponding endings are

    • Nominative and indefinite accusative: endless ( göl - the lake, a lake; araba - carriage, çorba - soup); tavşan getirmiş - He brought a hare
    • Genitive: answer to the question kimin - whose ?; the genitive ending is -in, -ın, -un, -ün, after the vowel the connective consonant -n- is added ( Hiatusilger ); E.g .: paşa - the pasha, paşanın - the pasha; gölün - the lake; arabanın - the car
    • Dative: answer to the question nereye - where to ?; the dative ending is -e, -a, e.g. göz - the eye, göze - (to) the eye; göle - (to) the lake; after the vowel, the connective consonant -y- is added (Hiatus Silger ) , e.g. hoca - the Hodscha, hocaya - (to) the Hodscha; arabaya - (to) the car
    • specific accusative: answer to the questions kimi - whom? and neyi - what ?; the accusative ending is -i, -ı, -u, -ü Ex .: gölü - den See; arabayı - the chariot, y is hiatalist; tavşanı getirmiş - He brought the hare;
    • Locative: answer to the question nerede - where ?; the locative ending is -de, -da or -te and -ta after the voiceless consonant, e.g. mektepte - in school, kafeste - in the cage, başta - on the head, at the beginning, şehirde - in the city, gölde - im Lake; arabada - in the carriage; Münih'te - in Munich; hayatta - alive
    • Ablative: answer to the questions nereden - from where? Where from? and neden - why ?; the ablative ending is -den, -dan or -ten and -tan after the voiceless consonant. E.g .: ekmekten - from bread; sabahtan - since morning; gölden - from the lake; arabadan - out of the car

    The suffix -lar, -ler is used to denote a plural. It occurs before all other suffixes, including case suffixes, directly at the root of the word. E.g .: hoca - the Hodscha, hocalar - the Hodschas; göl - the lake, göller - the lakes; göllerde - in the lakes (locative plural).

    Occasionally there are still remnants of case formations in Turkish, but their suffixes are no longer productive and only appear in fixed idioms and with certain vocabulary. This includes an archaic instrumental with the ending -in / -ın ; this form can still be found today in a few words, e.g. B. yazın (in summer, summer), kışın (in winter, winter) gelmeksizin (without coming). In earlier times this case was even more widespread.

    Furthermore, derivatives that are assigned to the word formation elsewhere are also occasionally listed as separate case formations, such as those on -ce / -ca as equative or relative or on -siz / -sız / -suz / -süz as abessive . Contractions with the postposition ile (mit), which occur enclitically in the form -le / -la without the initial i- , are referred to by Korkut Buğday as instrumentalis, but elsewhere as a comitative . The examples given: halk ilehalkla (with the people), eşim ileeşimle (with my partner); after the vowel the -i- changes to -y-, ümidi ileümidiyle (with hope), araba ilearabayla (with the car) are often no answers to the question with what? , but to the question With whom / what? .

    The conjugation of verbs

    In Turkish, all categories of conjugation, namely genus verbi , tense and person , are each expressed by different suffixes to be put together. Only person and number are expressed by the same class of suffixes, so there is only one suffix for the 1st person plural and not one suffix for the 1st person in general and one additional for the plural. An exception to this rule concerns the 3rd person. Here the personal suffix (in the majority of tenses, however, the 3rd person is expressed using the basic form, i.e. without a suffix) in singular and plural, and the plural is represented by the plural suffix -ler / -lar. The plural of the third person is only expressed in the predicate if the sentence does not contain an explicit plural subject, i.e. the subject is inherently contained in the predicate.

    Examples for the 3rd person:
    in the singular:
    Ahmet geliyor - Ahmet is coming. With inherent subject: Geliyor - He is coming. Using the personal pronoun: O geliyor - He is coming.
    in the plural:
    Öğrenci ler geliyor - Students come s . With inherent subject: Geliyor lar - you come s . Using the personal pronoun: Onlar geliyor - you come en .

    There is a lot more to Genera Verbi in Turkish than in German. In addition to the passive, there is a causative , a reflexive and a reciprocal. The suffixes can also be combined.

    for causative: doğmak - are born, doğur-mak - give birth doğurt-mak - release, doğurt-tur-mak - release can
    for Reflexive: sevmek - love sev-in-mek - rejoice , (Combination with causative :) sevin-dir-mek - to delight, (with passive :) sevindir-il-mek - to be delighted
    for reciprocal: öpmek - to kiss, öp-üş-mek - to kiss

    These genera verbi are related to the forms of negation and impossibility: Basic form: gelmek - to come, negative form: gel-me-mek - not to come, impossibility form: gel-eme-mek - to not be able to come.

    In Turkish there is no tense system that is comparable to German or Latin, based on the division into present, perfect and future tense. There is also no mode as a separate category. But the Turkish tenses also have modal or aspect-related meanings, some even have mainly modal meanings. Simple tenses that have a time-related meaning are: (specific) present tense , aorist , (specific) past tense , perfect tense , also called indefinite past tense, and future tense. Other "tenses" include the optative , which has now become rare , the necessitative (necessary form) and the conditional. In contrast to the conditional of the Indo-European languages, the conditional in Turkish does not denote the conditional action (in the main clause), but the conditional action (in the conditional clause) .

    With the exception of the conditional clauses, subordinate clauses are almost exclusively expressed through verbal nouns ( participles and infinitives ) and so-called converges . These can also have their own subject.

    The conjugation of Turkish verbs is based on very fixed principles. The following table shows the simple tenses using the example of gelmek (to come ).

    The conjugation of Turkish verbs (example gelmek)
    Tense Turkish verb stem German equivalent
    Present geliyor * he comes
    Aorist gelir he comes (I expect him; it is a peculiarity of him, among other things)
    Future tense gelecek He will come
    Perfect gelmiş he is there, he has come (I learned that from others)
    preterite geldi he came (I saw him doing it)
    (potential) conditionalis gel should he come
    Necessitive gelmeli he should / must come
    Optional gel he may come (today in the 3rd person replaced by the imperative gelsin)

    *) for -yor- see the note at the end of the following table

    An almost unlimited number of additional tenses can be formed from these basic forms by any number of combinations with auxiliary verbs, the nuanced differences of which are often difficult to reproduce in German. The most common auxiliary verb is the copula sein , which occurs in its own forms only in the past tense ( idi ), in the perfect tense ( imiş ) and in the conditionalis ( ise ) (and as a converb iken ). The forms of the auxiliary verb are adjusted to the modified form, take over the personal suffixes from this and often merge with this to form a word and then align themselves like suffixes according to the vowel harmony: gelmiş idi > gelmişti . For the word bulmak - to find, these forms are bulmuş idi > bulmuştu . The tenses of the copula have e.g. Sometimes a meaning deviating from the tenses of the full verbs and a special kind of negation. A selection of the compound tenses that also have an equivalent in German is listed below.

    Selected compound tenses of Turkish verbs (example gelmek)
    Tense Turkish verb stem German equivalent
    past continuous gelmişti (<gelmiş idi) he had come
    In the future exactly gelmiş olacak he will have come
    Unrealis gelirdi (<gelir idi) he would come, he would come
    unreal conditionality gelseydi (<gelse idi) if he came
    unreal conditionality of the perfect gelmiş olsaydı (<gelmiş olsa idi) if he had come
    real conditionality of the present geliyorsa *, gelirse (<geliyor ise, gelir ise) if he comes
    real conditionalities of the past gelmişse (<gelmiş ise) when he came

    -yor- is not subject to vowel harmony in Ottoman or modern Turkish. It is the remainder of an originally independent word.

    In addition to these forms, there are other tenses, such as paraphrases with the infinitive, which we cannot go into here. There are also other possible combinations with auxiliary verbs.

    For example, the present and past tense of the auxiliary verb ( idi ) can be combined to form the "-iyordu" past, an imperfect tense that reproduces a continuous or continuously represented action in the past: geliyordu ( he came , corresponds roughly to: he was coming in English ) or the aorist with imiş : gelirmiş ( it should come as an expression of an expectation based on communications from others). İmiş is formally a perfect tense, but has no meaning of time, but merely conveys the aspect of hearsay.

    The negative is usually formed with the negative verbal stem (see above). An exception is the aorist, who has its own suffix for the negative form. For example, in the past tense, the negative form of geldi - he came gelmedi - he did not come. In the aorist this is different, the negation of gelir - he is coming (already) is gelmez - he is (definitely) not coming. Other exceptions are the copula, which is negated with değil , and the important word var -vorhanden (to be), which fluctuates between noun and verb , which is used to express possession and property and has its own word for negation with yok .

    There is both a full and a shortened infinitive . The full infinitive ends in -mek or -mak, depending on the vowel harmony. The shortened infinitive ends in -me or -ma ( gelme - coming; gitme - walking; yumurtlama - laying eggs; eskiden kalma - since time immemorial remained ; dogma büyüme - born (and raised); dondurma - ice cream (lit .: frozen); dolma - filled (-e grape leaves / peppers etc.)).

    Personal suffixes

    In Turkish, the personal suffixes are attached directly to the tenses. The endingless tenses of aorist and perfect can also be used adjectivally as participles :

    gelmiş-im (with personal suffix ): I have come (perfect), on the other hand: gelmiş bir tren (as adjective participle): a train that has come

    The personal suffixes can also appear immediately after a noun, regardless of whether it is a noun or an adjective. In this case they take on the meaning of a copula . When choosing the suffixes, attention should be paid to the large vowel harmony.

    Personal suffixes
    after consonants after vowels example
    ben -im, -ım, -üm, -um -yim, -yım, -yüm, -yum İsviçreliyim (I am Swiss)
    sen -sin, -sın, -sün, -sun -sin, -sın, -sün, -sun Türksün (you are a Turk)
    O - - Alman (He / she is German)
    biz -iz- -ız, -üz, -uz -yiz, -yız, -yüz, -yuz yalnızız (we are alone)
    siz -siniz, -sınız, -sünüz, -sunuz -siniz, -sınız, -sünüz, -sunuz üzgünsünüz (you are sad)
    onlar (-ler, -lar) (-ler, -lar) büyükler (they are tall)

    In the third person, the plural suffix is ​​left out if it is not necessary for understanding, for example because the subject is already a plural: Ev ler büyük. (The houses are big.)

    Possessive suffixes and genitive constructions

    The affiliations (possessive connections) are formed in Turkish in such a way that the possessive ending is attached directly to the noun in question. The great vowel harmony is taken into account. If the last letter of the word is a consonant , attention is also paid to its voicing.

    • Example araba (carriage) becomes arabam (my carriage).
    • Example çocuk (child) becomes çocuğum (my child)
    Possessive suffixes
    After consonant After vowel meaning
    benim -im, -ım, -üm, -um -m my
    senine -in, -ın, -ün -un -n your
    onun -i / -ı / -ü / -u -si / -sı / -sü / -su be
    bizim -imiz, -ımız, -ümüz, -umuz -miz, -mız, -müz, -muz our
    sicin -iniz, -ınız, -ünüz, -unuz -niz, -nız, -nüz, -nuz your
    onların -i, -ı, -ü, -u -si, -sı, -sü, -su her

    The possessive suffixes play an important role in the formation of genitive constructions. The genitive expresses that another thing or person belongs to the person or thing that is in the genitive. This genitive noun or pronoun is prepended, and the word denoting the person or thing that is associated with it takes the appropriate possessive suffix.

    Examples with emphasis on the genitive and possessive suffix:

    Noun / pronoun in the genitive associated noun meaning
    - ( missing genitive ) ev im (my house) my house
    ben im (mine, from me) ev im (my house) my house (not yours, stressed)
    - ( missing genitive ) ev i (his house) his house
    o now (his, of him) ev i (his house) his house (not yours or mine, stressed)
    bu now (of, of this) ev i (his house) the house of this man / woman / of this / of this
    müdür ün (the director) ev i (his house) the director's house

    Formation of terms through noun combinations

    If the genitive suffix is ​​dropped, the noun in question loses its individuality and becomes a type. The third person possessive suffix (- (s) i / ı / ü / u) then links two nouns to a new term.

    Noun 1 Noun 2 Genitive connection new term
    iş (work, business) yer (place) işin yeri (the place of the, i.e. a very specific business) iş yeri (workplace)
    akşam (evening) yemek (food) (bu) akşamın yemeği (the meal that evening) akşam yemeği (dinner)
    metro (subway) bilet (ticket) metronun bileti (ticket for the subway, not the ticket for the plane) metro bileti (subway ticket)
    ev (house) kapı (door) evin kapısı (the door of the house, i.e. an individualized house) ev kapısı (front door)

    Grammar examples for combining the suffixes

    The order in which the suffixes used are appended to nouns is strictly defined. The plural suffix is ​​appended first, followed by the possessive suffix, the case suffix and finally a personal suffix:

    Turkish German
    possibly House
    evde in the house, at home
    evler Houses
    evleriniz your houses, at Siezen : your houses
    evlerinizde in your houses or in your houses
    evlerinizdeyiz We are in your houses or we are in your houses

    Conjugation of verbs in the present tense

    The Turkish present tense has the same meaning as the German present tense . The special thing about it is that it is conjugated exactly the same for every verb and knows no exceptions.

    Formation rule: Verb stem (+ connecting vowel corresponding to the large vowel harmony) + -yor + personal suffix -um / -sun / - / - uz / -sunuz / -lar

    Example gülmek (laugh):

    1. Verb stem gül
    2. The connecting vowel ü : gülü is attached to the trunk
    3. Append -yor: gülüyor (he / she / it laughs)

    Example uyumak (to sleep):

    1. Verb stem uyu
    2. Because of the vowel stem end, no connecting vowel is necessary
    3. Append -yor: uyuyor (he / she / it is sleeping)

    Example aramak (search):

    1. Verb stem ara
    2. For reasons of well-being, a final vowel that is not subject to the great vowel harmony, such as the a, is replaced by a matching connecting vowel (here ı ): arı
    3. Attach -yor: arıyor (he / she / it is looking for)
    Conjugation of the - (i) yor present tense (examples)
    verb Ben Sen O Biz Siz Onlar
    aramak (search) arıyorum arıyorsun arıyor arıyoruz arıyorsunuz arıyorlar
    olmak (to be, to become) oluyorum oluyorsun oluyor oluyoruz oluyorsunuz oluyorlar
    gitmek (to go) gidiyorum gidiyorsun gidiyor gidiyoruz gidiyorsunuz gidiyorlar

    Conjugation of verbs in the past

    The “di-past” has the same function as the perfect tense or the imperfect tense in German and is used in completed actions.

    Formation rule: verb stem + -di / -dı / -dü / -du + personal suffix -m / -n / - / - k / -niz / -ler.

    Example gitmek (go)

    1. Verb stem git
    2. Attaching di and adaptation to voiceless consonants t : gitti (he / she / it was / is gone)
    Conjugation of the -di-past (examples)
    verb Ben Sen O Biz Siz Onlar
    Aramak (search) aradım aradın aradı aradık aradınız aradılar
    Olmak (to be, to become) oldum oldun oldu olduk oldunuz oldular
    Gitmek (go) gittim gittin gitti gittik gittiniz gittiler
    Düşürmek (to drop) düşürdüm düşürdün düşürdü düşürdük düşürdünüz düşürduler

    The formation of terms from word stems

    Turkish German
    göz eye
    gözlük glasses
    gözlükçü Opticians, glasses salesmen
    gözlükçülük the business of selling glasses,
    the profession of optician

    Large and lower case

    In Turkish, sentence beginnings, proper names , titles, surnames and salutations are capitalized. Language, religion, ethnic, tribal and clan affiliation also appear in capital letters. There are also numerous special rules.


    The trunk of original Turkish words was kept as small as possible in the literary language of the Ottoman Empire in favor of loan words from Persian (art, culture and way of life) and Arabic (religion) and was considered rural. This began to change increasingly in the second half of the 19th century and culminated in the Kemalist language reform of the 1930s. Not all of these loan words could be replaced in modern Turkish by old Turkish words or by new Turkish creations. The extent to which these loanwords are used and understandable depends on the group of users and the audience.

    Languages ​​and number of loan words

    The latest edition of the Büyük Türkçe Sözlük (“Great Turkish Dictionary”), the official dictionary of the Turkish language, published by the Institute for the Turkish Language Türk Dil Kurumu , contains 616,767 words, expressions, terms and nouns.

    Although many Arabic and Persian words were replaced by Turkish during the Kemalist language reform, the Arabic language provides many loan words in addition to French. Many of the loan and foreign words of Arabic origin are borrowed from Persian.

    The following statistics based on a Turkish dictionary from 2005 cover all words in the written language.

    A total of 14.18% (14,816 out of 104,481) of words in Turkish are loanwords. Loan words come from the following languages ​​(ranking according to the number of words):

    Origin of the Turkish vocabulary
    language Borrowings Explanation
    Arabic 6463 often borrowed via the Persian language
    French 4974
    Persian 1374 without Arabic loanwords
    Italian 632
    English 538
    Greek 399
    Latin 147
    German 85
    Russian 40
    Spanish 36
    Slavic 24
    Armenian 23
    Hungarian 19th
    Ancient Greek 14th
    Mongolian 13
    Hebrew 9
    Bulgarian 8th
    Japanese 7th
    Portuguese 4th
    Norwegian 2
    Finnish 2
    Albanian 1
    Korean 1
    Sogdian 1

    In 1973, the scientist Kâmile İmer examined the use of words in the press on the basis of five Turkish daily newspapers (Ulus, Akşam , Cumhuriyet , Milliyet and Hürriyet ), where the strongly changing linguistic proportion of loanwords becomes evident:

    year Turkish Arabic Persian Ottoman other
    1931 35.0% 51.0% 2.0% 6.0% 6.0%
    1933 44.0% 45.0% 2.0% 5.0% 4.0%
    1936 48.0% 39.0% 3.0% 5.0% 5.0%
    1941 48.0% 40.0% 3.0% 5.0% 4.0%
    1946 57.0% 28.0% 3.0% 5.0% 7.0%
    1951 51.0% 35.0% 3.0% 5.0% 6.0%
    1956 51.0% 35.5% 2.0% 4.0% 7.5%
    1961 56.0% 30.5% 3.0% 4.5% 6.0%
    1965 60.5% 26.0% 1.0% 4.0% 8.5%
    Kuaför - hairdresser

    Some examples of loan words from other languages:

    • from Arabic: fikir (idea), hediye (gift), resim (picture), insan (person), saat (clock, hour), asker (soldier), vatan (fatherland), ırk (race), millet (nation) , memleket (country), devlet (state), halk (people), hain (traitor), kurban (victim), şehit (fallen), beynelmilel (international), maalesef (unfortunately), nane (peppermint), kitap (book) , kalp (heart), Dünya (world), ticaret (trade), aşk (love), hürriyet (freedom),
    • from Persian: tahta (wood), pazar (market), pencere (window), şehir (city), hafta (week), ateş (fire), rüzgâr (wind), ayna (mirror), can (soul), dert (Grief), hoş (well), düşman (enemy), kahraman (hero), köy (village)
    • from French: lüks (luxury), kuzen (cousin), pantolon (trousers), kuaför (hairdresser), küvet (bathtub), lavabo (sink), hoparlör (loudspeaker), kamyon (truck), sürpriz (surprise), sezaryen (Caesarean section), gişe (counter), asansör (elevator), stüdyo (studio), bilet (ticket), banliyö (suburb), sosis (sausage), tren (train)
    • from English: tişört (t-shirt), futbol (football), spiker (news anchor), rakun (raccoon)
    • from Greek: liman (port), kutu (box), banyo (bath), manav (greengrocer)
    • from German: şalter ([light] switch), şinitsel (schnitzel), Aysberg (iceberg), otoban (motorway), fön (hair dryer), kramp (cramp),
    • from Italian: fatura (invoice), banka (bank), palyaço (clown), sigorta (insurance), fırtına (storm, < fortuna (mala) )

    Turkish words in other languages

    Number of Turkish words in other languages:

    language Borrowings
    Serbian 8965
    Armenian 4260
    Bulgarian 3490
    Greek 2984
    Persian 2969
    Romanian 2780
    Albanian 2622
    Russian 2476
    Arabic 1990
    Hungarian 1982
    Ukrainian 800
    English 470
    Chinese 289
    Czech 248
    Urdu 227
    German 166
    Italian 146
    Finnish 110

    Example words with Turkish origin:

    • cacık (yogurt dish ); Greek: Tsatsiki
    • çaprak ( saddlecloth ); German saddle pad
    • duman (smoke); Russian: tuman (fog)
    • havyar (caviar); German: caviar
    • ordu (army); English, French: horde , German: Horde
    • yoğurt (yogurt); English: yoghurt , French: yaourt , German: yoghurt

    See also

    Turkish literature


    • Geoffrey Lewis: The Turkish Language Reform. A Catastrophic Success . Oxford University Press, Oxford 2002, ISBN 0-19-925669-1 .



    • Karl Steuerwald: German-Turkish Dictionary . 2nd Edition. Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1987, ISBN 3-447-01584-5 .
    • Karl Steuerwald: Turkish-German Dictionary . 2nd Edition. Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1988, ISBN 3-447-02804-1 .

    Borrowings from Turkish in other languages

    • Karl-Heinz Best: Turzisms in German. In: Glottometrics. 11, 2005, pp. 56-63.

    Borrowings in Turkish

    • Ayfer Aktaş: Words adopted from German into Turkish in Turkish dictionaries - an inventory. In: mother tongue. 118, 2008, pp. 72–80 (The article gives an overview of borrowings from all languages, not just from German.)
    • Karl-Heinz Best: Diversification of foreign and loan words in Turkish. In: Archives Orientální. 73, 2005, pp. 291-298.
    • Karl-Heinz Best: The spectrum of foreign words in Turkish. In: Glottometrics. 17, pp. 8-11.
    • Musa Yaşar Sağlam: loan words in Turkish. In: mother tongue. 114, 2004, pp. 115-122.
    • Musa Yaşar Sağlam: A lexicological study of the vocabulary of the monolingual Turkish dictionary TÜRKÇE SÖZLÜK from 1945. (PDF; 76 kB) In: Hacettepe Üniversitesi Edebiyat Fakanschesi Dergisi. Vol. 20 No. 1, Ankara 2003, pp. 85-94.

    Web links

    Wiktionary: Turkish  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
    Wiktionary: Turkish  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
    Wikibooks: Turkish  - learning and teaching materials

    Individual evidence

    1. Margarete I. Ersen-Rasch: Turkish grammar: for beginners and advanced learners. S. 1 books.google.de .
    2. ^ Lars Johanson, Éva Csató: Turkish. In: Lars Johanson, Éva Csató: The Turkic languages. P. 203.
    3. Annemarie von Gabain : The Southwest Dialects of Turkish. In: Handbook of Oriental Studies, First Section: The Near and Middle East, Fifth Volume: Alta Studies, First Section: Turkology. EJ Brill, Leiden / Cologne 1963, p. 174. (Note: Southwestern dialects of Turkish are understood in the cited work as Turkish, Azerbaijani, Turkmen, etc., i.e. the Turkic languages ​​of the Southwestern group, also known as Oghusian languages )
    4. ^ G. Hazai: Article Turks , Section II.i Languages ​​- Introduction. In: Encyclopaedia of Islam . Volume X, TU, Brill, Leiden, 2000, p. 701: “ […] The use of the term Turkic for the entire language family, while reserving the term Turkish for the idiom spoken in the area occupied by the Ottoman Empire […] ] and Turkey, is a contemporary development […] ”.
    5. according to Ethnologue .
    6. devplan.org (PDF).
    7. ethnologue.com .
    8. a b Celia Kerslake: Ottoman Turkish. In: Lars Johanson, Éva Csató: The Turkic languages. P. 179 f.
    9. Korkut Buğday: Ottoman , p xvii
    10. Klaus Kreiser, Christoph K. Neumann: Small history of Turkey. P. 52 f.
    11. ^ Website of the Türk Dil Kurumu
    12. Lewis (2001): 3-4.6.
    13. Annemarie von Gabain: The Southwest Dialects of Turkish. In: Berthold Spuler (Ed.): Turkologie. (Handbook of Oriental Studies, First Division: The Near and Middle East, Volume 5: Altaic Studies, Section 1). EJ Brill, Leiden 1960, p. 175
    14. ^ Margarete I. Ersen-Rasch: Turkish grammar. 2nd Edition. 2004, ISBN 3-19-005185-2 , pp. 24-28.
    15. ^ A b Ludwig Peters: Grammar of the Turkish language. Axel Juncker Verlag, Berlin 1947, p. 27
    16. Annemarie von Gabain: The Southwest Dialects of Turkish. In: Berthold Spuler (Ed.): Handbook of Oriental Studies, First Section: The Near and Middle East, Fifth Volume: Alta Studies, First Section: Turkology. Brill, Leiden 1960, p. 188
    17. Korkut Buğday: Ottoman. P. 34.
    18. Korkut Buğday: Ottoman. P. 36.
    19. Margarete I. Ersen-Rasch, Turkish Grammar, p. 138.
    20. Margarete I. Ersen-Rasch, Turkish Grammar, p. 132 f.
    21. Korkut Buğday: Ottoman. P. 39.
    22. The rules of the Turkish language society for capitalization
    23. ^ Stephan Guth: The main languages ​​of the Islamic world structures, history, literatures Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden 2012, ISBN 978-3-447-06786-7 , pp. 84–86
    24. Büyük Türkçe Sözlük Turkish Language Association: "Büyük Türkçe Sözlük'te söz, deyim, terim ve ad olmak üzere toplam 616.767 söz varlığı bulunmaktadır."
    25. Source on the number of loanwords in Turkish ( Memento from August 12, 2006 in the Internet Archive ); Source on languages ​​and number of loanwords ( memento of September 2, 2006 in the Internet Archive )
    26. without Arabic loanwords
    27. ^ Lewis, Geoffrey: The Turkish Language Reform. A Catastrophic Success. Oxford University Press, 2002.
    28. Source for the number of Turkish words in other languages: zaman.com.tr ( Memento of the original from November 15, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (Turkish) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.zaman.com.tr
    29. Source on the number of Turkish words in other languages: arsiv.sabah.com.tr (Turkish)