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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: The Turkish Language

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Hello everyone. Welcome to the Langfocus channel and my name is Paul.

Today I'm going to talk about the Turkish language

Now, right off the bat, the first thing I want to say is that there is a Turkish language.

Because Turkey is situated at the edge of the Middle East, some people think that Turkey is an Arabic country

but it is not an Arabic country, the language of Turkey is Turkish.

Although there is a small Arabic-speaking minority in Turkey.

There are around 75 million native speakers of Turkish that includes 10 to 15 million people in Southeastern Europe.

That's mainly in the part of Turkey that's located in Europe but also as a minority language in the Balkan area.

And it includes 60 to 65 million people in Anatolia that's the part of Turkey that's located inside of Asia.

Now those numbers are for Turkish.

But there are other languages inside the Turkic language family that have a relatively high degree of mutual intelligibility

and some people consider those languages to be dialects of Turkish.

So, if we include those, the number might be as high as 109 million people.

But let's back up and look at the classification of Turkish.

Because Turkey is located partly inside of Europe, you might have thought that Turkish is an Indo-European language or a Slavic language.

and because part of Turkey is located on the edge of the Middle East, you might have thought that Turkish is a Semitic language.

But it is none of the above.

The Turkic language family is a separate family unto itself

The Turkic languages are sometimes thought to be a part of a larger language family called the Altaïc language family

which includes some other language groups like the Mongolic language family, the Japonic and the Koreanic language family amongst others.

but this is not a generally accepted theory by linguists. It tends to be debated and these days it seems to be fairly discredited

Turkish is part of the Oghuz branch of the Turkic language family.

It also includes Azerbaijani which is sometimes called a Azeri Turkish,

as well as Turkmen as well as some other languages like Qashqai which is spoken in some parts of Iran.

The languages of the Oghuz branch are all mutually intelligible to some extent and these are the languages that are sometimes considered to be dialects of Turkish.

Azeri Turkish is spoken in Azerbaijan as well as parts of Iran, Iraq, Dagestan and Georgia and it has 26 million native speakers.

Turkmen has 8 million native speakers including: 3.5 million in Turkmenistan, 2 million in northwestern Iran and 1.5 million in northwestern Afghanistan

All Turkic languages descended from a theoretical language called Proto-Turkish.

The Turkic peoples originated in Central Asia and through migration they expanded over a wide area

extending all the way from Siberia down through China and Central Asia, through the Middle East, up into the Balkan area and even north of the Black Sea.

Oghuz Turkic, the ancestor language of modern-day Turkish language as well as all the languages of the Oghuz branch

was brought to Anatolia by the Seljuk Empire, a Turkic Empire in the 11th century CE.

The Seljuk Empire had previously adopted Islam and they were admirers of Persian culture

and they were influenced by the Persian language and the Arabic language.

Persian became the administrative and literary language while Arabic was used for religious purposes.

But Turkish was still spoken by the average common people.

Later when the Ottoman Empire arose in place of the Seljuk Empire, the official language would be a form of Turkish that was highly influenced by Persian and Arabic.

This form of Turkish became known as Ottoman Turkish

Ottoman Turkish was based on Turkish grammar but with some influence from Persian and Arabic grammar,

but it was the vocabulary that was most influenced by Persian and Arabic.

Sometimes up to 88% of the vocabulary used was Persian and Arabic.

This was the language of the elite people, not the language of the common people

which had much less foreign influence, although it did still have some foreign influence.

When the modern republic of turkey was founded in 1923,

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk created the Turkish Language Association to initiate a reform of the Turkish language.

He essentially got rid of that administrative language, Ottoman Turkish, and he replaced it with a new standard language,

based on the everyday common language spoken in Istanbul.

And effort was made to replace Persian and Arabic words with native Turkish words.

Sometimes, those were archaic Turkish words that were brought back to life and sometimes they were newly created Turkish words taken from Turkish roots.

Another big changes that Turkish was switched from the Arabic alphabet, the Arabic writing system,

to a modified latin alphabet which was much more suitable for reading and writing Turkish.

Arabic has only 3 short vowels and 3 long vowels, while the Turkish language has 8 vowels.

That created a lot of confusion in reading and writing in Turkish and the literacy rates had always been very low.

But after switching to the Latin alphabet, the literacy rate skyrocketed.

but the common people haven't always accepted the suggestions by the Turkish Language Association,

so some of those foreign loanwords in Turkish still exists alongside native Turkish words.

Sometimes there are two words for the same thing, one Turkish and one Persian or Arabic.

And they might have the same meaning but just they're used in a slightly different way or have a slightly different sense to the meaning.

Before, I mentioned the Azeri language as well as the Turkmen language which are sometimes considered dialects of Turkish

but they are actually more similar to the Turkish that was spoken before the Atatürk reform of the Turkish language.

That is to say that they use more Persian and Arabic loanwords than the modern-day standard Turkish of Turkey uses.

And also Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan were under the control of the USSR for a long time. So there are also some Russian loanwords.

And from what I understand, there are a lot of funny misunderstandings between the different varieties of Turkish.

Azerbaijani or Azeri Turkish was always referred to as Turkish until the Soviet Union controlled Azerbaijan.

And they changed the name of that language as a way of trying to create an identity for those people that was separate from the people in Turkey

That was another "divide and conquer" tactic.

Just from reading some comments around the internet, the level of intelligibility between standard Turkish and Azeri Turkish varies from 60% to 90%.

But even for the people who understand less of it, it seems that they get used to it quite quickly

and it's simply a matter of familiarity and a little bit of adjustment.

For example, one guy brought in his comment that, if a Turkish person takes an airplane to Azerbaijan,

maybe, in the morning, he won't really understand very well, but by the afternoon he will be completely fluent.

And, if that is the case, then I would definitely say that those are just two dialects of the same language.

So let's look at some features of the Turkish language.

Turkish is an agglutinative language.

Agglutinative means that the words are comprised of pieces that all add to the meaning of the word.

So, whereas in English, you might express something with a few words,

in Turkish, that might just be one word or it might be fewer words because

instead of using an extra word, you just add an extra piece to the word you're already using.

That means you can sometimes get some surprisingly long words in Turkish.

Let's look at an example of agluttination.

So you can see that if we add a piece to the end of the word, we're adding to the meaning of the word.

This way of attaching suffixes to the end of a word is also used to make plural forms, possessive forms and to show grammatical case for nouns.

Let's look at an example for the plural form

Let's look at another example, with possession this time.

Let's look at an example of the grammatical cases in Turkish.

There are six grammatical cases in Turkish.

And again, if you don't know what a grammatical case is, that means that the form of the noun changes depending on its function in the sentence.

The word we're using is "tree"

So you can see that the form of that noun changes depending on what function it fulfills in that sentence.

How hard is Turkish to learn?

Well, that depends on your native language.

If your native language is an agglutinative language or if you know another agglutinative language,

then Turkish might seem more familiar to you.

But if you have never spoken a language like that before, you might have to get used to a whole new way of thinking.

But the good news is that Turkish grammar is very systematic and very consistent

And so is the writing system. Turkish is almost entirely a phonetic language.

That means that for each sound, there is one letter. So when you read a word, you know how to pronounce it

And, when you know how to say a word, you know how to write it.

And, as always, if you're deeply fascinated with the culture, then it doesn't matter if the language is challenging,

because you'll be motivated enough to get past those challenges and you'll enjoy it every step of the way.

So, if you happen to be very interested in Turkey or in Azerbaijan or Turkmenistan

or other places where Turkish is spoken, then don't hesitate to start learning the Turkish language.

Thank you for watching the Langfocus channel.

What should the question of the day be? I can't... decide between a couple so i'll give you two choices.

So people who speak Turkish or have studied Turkish, do you think that Azeri Turkish and Turkmen are the same language? Dialects of the same language?

How well do you understand each other?

And another question that I'm curious about: Turkish people, if you try to read Ottoman Turkish from that period,

How well do you understand it? Are there too many loanwords, too much Persian and Arabic for you to understand?

Or is a close enough that you can understand it?

Let us know in the comments down below.

Everyone else, comment as you wish. Have a nice stay

The Description of The Turkish Language