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Turkish is a very ancient language going back 5500 to 8500 years. It has a phonetic, morphological and syntactic structure, and at the same time it possesses a rich vocabulary. The fundamental features, which distinguish the Ural-Altaic languages from the Indo-European, are as follows:

1. Vowel harmony, a feature of all Ural-Altaic tongues.

2. The absence of gender.

3. Agglutination.

4. Adjectives precede nouns.

5. Verbs come at the end of the sentence.

The history of the language is divided into three main groups, old Turkish (from the 7th to the 13th centuries), mid-Turkish (from the 13th to the 20th) and new Turkish from the 20th century onwards. During the Ottoman Empire period Arabic and Persian words invaded the Turkish language and it consequently became mixed with three different languages. During the Ottoman period which spanned five centuries, the natural development of Turkish was severely hampered. Turkish formed the basis for Ottoman Turkish, the written language of the Ottoman Empire. Ottoman Turkish was basically Turkish in structure, but with a heavy overlay of Arabic and Persian vocabulary and an occasional grammatical influence. Ottoman Turkish, and the spoken language were both represented with an Arabic script.

Then there was the "new language" movement started by Kemal Atatürk. In 1928, five years after the proclamation of the Republic, the Arabic alphabet was replaced by the Latin one, which in turn speeded up the movement to rid the language of foreign words. Prior to the reform that introduced the Roman script, Turkish was written in the Arabic script. Up to the fifteenth century the Anatolian Turks used the Uighur script to write Turkish. The Turkish Language Institute (Turk Dil Kurumu) was established in 1932 to carry out linguistic research and contribute to the natural development of the language. As a consequence of these efforts, modern Turkish is a literary and cultural language developing naturally and free of foreign influences. Today literacy rates in Turkey are over 90%.

Like all of the Turkic languages, Turkish is agglutinative, that is, grammatical functions are indicated by adding various suffixes to stems. Separate suffixes on nouns indicate both gender and number, but there is no grammatical gender. Nouns are declined in three declensions with six case endings: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, locative, and ablative; number is marked by a plural suffix. Verbs agree with their subjects in case and number, and, as in nouns, separate identifiable suffixes perform these functions. The order of elements in a verb form is: verb stem + tense aspect marker + subject affix. There is no definite article; the number "one" may be used as an indefinite article.

Subject-Object-Verb word order in Turkish is a typical Turkic characteristic, but other orders are possible under certain discourse situations. As a SOV language where objects precede the verb, Turkish has postpositions rather than prepositions, and relative clauses that precede the verb.

Turkish has 8 vowels, and 21 consonants. It also has Turkic vowel harmony in which the vowels of suffixes must harmonize with the vowels of noun and verb stems; thus, for example, if the stem has a round vowel then the vowel of the suffix must be round, and so on. Stress on words pronounced in isolation is on the final syllable, but in discourse, stress assignment is complicated especially in the verb.

With over 70 million native speakers in Turkey alone, Turkish is a very popular language amongst tourists, culture enthusiasts and those who have family connections with Turkey.

According to British Council’s “Languages for the Future” report, Turkish is one of the Top 10 Languages of the United Kingdom. 

Do not delay your decision to start learning Turkish. Contact us today to get more information on what we offer.

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