Notes on the Turkish language

The late Mufti Shamim Baggia (may Allah Almighty have mercy upon him) advised me to learn Turkish as he said that there is significant knowledge stored in the language. I presume he was advising about Ottoman Turkish which was in use before the collapse of the khilafat rather than Modern Turkish which is prevalent nowadays.

The Turkish language has gone through significant changes in the last century through the reform of Mustafa Kamal. He had the Arabic script changed to Latin and ordered that the loan words be reduced and changed to native Turkish.

General rule: All the letters have only one sound. All letters are pronounced; there are no silent letters except ğ which is almost silent.

Vowels: The vowels are the same as those in English - a, e, i, o, u. Except there are few additional vowels:
- ı (undotted)
- ö (accented)
- ü (accented)

Consonants: The consonants are the as those in English except q, x and z which are omitted.
- c is pronounced ج or j in jam e.g. cami is pronounced jami or جامع
- ç is pronounced چ or ch in church e.g. çeşme is pronounced cheshme or چشمے
- g is pronounced گ or g
- ğ is almost silent and prolongs the vowel before it.
- s is pronounced س or s in sit and never as a z.
- ş is pronounced ش or sh in shark e.g. çeşme is pronounced cheshme or چشمے‎

Grammar: a simple Turkish sentence follows the order of subject-object-verb.

Vocabulary: Around 15% of the Modern Turkish vocabulary are loanwords with Arabic, Persian, French, Italian, English and Greek being the most significant contributors. I would imagine that the pre-reform era had more Arabic and Persian words which would have made it easier to understand for an Arabic speaker. For example, the salah times are called sabah, öğle, ikindi, akşam, and yatsı which represents Fajr, Zuhar, Asar, Maghrib, and Isha respectively. Imsak means dawn whilst güneş is Ishraq.

The Turkish language extensively uses agglutination to form new words which is to string multiple words without changing the spelling. For example, göz is eye, lük is glass, çü is doer so gözlük will be spectacles and gözlükçü will be an optician.


Muhammad Saifur Rahman
10 Jumada I 1436
19 February 2016

Date (AH): 
Date (CE): 
Friday, February 19, 2016
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