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Following up on the "vowel harmony" guess, here are some glimpses of
Turkish grammar (from an elementary textbook I borrowed from my
s (as in "sit")
S (s-cedilla; as "sh" in "shoe")
ç (c-cedilla; as "ch" in "church")
g (as in "go")
j (as "s" in "measure")
c (as "j" in "jump")
h (as in "head")
r (as in "rock")
y (as in "yellow")
G (g-hachek, some sort of y/w glide)
front vowels back vowels
e (as in "fed") a (as "u" in "sun")
i (as in "bit") I (second sound in "nation")
ö (as "eu" in French "peu") o (as in "falsetto")
ü (as in German "über") u (as in "pull")
(The sound descriptions are as taken from the book, don't complain to me...)
The vowels used in the suffixes are determined by the last vowel of
the modified word, according to the following table:
Last vowel "V4"-harmonic "V2"-harmonic "V24"-harmonic
e i e i
i i e i
ö ü e i
ü ü e i
a I a I
I I a I
o u a I
u u a I
Some suffixes use the appropriate "V2" harmonic vowel, some use the
"V4" harmonic. Some suffixes may have two vowels, V4 and/or V2.
Generally speaking, the first suffix harmonizes with the last vowel
of the stem; and each additional suffix harmonizes with the last
vowel of the preceding suffix.
(Certain suffixes may be thought of as composites of a V2-suffix and a
V4-suffix, the latter harmonizing with the formar. In that case, the
V4 is related indirectly to the word's last vowel according to the
In any case, harmonics have the same front/back quality as
the stem vowel.
A "t" at the beginning of a suffix will usually mutate into "d" when
the suffix is appended to a word that ends with vowel or voiced
consonant. Similarly, a "t" at the end of a word will usually mutate
to "d" when the word gets modified by a suffix that starts with a
The same voiced/unvoiced alternation rules apply to the consonant
pair "ç" (pronounced as "ch" in "church") and "c" (pronounced as "j"
in "jump"); and to the pair "p" and "b" (both pronounced as in
Turkish generally avoids vowel-vowel sequences; thus, a suffix that
nominally begins with a vowel will gain an extra "buffer" consonant
("y", "n", "s", depending on the suffix), or lose the vowel,
when it is attached to a word that already ends with vowel.
There are a few other changes that are confined to specific suffixes
and/or specific stems. For example, a "k" at the end of a polysyllabic
stem often mutates to "G" (hacheck-g, pronounced as some sort of y/w glide).
The verb "to be":
The verb "to be" is indicated by suffixes:
1st person sing -(y)V4m
2nd person sing -sV4n
3rd person sing(*) -tV4r | -dV4n
1st person plur -(y)V4z
2nd person plur -sV4nV4z
3rd person plur(*) -tV4rlV2z | -dV4rlV2z
(*) For the 3rd person cases, the verb suffix is often omitted.
1st person sing -tV4m | -dV4m
2nd person sing -tV4n | -dV4n
3rd person sing -tV4 | -dV4
1st person plur -tV4k | -dV4k
2nd person plur -tV4nV4z | -dV4nV4z
3rd person plur -tV4lV2r | -dV4lV2r
"We are X" = Xiz, Xüz, XIz, Xuz,
Xyiz, Xyüz, XyIz, Xyuz
depending on X's last vowel, and on whether X ends with a
vowel or not.
talebe = student talebeyiz = we are students
genç = young gençiz = we are young
"I was X " = Xtim, Xtüm, XtIm, Xtum,
Xdim, Xdüm, XdIm, Xdum
"They were X " = Xtiler, Xtüler, XtIlar, Xtular,
Xdiler, Xdüler, XdIlar, Xdular
depending on the last vowel of X, and on whether it ends
with a voiced sound or not:
The plural of nouns is indicated by the suffix -lV2r
ev = house evler = houses
fil = elephant filler = elephants
top = ball toplar = balls
pul = stamp pullar = stamps
There no definite article. The indefinite article
is "bir" = "a, one"; but it is not mandatory.
There is no special mark for the subject.
A direct object is marked with the suffix -(y)V4
only if it is definite:
gece = the night(SUBJ), a night geceyi = the night(OBJ)
ev = the house(SUBJ), a house evi = the house(OBJ)
evler = the houses(SUBJ), houses evleri = the houses(OBJ)
Dative, locative, ablative:
The cases usually expressed in English with prepositions "to",
"at/in", "from" are indicated by the following suffixes
locative: -tV2 | -dV2
ablative: -tV2n | -dV2n
ev = house aGaç = tree
eve = to the house aGaça = to the tree
evte = at/in the house aGaçta = at/in the tree
evten = from the house aGaçtan = from the tree
evlere = to the houses aGaçlara = to the trees
evlerde = at/in the houses aGaçlarda = at/in the trees
evlerden = from the houses aGaçlardan = from the trees
The English phrase "X's Y" can be written in Turkish in
X Y-(s)V4 if X is singular indefinite
X Y-lV2rV24 if X is plural indefinite
X-(n)V4n Y-(s)V4 if X is singular definite
X-(n)V4n Y-lV2rV24 if X is plural definite
So, from "çocuk" = "child" and "bahçe" = "garden", we get
çocuk bahçesi = child-garden (= kindergarten)
çocuk bahçeleri = children-garden OR child-gardens OR ...
çocuGun bahçesi = garden of the child
çocuGun bahçeleri = gardens of the child
çocuklarIn bahçeleri = gardens of the children
Other suffixes are used to indicate "my", "your", "ours":
X-(V4)m "my X"
X-(V4)n "your X" (for sing. "you")
X-(V4)mV4z "our X"
X-(V4)nV4z "your X" (for plural "you")
So from "bahçe" one gets "bahçem" = "my garden", "bahçemez" = "our garden",
"bahçelerenez" = "your gardens", etc.
Well, I am throwing the towel here. 8-) Verbs are conjugated by
adding suffixes, of course. Besides time and person, the suffixes
may indicate conditional aspect, passive voice, causation,
reflexivity, attending circumstance, degree of confidence by the
speaker, etc. etc.
This sumamry is over-hyper-simplified, and may contains all sorts
This is *modern* Turkish, of course. I have no idea how much todays
language differs from that spoken/written in the 15th
Note that Turks used the Arabic alphabet until the 1920's or so.
For whatever it is worth...
All the best,