8 Essential Things That You Should Know About the Turkish Alphabet

Learning the Turkish alphabet is one of the first steps you take if you want to learn Turkish. But what do you get by learning the alphabet?

First of all, if you learn the Turkish alphabet well at the beginning, you’ll be able to recognize the sounds in Turkish, especially distinct sounds that don’t exist in other alphabets.

Also you’ll be learning some history about the Turkish alphabet here (very shortly). This knowledge will also give you a glimpse of history. It’s interesting because in the past Turks have used numerous different scripts and alphabets.

So, let’s begin!

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The Turkish alphabet consists of 29 letters, six of which (Ü, İ, Ö, Ç, Ğ, Ş) do not exist in the English alphabet. Conversely, three letters that exist in the English alphabet (Q, X, W) do not exist in the Turkish alphabet. If you want to hear the distinct sounds, please watch the Alphabet video.

Since Turkish does not have diphthongs, it is easy to pronounciate letters correctly. Every letter has one distinct sound which is pronounced separately from the neighboring letters. None of the neighboring letters affect each other!

Lower and Uppercase letters in the Turkish Alphabet

This list shows you the Turkish alphabet pronunciations. Try to exercise.

Uppercase Lowercase Example
A a as in father
B b as in below
C c as in jar
Ç ç as in CHallange
D d as in dark
E e as in bed
F f as in friend
G g as in grind
Ğ ğ this letter lengthens the preceding vowel*
H h as in has
I ı as in opEN
İ i as in meet
J j as in measure
K k as in cop
L l as in length
M m as in measure
N n as in nice
O o as in pore
Ö ö German ö
P p as in piece
R r as in rice
S s as in sick
Ş ş as in SHade
T t as in tip
U u as in lOO
Ü ü as in new
V v as in vertical
Y y as in yes
Z z as in zodiac

 

Some history about Turkish Alphabet

Many different scripts have been used by Turks throughout the history. Göktürk ( Orhun ), Uygur, Arabic, and Kiril are some of the old alphabets that the turkish have used. Latin is the current!

In the Ottoman Era, Arabic script was used, which is an alphabet rich in consonants. (The Turkish Language is just the opposite, having 8 vowels)

In 1928, shortly after the downfall of the Ottoman Empire, the Latin alphabet has come into use.

Before Arabic script, Göktürk (Orhun) alphabet was used until the 11th century by Turks. This ancient alphabet is said to be the most suitable for the sounds in the Turkish Language. (Words were written from right to left similarly to the Arabic script. )

For example, old Turkish steles (Orkhon inscriptions) are written in Göktürk alphabet around the 8th century. These steles mention about the extent of the Turkish empire.

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Anyways, let’s go on with the current Turkish alphabet:

1. Soft g (Yumuşak g) generally lengthens the previous letter.

e.g. “Kağnı” (eng. tumbrel) may be heard as “kaanı” or “dimağ” (eng. mind, brain) is often heard as “dimaa”

2. Letters with the circumflex accent have a similar pronunciation with a soft g but with exceptions.

3. At the end of the letter, intervocalic k is transformed into ğ. Alternations of consonants will be covered in details.

Kapak
lid

Kapak+ı < kapağı

Kapağı verebilir misin?
Can you give me the lid?

4. L has two different sounds in Turkish. One is l as in “layer”, the other as in “cool”

5. In some dialects in Anatolia, k is pronounced as g. “Kapı” (eng. door) can be heard as “gapı” However, this is very informal and not recommended.

6. “Y” is a little bit different than English “y”. For example, how you pronunciate the word “copia” in Spanish is very similar to Turkish “kopya”.

7. Most of the French borrowing starting with s take the prefix –i in Modern Turkish.

Station > istasyon

Statistique > istatistik

8. Loanwords that have c are written with k.

Category > kategori

Coiffeur > kuaför

Complex > kompleks

Do not forget that there is no “x” in the Turkish alphabet, instead “ks” is used.

For additional information about the Turkish Alphabet, check out the page of Turkish Language Society (TDK)

🎧 AUDIO LESSON FREE: Talking About Your Schedule With a Turkish Friend

Two colleagues are talking about their schedule in Turkish. You’ll learn time expressions and some useful sentences like “How’s schedule tomorrow?” or “Do you want to meet?“.

GO TO THE LESSON