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Article Usage -- English vs. Turkish
Translating articles from Turkish to English
Rule for including the
Rule for excluding the
Exceptions to the rules
Exceptions to the exceptions
(Sometimes) Required articles
Direct Objects and Articles
Translating articles from English to Turkish
A final exception

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English and Turkish Article Usage
Article "rich" versus article "poor"
Is one way better than the other?

The English way We English-speakers always sprinkle our conversation liberally with grammatical articles when discussing the daily news with a friend...

Marvin: Did you hear, Mabel? The Non-Smoking Call Girl's Union of South Dakota is suing the ex-President for a half-trillion dollars.

Mabel: No, Marvin, I didn't. What's the charge?

Marvin: They haven't decided yet. But, they promise to let him know before the trial starts.

Mabel: Well, whatever it is, I hope they get a bundle. After all, it did happen on his watch, right?

Marvin: Right. Now, will ya' please pass the beer?

Mabel: Would you like an egg in the beer, Marv?

Marvin: Honey, you're the greatest...

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But, when it comes to our newspaper headlines, we've gotten used to the article-less approach...

Call Girl's Union Sues ex-President
for Half-Trillion Dollars

Landmark Sex & Smoking Issues under Debate
in South Dakota

The Turkish Way Well, it turns out that the Turkish language comes out in favor of this article-less approach in the majority of written and spoken cases. The idea that "Less is More" finds a happy home in Turkish.

So, you may have some additional adjustments to make as you tackle the difficulties of Turkish expression (and comprehension) -- difficulties that arise because of the general [but, not total] lack of articles in the language.

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Translating Articles from Turkish to English

"Rule" for including the the article --
during translation

Take this simple article-less Turkish sentence:

Sarap dömisek.

Since wine is not inherently semi-dry, it's understood that this sentence refers to some particular wine. So the the article should be included as part of the English translation.

The wine is semi-dry.

Therefore, the general rule is:
To denote particular meaning, you should include the the article during translation.

But this rule doesn't cover inclusion of the the article
in an English sentence like,

The camel is an oddly shaped creature;
[Deve garip sekilli bir yaratIktIr]

in which "The camel" is surely meant to denote camels-in-general --
not a particular camel.

So there are exceptions to this rule...

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"Rule" for excluding the the article

Take another simple article-less sentence:

Elmaslar ölümsüzdür.

In this case, the sentence relates to the general, inherent characteristic of diamonds -- that they are a girl's best friend (oh yes...and long-lasting too). So the the article should be excluded from the English translation.

Diamonds are forever.

Therefore, the general rule is:
To carry general, inherent meaning, you should exclude the the article during translation.

But this rule doesn't cover exclusion of the the article
in an English sentence like,

Congress has failed to accomplish its goals again;
[Meclis amacIna yine ulasamadI]

in which this "Congress" is surely a particular one.
Because... not all Congresses, all over the world,
fail always to accomplish their goals.
(We know for a fact that the one in Southern Ooobopshabamstan
recently succeeded in voting itself another pay raise --
and that's a time-honoured Congressional goal, if there ever was one.)

Anyway...Trust us. There are exceptions to this rule, too...

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Exceptions to the rules

But you may ask, "Well, if those are the rules, then why doesn't,

Michigan soguktur...

translate as,

The Michigan is cold...?"

"That's a particular statement, isn't it?"
you continue...
"Michigan isn't inherently cold.
So why doesn't the rule apply?
Why isn't the article included?"

Well, the answer is because Michigan is a special kind of proper noun, that is exempt from this rule.

And remember too that general-concept nouns --
like destiny, espionage, and fidelity --
rarely, if ever, appear with articles in well-spoken English.
Oh, we suppose you could say,

"James Bond engages in the espionage,"
but, if you mangled our language like that, we'd know you were
from SMERSH, wouldn't we?

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Exceptions to the exceptions
(Say...These are English language peculiarities, remember.
Don't blame Turkish...)

"Weeel then," you ask again, "why does the proper noun in,

New York Yankees,
kendi sahasInda ince çizgili takIm elbise giyer...

 See the CD...

get translated with the the article included:

The New York Yankees wear
pin-striped uniforms at home.

"Furthermore," you continue, "it's 'inherently' true that the Yanks wear pinstriped uniforms at their home stadium, so (for two reasons then) shouldn't the article be excluded -- according to the above rules? Shouldn't the sentence be translated as,

New York Yankees wear
pin-striped uniforms at home

Well, the answer is no. And it's because some English proper (and most 'ordinary') nouns are usually, if not always, associated with a grammatical article such as:

the Yankees, the Labor Relations Board,
the Supreme Court,
the (or an) ocean, the (or a) star,
the (or a) galaxy

So such nouns always get translated from Turkish to English together with the appropriate article...

unless, of course,
(are you getting tired of this?)
they are matched up with a personal pronoun,
as in:

City council'imiz her salI toplanIr;
Our City Council meets every Tuesday.

Redskins'im Super BowlI kazandI;

My Redskins won the Super Bowl!

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(Sometimes) Required Articles

Sometimes you can't avoid translating articles from Turkish to English -- such as when a noun (or noun phrase) is the direct object of a sentence.
But, this is not a hard and fast rule -- as you'll see in a mo'.

Observe the direct objects -- shown with their required articles -- in the following English sentences...

Joe Montana arched the ball to Jerry Rice
for another San Francisco touchdown

Hemingway enjoyed the running of the bulls
at Pamplona.

Diana captured the hearts
of the British people.

But, as you know, just because an English noun (or noun phrase) serves as a direct object, it doesn't mean that it must be fronted by an article.

The following sentences have direct objects --
but no article.

Georgia O'Keefe painted flower pictures
that were controversial.

Janis Joplin sang "Bobbie McGee"
when she was high.

Bill Clinton likes chasing girls
if Hillary isn't watching

(We're on a tautology binge, eh what!?)

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Direct objects and articles

In Turkish, the direct object suffix may indicate that the the article should be translated into English, as in:

SaçImdan kurdelayI al;
Take the ribbon from my hair.
(As opposed to: SaçImdan kurdela al; Take a ribbon from my hair.)

But, just because a direct object suffix has been attached to a Turkish noun, doesn't mean that the the article must always be translated into English.
And that's because of considerations mentioned earlier --
considerations to do with English proper nouns like Michigan
(and with general-concept nouns like espionage)...

For example, even though "Bobbie McGee" is the specific direct object in the following sentence,
we wouldn't say:

Janis Joplin sang the "Bobbie McGee"
when she was high.

Nonetheless, in the corresponding Turkish sentence
"Bobbie McGee" does carry the direct object suffix.

Janis Joplin,
alkol etkisi altInda oldugunda
"Bobbie McGee"yi söyledi.

(There's more about Specific and Non-specific Direct Objects
in the next section below...)

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Translating Articles from English to Turkish

Translating articles in the other direction -- from English to Turkish -- isn't half so brain-busting. Most of the time you just forget about 'em.

In fact, the only time you include any trace of an article during such translation is in the specific direct object case.
(See some examples below.)

So if you just remember always to use the Turkish direct object suffixes (i, I, ü, u) -- in accordance with
the Rule of Vowel Harmony
when you translate specific English direct objects --
then you can never go wrong.

But, don't forget the
possible need for a buffer letter (the letter y or the letter n) between vowels --
when you add the direct object suffix.
You may have already noticed, but you can't have
two vowels coming together in a 'pure' Turkish word.
Check out the "Specific Direct Object"
Turkish sentence examples below
to see the 'buffer' letters at work.

Specific Direct Object:
The woman watched the male stripper;
KadIn erkek striptizciyi seyretti.
Note the 'y' buffer letter...

 See the CD...

The male stripper believed she was a policewoman;
Erkek striptizci, kadInIn polis oldugunu anladI.

 See the CD...

Specific Direct Object:
Bonnie and Clyde robbed the Wells Fargo bank;
Bonnie ve Clyde Wells Fargo bankasInI soydu.
Note the 'n' buffer letter...

 See the CD...

But, they didn't have to do time in jail;
Fakat, cezaevinde hiç yatmamalIdIlar.
(because they were so hole-y...)

 See the CD...

Specific Direct Object:
In Turkey, we toured Bingöl;
Türkiyede, Bingöl gezdik.

 See the CD...

(Note the required direct object suffix, because Bingöl is a specific place,
even though the the English article isn't present...)

I saw thousands of lakes
in the vicinity of Bingöl;

Bingölün çevresinde binlerce göl gördüm.

 See the CD...

Specific Direct Object:
In South America, we visited Peru;
Güney Amerikada, Peruyu ziyaret ettik.

 See the CD...
(Note the required direct object suffix, because Peru is a specific place,
even though the the English article isn't present.
Also note the 'y' buffer letter...)

I came face to face with
a black widow (spider) there;

Orada kara dul ile karsI karsIya geldim.
 See the CD...

Therefore, except in the case of specific direct objects, you can totally ignore the concept of English articles when translating from English to Turkish!
Now, iddin' tha' nice...

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One final exception to all the above
(You knew there was going to be one, didn't you?)

Using bir to mean a or an

There is just one instance where the Turkish language seems to give a damn about articles. And that's when, if you wish, you can force the meaning of the English articles a or an through the use of the Turkish word bir (which usually means one).

Peruda kara bir dula kur yapmIstIm;
I tried to cozy up to a black widow (woman) in Peru.

 See the CD...

O benim tarafImdan yapIlan bir hataydI;
That was an error on my part.

 See the CD...

Esim kIskanç bir kadIndIr;
My wife is a jealous woman.

 See the CD...

Simdi, bir siyah gözüm var;
I now have one black eye.

 See the CD...

Note the positioning of bir -- in all sentences above.
As long as the
bir fronts the noun, it should be translated as 'a' or 'an'.
But if
bir fronts the adjective, then it is usually translated as 'one'.

Still...it is somewhat curious that the meaning of these example sentences would be about the same -- with or without the bir.

So who knows why there is this use of it?

Probably for emphasis, we guess.
But, for what sort of emphasis?
For an emphasis that has an obscure origin, we opine.
Too obscure for our limited brainpower, we fear...

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