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LPT Symbol More Turkish Ambiguities

Haven't had enough, huh...?
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Slick, tricky ones
Spelling ambiguity
Mix up twixt varmak and var
Avoiding Ambiguities
Original ambiguities page

Slick, tricky ones...

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Ambiguous only when spoken...

If you hear us say:

(as if it were a single word, with no noticeable break between syllables)

Do you think we mean:

a) Odam açIktI ; My room was opened, or

b) Odama çIktI ; He went up to my room, or

c) O dama IktI ; She went up on that roof...

DS sez..."And they tell us that Chinese is hard to pronounce and understand..."

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Ambiguous when written or spoken...

If we write (or say):

HIrsIz bakanIn odasIna girdi.

Do you think we mean:

a) HIrsIz [with a break here] bakanIn odasIna girdi;
The thief entered the room of the minister,


b) HIrsIz bakanIn odasIna [with a break here] girdi;
She (or he) entered the room of the thieving minister!

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Can you tell which meanings reflect the speaker's (writer's) thoughts?
Jump over to the
Avoiding Ambiguities page -- to find out...

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How's the following spelling ambiguity strike you...?
[the dashes are shown below just for clarity]
  1. el means hand
  2. el-i means his hand
  3. el-i-n-de means in his hand
  4. el-in means your hand
  5. el-in-de means in your hand...
    That's the same Turkish spelling as item 3, but a different meaning!
Not a very big difference in meaning, you say? Well, 'spose gold bullion was the subject -- in his or your hand. Then would it make a difference?

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Mix-up between varmak; to arrive ...
and var; there exists

In written Turkish, you are justified in doing a double take upon seeing the word vardI -- and any other such verb tense constructions that may be based on the verb varmak; to arrive or
var; he/she/it exists

For, by itself like that, vardI can mean either he arrived (the past tense of varmak) or there existed ["there was"] -- the latter meaning of vardI arising from a concatenation of the word var plus the word idi. So you have to rely on the context of a written sentence to tell the difference between meanings.

Thus, the meaning of vardI is clear only when seen in the context of the following example sentences...

Saat dokuzda vardI; He arrived at nine o'clock.

Masada bir kitap vardI; There was (There existed) a book on the table.

A similar ambiguity arises with all the Turkish nouns. For example, consider the noun adam; man and the two possible meanings which arise when the suffix -im is applied --

1) adamIm; my man
2) adamIm; I am a man.

Not until the word is securely wrapped in a sentence does the meaning become clear...

AdamImI severim; I love my man.

Halden anlIyan bir adamIm; I am a man of the world.

Still another example of this sort of ambiguity arises with all the Turkish verbs...For example, take the verbal derivative yuzme. You can't say for sure what it means until you see how the word is used in a sentence...

Kirli suda yuzme; Don't swim in dirty water.

Yuzme havuzu icine düs; She fell into the swimming pool.

In speech, you get a further clue (in addition to the sentence context) to help you differentiate between ambiguous meanings -- but you'll need to listen very carefully.

Take the example with vardI above. When you listen and you hear the accent on the first syllable var, then the word means there is. And when you hear the accent on the second syllable dI then the word means he arrived.

Don't underestimate this ambiguity...Var is a very important Turkish word in it's own right that literally means there exists, but which also has connotations of there is, I have, you have, he/she/it has, we have, they have, I own, you own, etc. And, along with yok and sey is one of the most used words in the Turkish language.

So it'll pay you to avoid mistaking it for something else when you see or hear it.

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