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LPT Symbol Regular and Consistent

What's this? Logic in a foreign language? Go figure...!
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About Word Order
Rules of Turkish Word Order Deviations from the Rules of Turkish Word Order
Turkish is reverse English...
Mother of all Deviations -- Devrik Cümle
About Vowel Harmony
Rule of Turkish Vowel Harmony -- Table
Showing Affection and Vowel Harmony

Did You know that Esperanto's grammar is based on Turkish?

Standard Word Order

The Turkish sentence has a standard word order -- with deviations from the norm being for clear and logical reasons. Well, most of the time anyway...want to see a couple of exceptions?

Let's look first at a sample English sentence and see how its words are ordered...

John gave me a red book in the restaurant this evening.

That sentence could be re-stated several different ways in English without it changing the meaning of the sentence. We could just as easily have written the sentence as...

This evening in the restaurant, John gave me a red book.


John, in the restaurant this evening, gave me a red book.

The idea stays the same. The word order doesn't really matter in English. This is quite convenient for the native language speaker, but not very helpful if you are trying to learn English from scratch.

But in Turkish the standard word order for that sentence would be...

John... this evening... at the restaurant... to me... a red book... [he] gave.

The Turkish sentence would look like...

John... bu aksam... lokantada... bana... kIrmIzI kitabI... verdi.
(without the ellipses, of course).

Click following to see
a more complex example.

Rules of Turkish Word Order

In basic Turkish sentences (like the above),
the order of the words within the sentence is generally influenced (not dictated) by two fundamental 'rules'.

Word Order Rule 1 -- This rule states that the subject comes first and is followed by expression(s) of time. Next come expression(s) of place. And, the last items are the personal and main object(s) which are followed -- at the very end -- by the verb.

Ben (subject) bugün (time-expression) Londrada (place-expression) kasagI (main object) alacagIm (verb).
I'll go buy a back-scratcher today in old London town.

But this rule is kinda loosey goosey. For example, if you've already read the article, "Do the right Turkish thing," then you already know what we're talking about. But furthermore, as we'll see in the Deviations paragraph below and also when we explore Devrik Cümlesi, this rule
gets abused with regularity.

Word Order Rule 2 -- This rule states that modifiers appear before whatever they modify.
And you can only break this rule... if you're Turkish!

Therefore, adjectives [as well as participles and qualifying nouns] precede nouns.

So it is,
a hound,
...bir av köpegi...
a brown hound,
...kahverengi bir av köpegi...
a brown running-like-hell hound,
...cehennem gibi kosan kahverengi bir av köpegi...
a brown running-like-hell Baskerville hound,

...cehennem gibi kosan kahverengi bir Baskerville'li av köpegi.

And, adverbs [and other verb complements] precede verbs.
Further, we hasten to add that adverbs precede adjectives too (and participles and modifying nouns) --
just about everything in fact (except maybe the subject)!

So it is,
I drove[my car],
...Ben [arabam] sürdüm...
I drove as fast as the wind,
...Ben rüzgar kadar çabuk sürdüm...
I drove as fast as the summer wind,
...Ben esen rüzgar kadar çabuk sürdüm...
I drove as fast as the summer wind that blew at 7 o'clock,
...Ben saat yedide esen rüzgar kadar çabuk sürdüm...
I drove as fast as the summer wind that blew at 7 o'clock out of Mexico,
...Ben saat yedide Meksikadan esen rüzgar kadar çabuk sürdüm...


You may deviate from the standard rules of word order when you want to emphasize a particular word or idea in the sentence -- without the need for voice inflection. To give emphasis then, you move the word you want to emphasize to the place right before the verb at the end of the sentence.

So if we were to re-write one of our earlier example sentences as...

Bu aksam lokantada bana kIrmIzI kitabI John verdi,

...the meaning of the sentence takes on a different dimension to convey the idea that...

It was John (and not someone else -- like his wife or child perhaps) [that] gave me a red book at the restaurant this evening.

This consistency of word order can be very helpful to the starting student who is trying to "de-cipher" his first Turkish sentence -- and for us ole timers too, regardless of experience level!

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Vowel Harmony

Because of the rule of consistent vowel harmony, it's downright hard to misspell a word in Turkish...and if you can't misspell it, it's hard also to mispronounce it. So what is this super rule that can eliminate two classic language-problems at one fell swoop? It's easiest to show it by use of a compact little chart, as follows:

Rule of Turkish Vowel Harmony
a ...may be followed by... a or I
I ...may be followed by... a or I
o...may be followed by... u or a
u ...may be followed by...u or a
e...may be followed by... e or i
i ...may be followed by...e or i
ö...may be followed by... ü or e
ü ...may be followed by...ü or e

So, for example, if you hear a multi-vowel word in which the first vowel sounds like an a, then it's likely that the second vowel you hear is going to be a or an I.

Thus, you can be rather sure that the word Ik; open (with the undotted I) is correctly spelled and you can also be rather sure that no such word as açik (with the dotted i) has or ever will exist in the Turkish language!!!

Of course there are exceptions to this rule too -- as with words which are imported into Turkish from foreign languages. Examples of such foreign imports include asansör; elevator from French (ö shouldn't follow a) and simülasyon; simulation from English (ü shouldn't follow i, a shouldn't follow ü, and o shouldn't follow a). But, despite the exceptions...if you memorize this chart, it will repay the effort ten-fold -- as an aid both to your spelling and to your pronunciation of Turkish.

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