Essential Turkish 1

Turkish polite phrases and greetings…

Istanbul, Turkey

Travelers visiting Turkey can learn and practice 50-100 essential words and phrases here.
We’ve posted the first 11 below.
>Listen.
>Record yourself.
>Play back and compare. 
Over the next few weeks we’ll add more essential Turkish words and phrases.
(See “Learn and Practice Tips” below)

The First 11 Turkish Phrases

Learn and Practice Tips

  • Click the black arrow to hear the Turkish speaker.
  • Click the red dot once to record yourself, click the black square to stop recording.
  • When you click the black arrow again, you’ll hear the speaker and then yourself.
  • Do it several times until you sound like the Turkish speaker.

Why learn these Turkish Phrases?

Whenever you travel to a country where you don’t speak the language, you’ll encounter situations when these words will be useful. 
Let’s say, you’ve ordered your first meal in a restaurant in Turkey and as the waiter serves you, you say “teşekkür ederim”. 
Even if the waiter knows that you don’t speak Turkish, your effort may make him smile … 
And beyond “Please” and “Thank you”, basic greetings really are the staple of first words you should know in any country you visit.
We start with the most obvious and easiest ones: “Yes” and “No”.
And we’ll end with asking whether your conversations partner speaks English.

Good Things to Know

To simplify a current controversy among linguists: Turkish has a family named for it, the Turkic language family. It includes more than 30 other dialects or languages spoken in regions of Asia.
Turkish is the official language of Turkey.
The European part or Turkey is known as East Thrace.
The Asian part of Turkey is called Anatolia (also known as Asia Minor).
Turkish is also spoken in parts of Cyprus, Bulgaria, and Greece, and in a number of European immigrant communities.

Turkish Pronunciation Tips

Unlike English, Turkish is a phonetic language, that is, every character has just one sound.
There are a few letters that don’t exist in English, but their sounds are not that hard to learn.
Let’s start with examples from the list of phrases below.
“ı” – the “i without dot” is similar to an “uh” sound. “Hayır”.
“ü” – like the French “u” (tu): Say “ee” and round your lips. “Güle güle”.
“ş” – has a “sh” sound, as in the English “shoe”. “Teşekkür”.
“c” – has a “ch” sound, as in “change”. “Rica”.
If you want to practice all the Turkish sounds, click on this YouTube Link.
Note that in Turkish you’ll see and hear a feature called “vowel harmony”, which means that the vowels in a word come from the same vowel class.
This is common in agglutinative languages, which add grammar markers to the end of a word. Other European language examples are Hungarian and Finnish.

Outside of large cities…

While there’ll be many opportunities to use basic greetings in Istanbul, Ankara, and other large Turkish cities, knowing them when you’re outside of a larger city is even more important. 
As we always notice when we’re in smaller towns, greetings are common and even expected!
Being a visitor in Turkey will make you much more welcome, when you make the effort to greet people in Turkish.

The Next 12 Turkish Phrases: “Nerede…?”

In the next installment (to be added shortly) – Essential Turkish 2– you’ll learn to ask where the bathroom, train and bus station, bank, pharmacy etc. are located. 
Even if you have a GPS enabled smart phone, it won’t tell you where the bathroom is – and you’ll certainly find plenty of opportunities to ask other “Where…?” questions. It’s also often a good way to start a conversation!

Author: Peter Rettig

Peter F. Rettig's interest in languages began while working in Switzerland, where he became fluent in French. In his third career, he started GamesforLanguage.com and - as a language lover and traveler later in life - Lingo-Late with his wife, Ulrike.

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