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PRONUNCIATION

Pronouncing Turkish is pretty simple for English speakers as it uses sounds that are very similar to once you already use. You will hear some variation in pronunciation in different parts of Turkey, but this language chapter is based on standard pronunciation so you will be understood wherever you go. 

 

VOWELS

 

Most Turkish  vowel sounds can be found in English, although in Turkish they are generally shorter and slightly harsher. When you see a double vowel such as saat ( hour)  you need to pronounce both syllables separately. Be careful of the symbols ı and i - the ı  is undotted in both lower and uppercase (like Iğdır) while the i has dots in both cases (like Izmir). It is easy to read both of these as an English ‘i’ but you can be misunderstood if you don't pronounce the two sounds distinctly - sık means ‘dense’, ‘tight’ or ‘frequent’ but sik is the Turkish equivalent of a certain’ f’ word meaning ‘to copulate’. The same care should be taken with o/ö and u/ü.

 

TURKISH PRONUNCIATION GUIDE

 

a a as in ‘father’

ay ai as in ‘aisle’

e e as in ‘red’

ey ay as in ‘say’

ı uh as in ‘a’ in ‘ago’

i ee as in ‘bee’

o o as in ‘go’

ö er as in ‘her’ with no ’r’ sound

u oo as in ‘moon’

ü ew like ‘ee’ with rounded lips

 

Consonants

Most Turkish consonants sound the same as their English counterparts, but there are a couple of exceptions. The Turkish c  is pronounced like English ’j’ , ç is like English ‘ch’ and ş is like English ‘sh’. The letter h is never silent, so always pronounce it as in ‘house’. The ğ is a silent letter that extends the vowel before it - it  acts like the ‘gh’ combination in ‘weigh’, and is never pronounced. The letter r is always rolled and v is a little softer than the English sound.

 

TURKISH PRONUNCIATION GUIDE

 

b b as in ‘big’

c j as in ‘jam’

ç ch as in ‘church’

d d as in ‘day’

f f as in ‘fun’

g g as in ‘go’

h h as in ‘house’

j zh as in ‘s’ in ‘pleasure’

k k as in ‘kilo’

l l as in ‘loud’ 

m m as in ‘man’

n n as in ‘no’

p p as in ‘pig’

r r a strong, rolled ‘r’

s s as in ‘sea’

ş sh as in ‘ship’

t t as in ‘tin’

v v as in ‘van’ but softer

y y as in ‘you’

z z as in ‘zoo’


 

Word Stress

Word stress is quite light in Turkish and generally falls on the last syllable of the word. Most two syllable place names (eg. Kıbrıs) are stressed on the first syllable and in three syllable names the stress is usually on the second syllable (eg. Istanbul).