Turkish Pronunciation Guide

By Dick Oakes

A a, B b, C c, Ç ç, D d, E e, F f, G g, Ğ ğ,
H h, I ı, İ i, J j, K k, L l, M m, N n, O o, Ö ö, P p,
R r, S s, Ş ş, T t, U u, Ü ü, V v,
Y y, Z z

Turkish has 29 letters and belongs to the Altay branch of the Uralo-Altay linguistic family.

Through the span of history, Turks have spread over a wide geographical area stretching from today's Mongolia to the north coast of the Black Sea, the Balkans, East Europe, Anatolia, Iraq, and a large portion of northern Africa, where various dialects and accents have emerged. During the five centuries of the Ottoman Empire period, Arabic and Persian words, as well as words from other languages, were assimilated. The "new language" movement begun in 1928, however, sought to rid the language of foreign words and replaced the Arabic characters with Latin characters.

Letters not listed below are pronounced approximately as in English.

A, a   - a as in father
E, e   - e as in let; also e as in grey
I, ı   - (undotted) i as in girl
İ, i   - (dotted) i as in machine; sometimes i as in pin
O, o   - o as in note
Ö, ö   - ur as in burn (approximate)
U, u   - u as in push; also u as in duke
Ü, ü   - eu as in feud (approximate)
C, c   - j as in rejoin
Ç, ç   - c as in cello
G, g   - g as in go
    ğ   - silent - lengthens preceding vowel
J, j   - z as in azure
Ş, ş   - s as in sugar
The ğ (yumşak ğe, "soft g") never begins a word. When it immediately follows a back vowel (those formed in the back of the mouth: a, i, o, u), its sound resembles the glide one hears between the words "go on" or "go over" when either of these pairs of words is slurred (as in ağac, meaning "tree"). When ğ immediately follows a front vowel (those formed in the front of the mouth: e, ı, ö, ü), its sound is approximately that of "y" in yet (as in diğer, meaning "other").

Copyright © 2011 by Dick Oakes