Why learn Turkish?
People may have different reasons to learn Turkish language. Some want to acquire just several words or expressions to get the most out of a travel to Turkey. Others need to acquire a deeper knowledge of both spoken and written Turkish in order to communicate effectively on every day basis, to study at Turkish university, to work for a Turkish company, or even to open one’s own business in Turkey.
Learning Turkish language gives you a possibility to communicate with almost 80 million inhabitants of Republic of Turkey; a few million people living from Romania, Bulgaria, Northern Cyprus, and some other parts of Balkans; as well as a few million member Turkish diaspora in the Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, Belgium, Austria, and other European countries. Learning Turkish also makes possible getting by in Turkish with over 100 million speakers of closely related Turkic languages.
What contemporary Turkish looks like?
Turkish language (Ottoman Turkish back then) saw great changes after the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923. The script reform of Turkish Language Association (TDK), established in 1932, aimed “to create a new Turkish” with newly coined Turkish origin equivalents for existing Arabic and Persian loanwords and to replace Ottoman Turkish script with a Latin alphabet. These crucial changes caused elder and younger people “to speak different languages”, basically to differ in their vocabularies, what caused a lot of misunderstandings that time.
Nowadays, however, both old and new variants for the same denotations are used and considered as synonyms. At the same time, in the past few decades a lot of neologisms and terms derived from other languages, received in Turkey widespread acceptance. All these changes made the modern Turkish language a sort of a mixture of Turkic origin words, traditional Persian and Arabic loanwords and borrowings from other languages (mostly Western).
We must admit that Turkish is simply different from western languages, but it doesn’t make it difficult. Although modern Turkish has a Latin script, there are no cross-overs in terms of grammar or language structure between Turkish and western European languages. The most distinctive characteristics of Turkish are extensive agglutination and vowel harmony (notions unfamiliar for most European languages). The basic word order of Turkish is subject – object – verb. And Turkish has no noun classes or grammatical gender as well.
At the first glance it may seem unusual and odd, but in fact the way Turkish works is fascinating. The more you learn, the more you are surprised by its simplicity. You do not have to remember if a thing is masculine, feminine or neutral (which makes a lot of difficulties learning German or French), Turkish grammar is regular (without thousands of exceptions), and once you know some vocabulary and couple of word building rules, guessing new words is just a piece of cake.
How to learn Turkish?
The most appropriate way of learning any language depends, in the first place, upon the purpose of learning it. For example, a simple phrase book may be the best option to communicate with locals effectively, when planning a short trip to Turkey. But no doubt that would not be enough for those, who plan to live, study or work in Turkey.
No wonder that in the Information Age, when everyone has an access to all sorts of information just sitting behind a PC, self-tuition becomes one of the most popular ways to learn a language. All possible kinds of self-tuition books, software and video lessons make possible acquiring basic skills of reading, listening, writing and speaking etc. The other most common way for a beginner to start learning Turkish language might be attending a language course, which methods aim their students to achieve four basic language skills, which are listening comprehension, reading comprehension, oral expression and written expression.
Both self-tuition, as well as attending a language course can help you to learn the Turkish language to some certain level. The biggest mistake of most people, however, is learning a language in a vacuum. But what can give you a real chance to dip into Turkish is coming to Turkey. In a real life, people do not learn glossaries or grammar rules – they are simply exposed to words and word expressions used in different contexts, and in the end they start to soak them up. What you need to do is just to be in this environment, talk to Turkish people, expose yourself, listen, memorize and draw analogies. And then relax, answer, copy, make mistakes, enjoy!