If you are dreaming of making a trip to Turkey in the near future, odds are you’re preparing by learning a little of the language as well. Knowing how to speak some Turkish, even if it’s just a few key phrases, is essential since less than 20% of locals speak English. However, it might be good to know what you’re getting into before you take on a new language. Turkish may not be the most difficult language in the world, but it does present its own set of unique challenges for the aspiring speaker. So before you hit the books, check out the top three most difficult aspects of the Turkish language and how to conquer them!
The first challenge that many native English speakers have when approaching Turkish is how linguistically different it is from most other languages. While knowing English can ease the way into German or French, it may not do so for Turkish which features a slightly modified Latin alphabet. This may throw you off guard since reading Turkish can therefore seem quite daunting.
How to conquer it: Turkish may feature a different alphabet, but this in fact can make reading easier, not harder. Once you learn all the sounds, reading is a breeze since Turkish is pronounced phonetically. Basically, what you see is what you get. Just pronounce each letter individually and you’re on the right track to smooth reading skills.
Image via PhotoPin
The next thing that trips up many learners is Turkish’s somewhat odd word order. English features a word order which is very similar to most other Latin based languages so your brain is hardwired to use the SVO (Subject-Verb-Object) way of speaking. Turkish, on the other hand, stands out from most languages in that it features a SOV (Subject-Object-Verb) order. Having the verb at the end of a sentence can be hard to wrap your head around, but shouldn’t bring your learning to a standstill if you know how to deal with it.
How to conquer it: The secret to conquering the Turkish word order is simple: practice, practice, practice! Be present and aware of what’s going through your mind when speaking Turkish. Above all, avoid thinking in English and translating into Turkish as this may cause you to revert to the wrong word order. The only way the SOV word order will become natural to you is if you both think it and say it.
Turkish features 5,000 words derived from French. // Image via PhotoPin
Turkish is a language which has borrowed many modern words from English such as television (televizyon) and hotel (otel). However, the similarities end here because Turkey’s national language doesn’t have many words with the same roots or even sounds and meanings as English. Learning new vocabulary can therefore be something of a pain as you’ll find yourself struggling to remember words whose sounds differ extensively from your native tongue.
How to conquer it: This is definitely one of those cases where knowing more than one language can help you to pick up a new one. Although Turkish doesn’t feature many similarities to English, knowing some French can actually make it easier to retain new vocabulary! According to sources, Turkish features around 5,000 words which are derived from French alone. Therefore, if you’ve studied French in the past, it will help you immensely when you’re trying to bulk up your Turkish vocabulary bank.
Turkish is without a doubt an amazing language and knowing how to speak it will open doors to business and travel opportunities around the world. Don’t be intimidated by the difficulties the language presents, because as long as you approach the process in the right way learning it should an enjoyable process. Be sure to sign up for classes with top-tier instructors and take advantage of online placement tests to really hone your language know-how. Knowing ahead of time what challenges you will face and how you can conquer them will have you be carrying on complex conversations in Turkish in no time at all!