As Turkey continues to act as a cultural bridge between East and West, more and more public authorities and international organisations are seeking people with skills in Turkish. Its emerging market economy also makes knowledge of Turkish even more attractive to companies seeking new business opportunities worldwide.

If you’re thinking of learning Turkish to further your career, gain some insight into international relations or explore the rich heritage, here are a few facts and tips to give you a taste for the language:

Turkish around the world…

Turkish is the native language of over 63 million people and is the official language of Turkey and Northern Cyprus. It is also a recognised minority language in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Iraq, Kosovo, Macedonia and Romania. Large Turkish immigrant communities can also be found in parts of Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland and France.

What you already know…

Some English words which come from Turkish include ‘Kiosk’ (köşk), kayak (kayık), doner kebab (döner kebap) and yoghurt (yoğurt).

English words which have made it into the Turkish language are mostly related to more modern concepts such as, çekup (check-up), kampüs (campus), dizayn (design) and brifing (briefing). Even more familiar words include site, data, hacker, mortgage, shop and fast food.

Tricky parts…

The good news is that Turkish is a phonetic language which has been written in a Latin alphabet since 1928. Because the language is pronounced as it is written, it’s much easier for English-speakers to learn and speak.

Unlike many European languages, Turkish does not have masculine or feminine forms of nouns and adjectives. However, the pronoun ‘you’ has both an informal and formal form (sen and siz, respectively). The verb endings then change according to the level of formality.

 It’s a stepping stone for…

Turkish is part of the Turkic language group which is made up of more than thirty languages, including Azeri Kazakh, Tatar and Uzbek. Learning Turkish can be a stepping stone towards learning one of these less well-known languages. Turkish is also understood in many countries of Central Asia, making a knowledge of the language useful for travelling in this area.

Watch out for…

There are a few words in Turkish which are almost identical in writing but pronounced differently depending on the context. For example, the word ‘kar’ can mean snow or profit depending on the pronunciation. Suffixes to the same word can make it something even more far-removed – ‘karin’ can mean ‘stomach’ or even ‘your wife’!

Mind your manners…

As with any new language, it’s important to learn about its associated culture and etiquette. To be polite in Turkish, you should always address people you have just met with the formal ‘siz’ form of ‘you’.

It is also polite to address people by their titles upon meeting them, – addressing people by their names can be considered impolite if you have only recently been introduced. You must always use ‘hanım’ after a woman’s name and ‘bey’ after a man’s. It means ‘Mr’ and ‘Mrs’ and is said after the name rather than before. If you do not know someone’s name it is best to address them as ‘hanımefendi’ if they are a woman or ‘beyefendi’ if they are a man – this is the Turkish equivalent to ‘sir’ or ‘madam’.

Get to know the people…

The Turkish people are very warm and welcoming, making it a very easy language to practice once you begin to learn. They will be delighted that you have decided to learn their native tongue and will be happy speak with you.

At inlingua Edinburgh, we offer a range of Turkish classes to suit all levels from Beginners Turkish to Advanced. Here, you can learn Turkish in small groups of a maximum of 10 students in classes led by a qualified native speaker.

For companies interested in Turkish lessons for their employees, we can arrange private or group tuition, either from our school on Shandwick Place or at your office. We also offer bespoke Turkish translation services from fully certified, professional translators.

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