A new language that I have been working with last year and this year is Turkish. I thought that it could be interesting to discuss how difficult Turkish actually is. Keep in mind that I am a native English speaker, so that is my perspective.
Pronunciation is one of the easiest parts of Turkish. The alphabet is almost identical to the English alphabet, with different pronunciations of course. There are some different letters and English letters that have a different pronunciation in Turkish.
Here are the special letters that don’t exist in English and some pronunciation differences that you need to know.
Remember that Turkish is a phonetic language and there are no diphthongs. Each letter is pronounced and only makes one sound.
Üü- like German u in uber
Öö- like ea in the word learn
Iı- like the ö but farther back in the mouth like the English word fuss
Cc- like English j sound
Jj- like French j, like the s in measure
Çç- the same as the English ch sound
Şş- the same as the English sh sound
Ğğ- silent letter, lengthens the preceding vowel slightly
These are some of the special letters and pronunciations. You have to learn the new pronunciations, and it is quite easy.
Vocabulary can be a challenge sometimes in Turkish because many of the words are unique to the Turkic family. There are loan words from Arabic, French, and Persian (Farsi), so there will be some words that are recognizable.
Grammar is the most difficult part of Turkish. Irregulars are not the problem, but the grammar is different than in English and can be somewhat complex. The difficulty is that Turkish is agglutinative and has lots of verb conjugations.
Nouns are not gendered but there are cases. The good news with the cases is that they are logical and only modify nouns a little bit.
I can’t go over all of the grammar in this post. I will go over word order and some of the verb conjugations because these can be a challenge.
The word order in Turkish is Subject- object- verb.
Ben seni seviyorum. I love you.
Seviyorum is the 1st person singular of to love in one of the two present tenses of Turkish.
-um is the personal ending for I. For verb conjugations, possessives and to be, Turkish uses personal endings that are conjugated. The negative and question forms are different.
Arkadaşım Amerika’ya geldi. My friend came to America.
Geldi is the 3rd person singular of to come in the (simple) past tense.
‘ya means to/ at. The -y- is a buffer letter used between vowels.
Turkish puts the verbs at the end and uses postpositions (instead of prepositions).
Random small stuff
Turkish has vowel harmony.
Turkish is a lot of fun, but there a lot of patterns to recognize. I recommend paying close attention to the patterns of the grammar. Especially because there are no irregulars and the language is extremely standardized, more than many of the world’s languages. Turkish is a language built on really standardized patterns, but there are a lot of them.
1= least difficult 10= most difficult
My rating for Turkish is 4.5