Turkish, mother tongue of more than 200 million people today, is spoken in different geographies from Russia to China and from Balkan countries to Lebanon.
What makes Turkish -a language dating back to 7th century- convenient to learn for foreigners can be listed briefly: it doesn’t have grammatical gender, it is phonetical, meaning that words are pronounced the way they are written, and there is no irregular verbs. But alas, we have consonant harmony and syntax, which are the top difficult features for Turkish learners!
History of Turkish Language
Turkish language is first seen in Sumerian sources, and the first examples are, not surprisingly, in Hun language. However, the oldest Turkish text was found in Mongolia in the 7th century. The most comprehensive work known in the Turkish language is the Orhon inscriptions, which are now in Mongolia and were written by Göktürk khans in the 8th century. The Uighurs, who reigned after the Göktürks, wrote Turkish texts in the 9th century using different alphabets; these texts are regarded as the first Turkish documents written on paper. In the 10th century, the most important works of the Turkish language such as “Kutadgu Bilig” and “Dîvân-ü Lûgati’t-Türk” (the dictionary to assist Arabs to learn Turkish) were created around Kyrgyzstan and East Turkestan.
By the 13th and 14th centuries, the use of Turkish language had spread to a much wider geography. The upper parts of the Volga River, Egypt, Anatolia and Azerbaijan became the regions where Turkish language was widely spoken. Volga Bulgarian, Kipchak Turkish, Khwarezm Turkish, Chagatai Turkish is divided into different written languages depending on their regions, so that Turkish today has almost twenty different written languages.
Elements of Turkish Language
As is known, all the languages can be categorized as isolating (or analytic) languages, inflected (or fusional) languages and agglutinating languages according to their gramamtical structures. For example, Sino-Tibetan languages are classified as isolating languages; while Arabic is an inflected language. Turkish? It is an agglutinating language. Like other languages in its family, Turkish has words that are made up of different types of morphemes to determine their meaning. So the words can be decomposed and reproduced.
Another distinguishing feature of Turkish, which is a phonetic language, it doesn’t have feminine and masculine words or grammatical genders like Latin languages or Arabic language do. This, of course, is a great convenience for foreigners who want to learn Turkish.
Being a part of Altai group of the Ural-Altaic language family, Turkish is also sharing the same group with Turkmen, Tatar and Mongolian languages. Unsurprisingly, Turkish also has quite different dialects; Turkish (spoken in Turkey) is known to be a dialect of Oghuz group, which is a part of the large Turkish language family.
The languages spoken across the world are roughly divided into five families: Indo-European languages, Sami languages, Sino-Tibetan languages, Bantu languages, and Ural-Altaic languages. Regarding its interaction with other languages, Turkish is belong to the Ural-Altaic language family. Turkish, as an Altaic language from Ural-Altaic languages, shares the same classification with Turkmen Turkish, Tatar language and Mongolian. But Turkish has quite different dialects; it is also known that Turkish spoken in Turkey is a dialect belonging to the Oghuz group in the Turkish language family.
The Turkish language is widely spoken throughout the world, especially in Asia. The Turkish-speaking regions are Mongolia and China in the east, mid-Balkans in the west, and from Kazan City near Moscow in the north to Baghdad in the south. Turkish is thought to be the mother tongue of more than 200 million people. This shows that Turkish is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. The countries where Turkish is most spoken as a mother tongue are Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
Here is a frequently asked quesiton: Is learning Turkish a difficult job? The answer is simple: No, learning Turkish is not as difficult as thought!
The benefits of learning Turkish as a foreign language is perhaps the subject of another article. However, for foreigners speaking western languages, a phonetic language is a great convenience for learning: The Turkish is a phonetic language -open to dicussion- and its alphabet is a Latin-script alphabet is written in Latin letters. A Turkish letter will give the same sound in a word as it is pronounced in the alphabet. A foreigner who tries to learn Turkish alphabet, in this aspect, will not have any difficulty in reading, we hope.