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Lesson Transcript

Ece: Merhabalar! Ben Ece.
Gina: And I’m Gina. Welcome to TurkishClass101.com! This is Pronunciation, Lesson 1 - The Pronunciation of Consonants in Turkish.
Ece: If you’ve listened to our All About series, you’ll know that we’ve covered some basics of Turkish Pronunciation.
Gina: That’s right. And in this series, we’ll cover Turkish pronunciation in more detail. In this lesson, we’ll talk about consonants.

Lesson focus

Ece: Let’s remind the listeners how many letters we have in the Turkish alphabet.
Gina: In total, it has 29 letters, which is composed of 8 vowels and 21 consonants.
Ece: And the majority of the consonants have direct counterparts in English. So it shouldn’t be too tough for you to get used to the pronunciation of Turkish.
Gina: Ece, before going over the consonants one-by-one, let’s talk about the general structure of Turkish words.
Ece: Whenever we talk about Turkish, what comes to mind is variety, equality and harmony. Variety refers to the fact that the number of syllables of a noun root can range from one to three, in various combinations. Equality means there is no dominant, or more important, syllable or sound within a word. And finally, harmony means that the sounds within a word should fit with each other.
Gina: Variable, but harmonic… So this means that the sounds can’t combine arbitrarily from one to the next.
Ece: No, there are certain rules. Turkish is one of the exceptional languages where it is possible to invent new word roots when necessary.
Gina: Oh really? Can you give some examples?
Ece: Sure. In Turkish, the word for “Computer Chip” is “Yonga”. The word “Yonga” was created exclusively for that meaning – it did not exist before the invention of computer chips.
Gina: So what rules are applied when new Turkish words are invented?
Ece: For example, two vowels can not come after one another. A syllable can not start with two consonants. Only the first syllable can contain the sounds of (O) and (Ö). The vowels should follow major and minor vowel harmonies. These are the rules for how we recognize if a word is Turkish or a loan as well.
Gina: Also in a Turkish word, no word or syllable can end with one of the 4 non-continuous consonants, right?
Ece: That’s right, and these are (B, C, D, G).
Gina: Why is that?
Ece: All these rules exist to maintain a continuous smooth flow and a melodic sound. In the case of (B, C, D, G), the rule exists because it’s hard to end a syllable with one of those sounds.
Gina: And there is one consonant with which no Turkish word can begin:
Ece: Yes, that’s (Ğ). It is hard to make this sound in isolation. (Ğ) is used for combining vowels within a word, or at the end of syllables, like elongating the last vowel.
Gina: And lastly there is one consonant that’s found in the Turkish alphabet, but not in Turkish words.
Ece: …Which is (J). There are many words that include (J), but they are of French or Persian origin. So this means that when a new Turkish word is invented, it should not contain (J), because (J) is not a natural Turkish sound.
Gina: Ece, can you tell us all the Turkish consonants in order please?
Ece: (B, C, Ç, D, F, G, Ğ, H, J, K, L, M, N, P, R, S, Ş, T, V, Y, Z).
Gina: Ok, now because most consonants in Turkish are pronounced exactly like they are in English, we’ll only mention those that have different pronunciations. Firstly, let’s point out that while English uses combined letters to make certain sounds, Turkish will sometimes use one single letter.
Ece: That’s a natural result of the basic rule of the Turkish Alphabet, which is - “One letter for one sound.” Or vice versa - “One sound for one letter.”
Gina: Turkish learners do love that rule! Listeners, you should also note that there are no digraphs either, so two or more letters don’t combine to make one sound. Ece, when you see a C and an H together, how would you read it in Turkish?
Ece: (CH). (Not Like (cıh))
Gina: And S and H together?
Ece: (SH). (Not Like (sıh))
Gina: K and N?
Ece: (KN) (Not Like (kın))
Gina: That’s not how I expected them to sound!
Ece: Yes, as we just mentioned, these combinations can not exist in Turkish, as there’s not a vowel found in between. If two or three consonants appear next to each other in the middle of a word, make sure that they are distributed to different syllables. And if a word starts with two consonants in a row, then it is definitely not of Turkish origin.
Gina: Ok. To summarize, Turkish letters don’t go together, in order to form combined sounds. Each represents itself always and everywhere.
Ece: And that’s why we are sure that Turkish learners won’t have a hard time with either the alphabet, or the pronunciation.
Gina: There is one thing you should be aware of though. At the beginning, a learner may want to read some letters the same way they’d be read in their native language, or in English.
Ece: As a solution, we suggest that our listeners read and listen to Turkish words at the same time, so that it’ll be easier to memorize the sounds of letters.
Gina: Ok, firstly let’s list the consonants that are written the same as in English.
Ece: Sure thing. (B, D, F, K, L, M, N, P, T, V, Z)
Gina: What’s the difference with the remaining consonants?
Ece: One letter might stand for the sound of another letter in English, or might correspond to only one function of an English letter with multiple pronunciations.
Gina: Okay, let’s go over each one quickly. We’ll say the letter, and then an example word that uses that letter in Turkish.
Ece: Firstly, (C), which is written like the English C and pronounced like J. An example is “Can” which means “Soul”. Turkish (C) is never read like K or S like in English.
Gina: And the next letter is…
Ece: (G), written like the English G and pronounced only like the hard G in “Game”. An example is “Geyik”, which means “Deer”. The Turkish (G) is never read like J in English.
Gina: Ok, and next we have...
Ece: (Ğ), written like the English G with a small line on top of it. There is no direct pronunciation in English, but it can be imagined as the bridging sound you make between the vowels in the word “Sound”. An example is “Yağmur”, which means “Rain”.
Gina: And next we have…
Ece: (H), written like the English H, and pronounced only like the H in “Harmony”. An example is “Hata”, which means “Error” or “mistake”. The Turkish (H) is never silent, as sometimes happens with H in English.
Gina: Ok, next up is...
Ece: (J), written like the English J and pronounced only like the J in “Jerry”. An example is “Jandarma”, which means “Military police”.
Gina: Next is...
Ece: (R), written like the English R, and pronounced like the R in “Rainbow”. An example is “Rüzgâr” which means “Wind”. Turkish learners may have a tendency to mistake this (R) for (Ş) or (J) when it’s at the end of words for some reason. But it’s still the (R), R, maybe not suppressed strongly. But don’t be tempted to think that Turkish (R) at the end of a word will be silent, or elongate a vowel like in British English.
Gina: Next we have…
Ece: (S), written like the English S, and pronounced only like the S and C in “Science”. An example is “Ses”, which means “Sound, voice”. Turkish S is never pronounced like the SH in “Sugar” or the Z in “Reason”.
Gina: And finally we have…
Ece: (Y), which is written like the English Y and pronounced only like the Ys in “Yesterday”. An example is “Yayla” which means “Plateau”. The Turkish (Y) is never read as an E like in the English word “Baby”.
Gina: Ok listeners, make sure to check the lesson notes to reinforce what you’ve learned in this lesson.


Ece: Well, that’s all for this lesson.
Gina: Thanks for listening, everyone, and see you next time.
Ece: Hoşça kalın!