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The Turkish alphabet (Turkish: Türk alfabesi) is a Latin-script alphabet used for writing the Turkish language, consisting of 29 letters, seven of which (Ç, Ş, Ğ, I, İ, Ö, Ü) have been modified from their Latin originals for the phonetic requirements of the language. This alphabet represents modern Turkish pronunciation with a high degree of accuracy and specificity. Mandated in 1928 as part of Atatürk's Reforms, it is the current official alphabet and the latest in a series of distinct alphabets used in different eras.

The Turkish writer Şerif Mardin has noted that "Atatürk imposed the mandatory Latin alphabet in order to promote the national awareness of the Turks against a wider Muslim identity. It is also imperative to add that he hoped to relate Turkish nationalism to the modern civilisation of Western Europe, which embraced the Latin alphabet."[17] The explicitly nationalistic and ideological character of the alphabet reform showed in the booklets issued by the government to teach the population the new script. They included sample phrases aimed at discrediting the Ottoman government and instilling updated Turkish values, such as: "Atatürk allied himself with the nation and drove the sultans out of the homeland"; "Taxes are spent for the common properties of the nation. Tax is a debt we need to pay"; "It is the duty of every Turk to defend the homeland against the enemies." The alphabet reform was promoted as redeeming the Turkish people from the neglect of the Ottoman rulers: "Sultans did not think of the public, Ghazi commander [Atatürk] saved the nation from enemies and slavery. And now, he declared a campaign against ignorance [illiteracy]. He armed the nation with the new Turkish alphabet."[18]

The histori

The historian Bernard Lewis has described the introduction of the new alphabet as "not so much practical as pedagogical, as social and cultural – and Mustafa Kemal, in forcing his people to accept it, was slamming a door on the past as well as opening a door to the future". It was accompanied by a systematic effort to rid the Turkish language of Arabic and Persian loanwords, often replacing them with revived early Turkic words. However, the same reform also rid the language of many Western loanwords, especially French, in favor of Turkic words, albeit to a lesser degree. Atatürk told his friend Falih Rıfkı Atay, who was on the government's Language Commission, that by carrying out the reform, "we were going to cleanse the Turkish mind from its Arabic roots."[19]

Yaşar Nabi, a leading journalist, argued in the 1960s that the alphabet reform had been vital in creating a new Western-oriented identity for Turkey. He noted that younger Turks, who had only been taught the Latin script, were at ease in understanding Western culture but were quite unable to engage with Middle Eastern culture.[20] The new script was adopted very rapidly and soon gained widespread acceptance. Even so, older people continued to use the Turkish Arabic script in private correspondence, notes and diaries until well into the 1960s.[7]

The letters of the Turkish alphabet are:

Capital letters
A Of these 29 letters, eight are vowels (A, E, I, İ, O, Ö, U, Ü); the other 21 are consonants.

The letters Q, W, and X of the ISO basic Latin alphabet do not occur in the Turkish alphabet (replacements for these letters are K, V and KS). Dotted and dotless I are distinct letters in Turkish such that ⟨i⟩ becomes ⟨İ⟩ when capitalised, ⟨I⟩ being the capital form of ⟨ı⟩.

Turkish also adds a circumflex over the back vowels ⟨â⟩ and ⟨û⟩ following ⟨k⟩, ⟨g⟩, or ⟨l⟩ when these consonants represent /c/, /ɟ/, and /l/ (instead of /k/, /ɡ/, and /ɫ/):

  • â for /aː/ and/or to indicate that the consonant before â is palatalised; e.g. kâr /caɾ/ means "profit", while kar /kaɾ/ means "snow".
  • î for /iː/ (no palatalisation implied, however lengthens the pronunciation of the vowel).
  • û for /uː/ and/or to indicate palatalisation.

In the case of length distinction, these letters are used for old Arabic and Persian borrowings from

The letters Q, W, and X of the ISO basic Latin alphabet do not occur in the Turkish alphabet (replacements for these letters are K, V and KS). Dotted and dotless I are distinct letters in Turkish such that ⟨i⟩ becomes ⟨İ⟩ when capitalised, ⟨I⟩ being the capital form of ⟨ı⟩.

Turkish also adds a circumflex over the back vowels ⟨â⟩ and ⟨û⟩ following ⟨k⟩, ⟨g⟩, or ⟨l⟩ when these consonants represent /c/, /ɟ/, and /l/ (instead of /k/, /ɡ/, and /ɫ/):

In the case of length distinction, these letters are used for old Arabic and Persian borrowings from the Ottoman Turkish period, most of which have been eliminated from the language. Native Turkish words have no vowel length distinction, and for them the circumflex is used solely to indicate palatalisation.

Letter names

The names of the vowel letters are the vowels themselves, whereas the names of the consonant letters are the consonant plus e.

The one exception is ğ (yumuşak ge; i.e. "soft g"), which cannot begin a word:

a, be, ce, çe, de, e, fe, ge, yumuşak ge, he, ı, i, je, ke, le, me, ne, o, ö, pe, re, se, şe, te, u, ü, ve, ye, ze

The letters h and k are sometimes named ha and ka (as i

The names of the vowel letters are the vowels themselves, whereas the names of the consonant letters are the consonant plus e.

The one exception is ğ (yumuşak ge; i.e. "soft g"), which cannot begin a word:

a, be, ce, çe, de, e, fe, ge, yumuşak ge, he, ı, i, je, ke, le, me, ne, o, ö,

The one exception is ğ (yumuşak ge; i.e. "soft g"), which cannot begin a word:

a, be, ce, çe, de, e, fe, ge, yumuşak ge, he, ı, i, je, ke, le, me, ne, o, ö, pe, re, se, şe, te, u, ü, ve, ye, ze

The letters h and k are sometimes named ha and ka (as in German), especially in acronyms such as CHP, KKTC and TSK. However, the Turkish Language Association advises against this usage.[21]

Turkish orthography is highly regular and a word's pronunciation is usually identified by its spelling. The following table presents the Turkish letters, the sounds they correspond to in International Phonetic Alphabet and how these can be approximated more or less by an English speaker.

Turkish IPA English
approximation
Turkish IPA English
approximation
A a /a/ As a in father M m /m/ As m in man
B b /b/ As b in boy N n /n/ As n in nice
C c /d͡ʒ/ As j in joy O o /o/ As o in more
Ç ç /t͡ʃ/ As ch in chair Ö ö /œ/^a /e/ is realised as [ɛ]~[æ] before coda /m, n, l, r/. E.g. gelmek [ɟɛlˈmec].

^b In native Turkic words, the velar consonants /k, ɡ/ are palatalised to [c, ɟ] when adjacent to the front vowels /e, i, œ, y/. Similarly, the consonant /l/ is realised as a clear or light [l] next to front vowels (including word finally), and as a velarised [ɫ] next to the central and back vowels /a, ɯ, o, u/. These alternations are not indicated orthographically: the same letters ⟨k⟩, ⟨g⟩, and ⟨l⟩ are used for both pronunciations. In foreign borrowings and proper nouns, however, these distinct realisations of /k, ɡ, l/ are contrastive. In particular, [c, ɟ] and clear [l] are sometimes found in conjunction with the vowels [a] and [u]. This pronunciation can be indicated by adding a circumflex accent over the vowel: e.g. vur ('infidel'), mahm ('condemned'), zım ('necessary'), although this diacritic's usage has been increasingly archaic.

^c (1) Syllable initially: Silent, indicates a syllable break. That is Erdoğan [ˈɛɾ.do.an] (the English equivalent is approximately a W, i.e. "Erdowan") and değil [ˈde.il] (the English equivalent is approximately a Y, i.e. "deyil"). (2) Syllable finally after /e/: [j]. E.g. eğri [ej.ˈɾi]. (3) In other cases: Lengthening of the preceding vowel. E.g. bağ [ˈbaː]. (4) There is also a rare, dialectal occurrence of [ɰ], in Eastern and lower Ankara dialects.

^d The alveolar tap /ɾ/ doesn't exist as a separate phoneme in English, though a similar sound appears in words like butter in a number of dialects.

Distinctive features

Dotted and dotless I are separate letters, each with its own uppercase and lowercase forms. The lowercase form of I is ı, and the lowercase form of İ is i. (In the original law establishing the alphabet, the dotted İ came before the undotted I; now their places are reversed.)[4] The letter J, however, uses a tittle in the same way English does, with a dotted lowercase version, and a dotless uppercase version.

Optional circumflex accents can be used with "â", "î" and "û" to disambiguate words with different meanings but otherwise the same spelling, or to indicate palatalisation of a preceding consonant (for example, while kar /kaɾ/ means "snow", kâr /caɾ/ means "profit"

^b In native Turkic words, the velar consonants /k, ɡ/ are palatalised to [c, ɟ] when adjacent to the front vowels /e, i, œ, y/. Similarly, the consonant /l/ is realised as a clear or light [l] next to front vowels (including word finally), and as a velarised [ɫ] next to the central and back vowels /a, ɯ, o, u/. These alternations are not indicated orthographically: the same letters ⟨k⟩, ⟨g⟩, and ⟨l⟩ are used for both pronunciations. In foreign borrowings and proper nouns, however, these distinct realisations of /k, ɡ, l/ are contrastive. In particular, [c, ɟ] and clear [l] are sometimes found in conjunction with the vowels [a] and [u]. This pronunciation can be indicated by adding a circumflex accent over the vowel: e.g. vur ('infidel'), mahm ('condemned'), zım ('necessary'), although this diacritic's usage has been increasingly archaic.

^c (1) Syllable initially: Silent, indicates a syllable break. That is Erdoğan [ˈɛɾ.do.an] (the English equivalent is approximately a W, i.e. "Erdowan") and değil [ˈde.il] (the English equivalent is approximately a Y, i.e. "deyil"). (2) Syllable finally after /e/: [j]. E.g. eğri [ej.ˈɾi]. (3) In other cases: Lengthening of the preceding vowel. E.g. bağ [ˈbaː]. (4) There is also a rare, dialectal occurrence of [ɰ], in Eastern and lower Ankara dialects.

^d The alveolar tap /ɾ/ doesn't exist as a separate phoneme in English, though a similar sound appears in words like butter in a number of dialects.

Dotted and dotless I are separate letters, each with its own uppercase and lowercase forms. The lowercase form of I is ı, and the lowercase form of İ is i. (In the original law establishing the alphabet, the dotted İ came before the undotted I; now their places are reversed.)[4] The letter J, however, uses a tittle in the same way English does, with a dotted lowercase version, and a dotless uppercase version.

Optional circumflex accents can be used with "â", "î" and "û" to disambiguate words with different meanings but otherwise the same spelling, or to indicate palatalisation of a preceding

Optional circumflex accents can be used with "â", "î" and "û" to disambiguate words with different meanings but otherwise the same spelling, or to indicate palatalisation of a preceding consonant (for example, while kar /kaɾ/ means "snow", kâr /caɾ/ means "profit"), or long vowels in loanwords, particularly from Arabic. These are seen as variants of "a", "i", and "u" and are becoming quite rare in modern usage.[citation needed]

In software development, the Turkish alphabet is known for requiring special logic, particularly due to the varieties of i and their lowercase and uppercase versions.[22] This has been called the Turkish-I problem.[23]

See also