Turkish/Pronunciation and Alphabet/Consonant Classifications and Harmony
|Lenis (yumuşak, meaning soft)||Fortis (sert, meaning hard)|
|Continuant (Sürekli)||Non-continuant (Süreksiz)|
|b, c, d, g, ğ, j, l, m, n, r, v, y, z||f, h, s, ş||p, ç, t, k|
Continuants f/v, ğ/h, j/ş, s/z have strict voicing distinction between fortis and lenis. Non-continuant distinction varies on the speaker: unaspirated/voiceless and strongly aspirated, voiced aspirated/voiceless aspirated.
The table above shows the consonant classifications in Turkish. You don't have to learn these by heart. But you have to know consonant harmony rules below. Voicing rules are a bit problematic, there are a lot of exceptions and irregular words, but devoicing rules has no exceptions.
Consonant lenition (Yumuşama, meaning softening)
This rule is for words ending in non-continuant fortis consonants (süreksiz sert ünsüzler, "p, ç, t, k"). When these words take a suffix starting with a vowel, last consonants of these words become lenis (yumuşak, soft "b, c, d, g, ğ"). And this process is named lenition in English and yumuşama (softening) in Turkish. The table below shows the rule for voicing.
grammar rules • lenition
|p > b||ç > c||t > d||k > g||k > ğ|
Good news: There are many exceptions for p>b, ç>c, t>d rules (especially for p>b and t>d) but k>g and k>ğ rules are generally followed, only most of the monosyllabic words and some polysyllabic borrowings are irregular.
- There are many irregular words for this rule. Because most of the Turkish words ending in t and p are of Arabic or Persian origin and irregular (some resources claim that sometimes these words may be regular, see the note below for its explanation). Some of the remaining words of Turkish origin are irregular, too (yapıt, kanıt, taşıt etc.). There are monosyllabic Turkish words ending in p, but monosyllabic words occasionally follow the rule, so there're very few regular words ending in t and p.
- Most of the monosyllabic words (words consisting of only one syllable, e.g. ok, küp etc.) don't follow this rule. Actually, voicing of a monosyllabic word is an exception. Voicing is very rare in monosyllabic words.
- Words of foreign origin don't follow p > b, ç > c or t > d rules and sometimes k > g/ğ rule (examples for these words are olimpiyat, saat etc.). You can encounter some words of foreign origin that follow this rule. An example for this is kitap, which is an Arabic word. Actually this word is not kitap in Arabic, it is kitab. But b becomes p because of the rules of the Turkish language, and it reappears before a vowel. Explanation for this: In modern Turkish, words cannot end in voiced plosive consonants (b, c, d, g). Words ending in these letters became voiceless in Modern Turkish. b, c, d or g becomes p, ç, t or k at the end of the borrowings, but reappears before a vowel. There are some borrowings ending in g, they are exceptions (biyolog, meteorolog etc.).
- You don't have to learn these irregular words for now. You will learn as you encounter them.
Fortitive assimilation (sertleşme, hardening)
This rule is for suffixes starting with c, d, g being added to the words ending in fortis consonants. If a suffix starting with c, d or g is added to a word ending in one the fortis consonants (p, ç, t, k, f, h, s, ş), the initial word of the consonant is fortited to ç, t or k. You know that vowels in suffixes can change according to the vowel harmony rules. Consonants can change in suffixes, too. These changeable letters are shown red, and their b, c, d, g versions are written in this book (–dir, –di, etc. instead of –tır, –tı which are also possible forms of these suffixes).
grammar rules • fortition
|c > ç||d > t||g > k|
|When a suffix beginning with c is added to a word ending in one of the fortis consonants, the initial c of the suffix becomes ç (because c's corresponding unvoiced letter is ç).
||When a suffix beginning with d is added to a word ending in one of the fortis consonants, the initial d of the suffix becomes t (because d's corresponding unvoiced letter is t).
||When a suffix beginning with g is added to a word ending in one of the fortis consonants, the initial g of the suffix becomes k (because g's corresponding unvoiced letter is k).
Ünlü Düşmesi (Vowel Obthesis)
This action takes place when one of the following suffixes "-ı, -i, -u, -ü" is added to a word when the last syllable in that word is the same as the suffix.
Ex: The word "Gönül" takes the suffix -ü. Since an ü already exists, that ü "drops", for the suffix to takes its place. The vowels that are "dropped" will be shown in bold. Gönül - Gönlü (No translation, but "gönülden" is "from the heart" or "heartfelt") Akıl - Aklı (mind) Nehir - Nehri (river) Alın - Alnı (forehead) Şehir - Şehri (city/province) Beyin - Beyni (brain) Ağız - Ağzı (mouth) Devir - Devri (era) Burun - Burnu (nose) Cuma ertesi - Cumartesi (saturday) Ne için - Niçin (why)
Ünlü Daralması (Vowel raise)
This action takes place when a verb ending with an "a" or an "e" has the suffix "-yor" (present continuous tense) added to it, making the "a" or "e" an "ı" or "i". The vowels that are raised will be shown in bold. Bekle + yor = Bekliyor (wait) Ağla + yor = Ağlıyor (cry) Sağla + yor = Sağlıyor (make possible)