Alphabet

History of the Turkish Alphabet

Soon after the Turkish Republic was declared Law No:1353 dated 1st November 1928 changed the alphabet to Roman letters from the previous Ottoman arabic script. The Ottoman script was did not adequately cover the phonetics of Turkish. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk introduced the new Latin alphabet overnight.

It incldes some special letters:
ğğ ĞĞ çç CC ıı II ii İİ öö ÖÖ ŞŞ şş üü ÜÜ

The Turkish Alphabet

A B C Ç D E F G Ğ H I İ J K L M N O Ö P R S Ş T U Ü V Y Z

  • The Turkish Alphabet consists of twenty-one consonants and eight vowels.
  • The alphabet is phonetic.
  • Each letter retains its individual pronunciation at all times.
  • Turkish does not allow two vowels to occur together, however there are exceptions, but mostly in foreign imported words. Whenever two vowels occur together they are each pronounced as a separate sound.
  • There are no diphthongs except in a few foreign loan words.
  • The letters W, X, Q do not appear in the Turkish Alphabet.
  • The letter Y is considered as a consonant in Turkish. It is used as a buffer consonantto keep vowels apart during word building.
  • The Letters included in the Turkish alphabet are:
    • ı I (UnDotted I)
    • i İ (Dotted İ)
    • ç Ç (C-cedilla)
    • ş Ş (S cedilla)
    • ö Ö (Ö dieresis)
    • ü Ü (Ü dieresis)
  • The letter g G also has a soft form ğ Ğ [as in English “fight, weight, sought”]
  • There are six pairs of two similar but different letters. There is a difference in the pronunciation of each letter.
    • C – Ç G – Ğ I – İ O – Ö S – Ş U – Ü

Pronunciation Differences between Turkish and English

Example sound files are provided below for Turkish pronunciation.

Turkish Vowel Pronunciation

The Eight Vowels are divided into two groups for Vowel Harmony purposes.

The A-UnDotted Vowel Group

A pronounced as U in English lucky or mutter.
Listen to Turkish A
yasak adam ada

I – UnDotted I pronounced as ER sound in porter or water – without any r sound.
Listen to Turkish I
ılık ısırgan ışık

O pronounced as the O sound in lottery or bottom.
Listen to Turkish O
on oda orta

U pronounced as the OO sound in loot or boot
Listen to Turkish U
uzun upuzun numara

The E-Dotted Vowel Group

E pronounced is as e in letter or set or met
Listen to Turkish E
evet ben teyze

İ – Dotted İ pronounced is as ee in meet or ea in seat.
Listen to Turkish İ
bir ismim iyilik

Ö pronounced is as ir in bird or shirt – without any r sound.
Listen to Turkish Ö
dört ördek özel

Ü pronounced as ew sound few or stew
Listen to Turkish Ü
üzüm ünlü ümit

Turkish Consonant Pronunciation

The Pronunciation of these consonants differs from English pronunciation:
C pronounced as j sound as in jam jar.
cep cacık cimri

Ç pronounced as ch sound as in church
Listen to Turkish Ç
çekiç uç çiçek

G is always hard as in gate. It is never soft as in general.
Listen to Turkish hard G
general gaga gıtmek

Ğ (soft G) lengthens the preceding vowel. It has no sound and never begins a word.
Listen to Turkish soft Ğ
ağa dağ iğne

The Turkish soft ğ can be likened to the silent gh sound in the English words such as weight, light, fought – etc.
Listen to Turkish Ğ
soğuk eğer oğle

H is always aspirated as in Henry. It is never silent as in Heir.
Listen to Turkish H
lahana hemen sabah

J pronounced as the French jolıe and in English closure, pleasure
Listen to Turkish J
müjde jale japon

R is always strongly rolled even on the end of words.
Listen to Turkish R
arabalar geri yarar

S is always hissed as in safe. – It is never a z sound as in these or those.
Listen to Turkish S
sıcak masa ulus

Ş is the sh sound as in sharp or bash.
Listen to Turkish Ş
şerefe şimşek başka