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5 surprising facts about Turkish

5 surprising facts about Turkish

One country spanning two continents is home to a language with over 70 million native speakers. Its capital is Ankara. Its largest city is Istanbul. It is like a second home to many German tourists. And regardless of whether you have ever visited, you already use words from its national language in everyday conversation (especially at bakeries and in the dairy aisle at the grocery store).

Here are five surprising facts about Turkish.

  1. It can be whistled. Long before there was a cell phone in every pocket, villagers living in the mountain town of Kuşköy found a way to communicate instantly over the treetops and across the valleys between them. They developed Kuş Dili, or “bird language,” which is neither spoken nor signed, but whistled. These pitch-perfect melodies can carry the entirety of the Turkish language from mountain top to mountain top and is one of only a handful of known whistled languages. Should you ever find yourself in the Pontic Alps, practice your do-re-mi, lick your lips, and pucker up: It’s time for some small talk.
  2. With its estimated 75 million native speakers, you can reach a bigger audience in Turkish alone than you can by reaching the combined native speakers of Danish (6 million), Swedish (10 million), Norwegian (5.32), and Dutch (29 million). Alert the Marketing department and make sure to send your Turkey-aimed ads to wordinc for translation!
  3. I say “Agglutination,” you say, “Bless you!” Then I say, “No, another feature of the Turkish language is agglutination.” Like Japanese, Korean, Finnish, most Philippine languages, and many more, a speaker of Turkish can convey complex ideas in a single (long) word. How do they do this? By tacking on suffix after suffix. From Turkish Language House: “For example, if I wanted to say something like ‘I will be able to catch a bus’, you could pull this sentence off in Turkish with only two words by saying ‘Otobus yakalabileceğim’.” Translators who charge per word may want to consider a new price structure.
  4. Turkish uses a version of the Latin alphabet. In 1928, as part of a sweeping set of cultural reforms, Kemal Atatürk adopted a variant of the A-B-C’s in favor of the Ottoman Turkish alphabet in place at the time (which itself was adapted from the Perso-Arabic alphabet, but you can do your own research from here, yeah?). Now, just because you were an honors student in Latin doesn’t mean you’re ready to order tea in Anatolia, but it does mean you have a starting point for reading such Turkish words as otomobil and motosiklet.
  5. The good news gets better: You already speak some Turkish! If you’ve ever enjoyed a honey-sweet slice of baklava or worn a face-warming balaclava in a kiosk*, you’ve used Turkish words. The next time you peruse the dairy aisle, remember to thank the Turks for yogurt and tzatziki**.

*wordinc does not suggest wearing balaclava masks in kiosks. You’ll scare the other customers.

**Yes, tzatziki was popularized in Greek restaurants, but we can trace the word back to the Turkish cacik, of unknown origin. Please don’t contact us to debate this point. We have researched it thoroughly. Do feel free, though, to send us your favorite tzatziki recipes. We wordincs love food.

The full article from Turkish Language House.

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