Türk Alfabesi: How To Say The Turkish Alphabet

22 October 2022
By Sarah Angela Almaden
Japanese House

Unsplash: Tolga Ahmetler

The Turkish language has been written using a variety of scripts, including Cyrillic, Arabic, Greek, Latin, Uyghur, and other Asiatic scripts. But, the earliest form of Turkish writing system is known as Orkhon script, aka the Old Turkic alphabet, and it dates back to the 7th century. Then, for around a thousand years, the Turkish language was written using the Arabic script. It wasn't until the end of 1928 that the modern 29-letter Turkish alphabet was introduced and adopted, under the order of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic.

Turkish alphabet or Türk Alfabesi is made up of 29 letters in Latin script: 21 consonants and 8 vowels. The majority of the letters in the Turkish alphabet are based on Latin letters, therefore their pronunciations are mostly similar to that of other alphabets using the Latin script, with the exception of a few special characters that are only found in the Turkish alphabet like “Ç”, “Ş”, “Ğ”, “I”, “İ”, “Ö”, “Ü.”

Pronunciation Tips:
  • Q, X, and W are not part of the Turkish alphabet, but they are still used in English loanwords
  • the pronunciation of the letter E changes to “ae” when it is placed before the letters M, N, L, or R
  • when G is next to E, I, O, or U, it is pronounced as “g” (hard g) like in the Turkish word gerçek (ger-check)
  • Ğ is usually silent after the letter E like in the Turkish word fesleğen (fes-le-en)
          ◦    sometimes Ğ is pronounced as “y” like in the Turkish word eğri (ey-ri)
          ◦    sometimes Ğ can make the vowel sound longer like in the Turkish word
               tereyağı (te-reh-ya)
  • when the Turkish letter L is next to A, I, O, or U, it is pronounced as “ɫ” like in the Turkish word
      Turkish Word
      Aa ah allık (ah-lluhk)
      Bb b bal (bahl)
      Cc j incir (in-jir)
      Çç ch çörek (chu-rek)
      Dd d dört (dort)
      Ee eh ekmek (ek-mek)
      Ff eff fil (fil)
      Gg guh gri (gree)
      Ğğ No equivalent öğlen (uhy-lan)
      Hh h herkes (her-kes)
      Ii uh ızgara (iz-gah-rah)
      İi ee inek (ee-nek)
      Jj g jöle (joh-leh)
      Kk k kola (ko-lah)
      Ll l lahana (la-ha-na)
      Mm em mavi (mah-vee)
      Nn en nar (nar)
      Oo oh orkide (or-kee-deh)
      Öö As u in hUrt ördek (ur-dek)
      Pp p puding (pu-ding)
      Rr ruj ruj (rooj)
      Ss s salatalik (sa-la-tah-lek)
      Şş sh yeşil (yeh-shil)
      Tt t turta (tur-ta)
      Uu uh uzay (uh-zay)
      Üü uu ütü (uuh-tuuh)
      Vv v vagon (vah-gon)
      Yy y yorgun (yor-gun)
      Zz z zencefil (zeyn-je-fil)

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