The Turkish Language

23 March 2022

Though English is becoming increasingly popular in Turkey, there are many situations why you might need to know some everyday phrases in Turkey.

Besides, learning the local language is an excellent way to enhance your experience when travelling abroad. It might even let you discover a part of Turkish culture that typical tourists do not get to explore.

Before we jump into the different Turkish words and phrases you need as a tourist, let’s take a look at the overview of the Turkish language and how it might differ from English.

Compared to the English alphabet, the Turkish alphabet has 8 vowels and 21 consonants

The vowels are A, E, I, İ, O, Ö, U, Ü. In the Turkish alphabet, the letters Q, W, X do not exist. It is only when they are used in foreign words (think words like Wisconsin and Quebec) do they get used and translated into Turkish.

One thing that is quite unique about Turkish and might be difficult for foreigners trying to learn the language is its sentence structure. In Turkish, the structure is subject-object-verb, as opposed to subject-verb-object in English.

The Turkish language also uses vowel harmony, which is something that is quite complicated and only a few languages in the world (like the impossible-to-learn Hungarian) use.

As a result, Turkish is one of the hardest languages to learn.

Turkish is a phonetic language, meaning that what you see is what you pronounce. However, because there are a few letters that aren’t in the English alphabet, you will need to learn how to pronounce those.

Here are the letters that might give you some trouble:

I, though it looks similar to an i, it is not pronounced like an i. It is more like the e in oven

  • ö
    Pronounbed more like the i in birth
  • ü
    Pronunced similar to the ew in brew
  • ç
    Similar to the ch in chalk
  • ğ
    is pronounced like the k in khaki
  • ş
    is more like the sh in shelter

That’s really it! If you know how to pronounce those different letters in the Turkish alphabet, you will have no problem saying the basic Turkish words for tourists.

No matter how many days you plan to spend in Turkey, you shouldn’t leave home without knowing some basic Turkish for tourists.

Below we have outlined some of the most useful phrases, words and sayings you are going to need when you are visiting Turkey!

  • Thank you (formal) – Teşekkür ederim (Teh-sheik-kewr eh-deh-reem)
  • Thanks (informal) – Teşekkürler (Teh-sheik-kewr-lehr)
  • Hello – Merhaba (Mehr-hah-bah)

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