Turkish Alphabet

Lessons > Speaking Turkish in 30 Days

Vowel Harmony

The first thing to know about Turkish is that it uses a modified version of the Latin alphabet. There are 29 letters in the Turkish alphabet. Inside these 29 letters, there are 8 vowels. Vowels are categorized according to the position of the tongue and shape of the mouth. We categorize vowels because it is an important aspect of Vowel Harmony. You will learn about Vowel Harmony in the next day. Let’s take a look at all the vowels in the Turkish alphabet. I’ll describe everything that you see in the chart in our next lesson, don’t worry.

Back
(Unrounded)
Aa
Back
(Rounded)
OoUu
Front
(Unrounded)
Eeİi
Front
(Rounded)
ÖöÜü

It is important to know that Turkish has long vowels as well. They are basically the same vowels pronounced in a longer way. Unfortunately, there are no indicators to see whether a vowel is short or long. The only way to know is by opening a dictionary with IPA symbols and see their written pronunciation.

Consonant Assimilation

Turkish is a phonetical language and every letter you’ll see in the alphabet has only one reading. Some of them will sound similar to the English sounds but there are some that may sound different. Like Vowels, we also categorize consonants according to how they are voiced. Consonants are categorized because it is essential for Consonant Assimilation.

Voiced Consonants
b,d,g,v,z,c,ğ,j,l,m,n,r,y
Voiceless Consonants
p,t,k,s,ş,ç,h,f

The pronunciation of most consonant sounds are similar to that in English. The only exceptions are the “Çç, Ğğ, İi, Şş, Üü” sounds. You will hear all the pronunciations of these sounds in just a moment. The “Ğğ” (Yumuşak G/Soft G) sound has no sound, it only lengthens the vowel that it follows.

Letter Pronunciation

Now, let’s see all the letters of the Turkish alphabet in action:

Aau as in uncle
Bbb as in bed
Ccj as in jet
Ççch as in chance
Ddd as in day
Eee as in end
Fff as in fat
Ggg as in get
Ğğmakes preceding
vowel long
Hhh as in hay
Iıe as in open
İii as in finish
Jjsu as in measure
Kkk as in king
Lll as in lemon
Mmm as in mess
Nnn as in net
Ooo as in oat
Ööi as in bird
(British)
Ppp as in pet
Rrr as in red
Sss as in said
Şşsh as in share
Ttt as in take
Uuoo as in wood
Üüu as in cute
Vvwe as in wet
Yyy as in yet
Zzz as in zip

Letters Not Used in Turkish

You might have noticed that the Turkish alphabet doesn’t have the Xx and Ww letters. When we want to translate and pronounce foreign words that have these letter the Xx is usually written as iks and the Ww is written as Vv.

It is also important to note that Turkish doesn’t have two lettered sounds (consonant clusters) like th, ch, sh, wh sounds you would see in English. Every letter is pronounced in Turkish.

Most English speakers mispronounce the letter with İi. Look at the word examples again and review it as much as possible.

The “Soft G” in Turkish

As I mentioned before, the Ğğ (Soft G) sound is not pronounced but used after a vowel sound like Aa, Ee, Iı, İi, Oo, Öö, Uu, Üü to make the sound longer.

Let’s see some examples:

AğaçBeğenDoğuÖğlen
UğraşIğdırCiğerDüğüm

Now that you know how to pronounce the letters in the Turkish alphabet, you can immediately start practicing by reading things written in Turkish or by trying to listen to someone speaking in Turkish and trying to write the words they’ve spoken on a piece of paper.

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