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Difficulty of Turkish

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Ayazid
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Czech Republic
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 Message 17 of 49
16 January 2010 at 5:44am | IP Logged 
d3n1z_ wrote:
Turkish is not easy. Grammar is very hard for foreigners. But you can learn.


I think that among speakers of virtually any language on Earth you will find people making the claim about their native tongue being very difficult or even one of the most difficult languages, but it's needless to say that it's very subjective statement, since native speakers don't learn the language in the same way as foreigner learners do, so they can hardly evaluate its difficulty objectively, but after all there is a little "nationalist" in any of us :)

The difficulty of learning a foreign language always depends on how similar it is to our own. I think that speakers of other Turkic languages would find Turkish fairly easy to learn, and speakers of grammatically similar languages (agglutinative, for example Japanese or Finnish) wouldn't find terribly difficult either.

Edited by Ayazid on 17 January 2010 at 3:02am

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daristani
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United States
Joined 5653 days ago

749 posts - 1655 votes 
Studies: Uzbek

 
 Message 18 of 49
16 January 2010 at 4:26pm | IP Logged 
As an aside, the word provided by Ertugrul above can be made even longer by adding the '-ebil" suffix, to give the meaning "you MIGHT be..."

But I ran across an even longer word somewhere on the internet a couple of years ago, which I provide below along with an explanation in Turkish for those studying Turkish who might want to play with figuring it out. (The situation described is highly unlikely, but at least from the grammatical standpoint, the word is correct, if very atypical.)

En uzun kelime:

muvaffakiyetsizleştiricileştiriveremeyebileceklerimizdenmi şsinizcesine (70)

En uzun kelime için açıklama:

Kötü amaçların güdüldüğü bir öğretmen okulundayız. Yetiştirilen öğretmenlere öğrencileri nasıl muvaffakiyetsizleştirecekleri öğretiliyor. Yani öğretmenler birer muvaffakiyetsizleştirici olarak yetiştiriliyorlar. Fakat öğretmenlerden biri muvaffakiyetsizleşti rici olmayı, yani muvaffakiyetsizleştiricileştirilmeyi reddediyor, bu konuda ileri geri konuşuyor. Bütün öğretmenleri kolayca muvaffakiyetsizleştiricileştiriverebileceğini düşünen okul müdürü bu duruma sinirleniyor, ve söz konusu öğretmeni makamına çağırıp ona diyor ki: "Muvaffakiyetsizleştiricileştiriveremeyebileceklerimizdenm işsinizcesine laflar ediyormuşsunuz ha? ..."

(I can provide a translation of the above if anyone wants it.)

Despite such monstrosities, however, I think that the real problem in Turkish (along with vocabulary, which is a major hurdle in just about any language) is that of syntax, and not of morphology. Despite the many suffixes, which work according to vowel harmony, these are all regular phenomena, which are used consistently in the same way. The suffixes can only be attached in certain ways, and in a certain order, and you eventually become accustomed to these if you spend enough time exposed to the language. The real difficulty, at least in my eyes, is figuring out exactly how the often-very-lengthy Turkish sentences used in formal writing "hang together". This isn't normally a problem in speech, but it is a frequent issue in formal writing, and it's hard to find much instruction on this in grammar books.

But for those at an advanced level, there is one very useful book, now pretty hard to find, which is very helpful. This is "Advanced Turkish Reader: Texts from the Social Sciences and Related Fields", by Andreas Tietze, published in 1973 in the Uralic and Altaic Series of books by Indiana University. In addition to having lots of academic texts with long sentences, the book introduced a system of notation (underlining, double underlining, brackets, and the like) to "label" the different parts of sentences so as to make the structure of the sentence clearer. Some of the more difficult sentences in the reading selections in the book are marked with these, making it easier for the reader to "unpack" the sentences. The texts in the book will be quite difficult for most non-Turks, and I would only recommend tracking down a copy to those who have a serious interest in the language and are already at a pretty high level. But it would be quite useful to that relatively small group of learners.

NOTE: In "previewing" the above, I see that the site's program has added a space in each instance of the "longest Turkish word"; there should be no spaces in it, as it's all one word.
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Fasulye
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Germany
fasulyespolyglotblog
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Speaks: German*, DutchC1, EnglishB2, French, Italian, Spanish, Esperanto
Studies: Latin, Danish, Norwegian, Turkish
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 Message 19 of 49
16 January 2010 at 6:52pm | IP Logged 
My Turkish is still far way from "advanced level", so such studybooks will - for a long time - not be applicable for me. It's still a long way to go, but I have enough patience with the language to move on...

Fasulye

Edited by Fasulye on 16 January 2010 at 7:02pm

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spykel
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Canada
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 Message 20 of 49
20 January 2010 at 1:19am | IP Logged 
hombre gordo wrote:

I have been told that it is an "easy language"? My friend holds the opinion that 6 months living there is enough for attaining fluency.



I have a friend who taught in Turkey for two years, and he also said that learning Turkish was quite easy. That was specifically conversational Turkish though; he found that most Turks spoke very plainly, using the same vocabulary and expressions over and over again which made it easy to pick up on.
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Fazla
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Italy
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Speaks: Italian, Serbo-Croatian*, English, Russian, Portuguese, French
Studies: Arabic (classical), German, Turkish, Mandarin

 
 Message 21 of 49
20 January 2010 at 8:32am | IP Logged 
I should spend around 10 months there next year so...let's hope I will make the most out of that period!
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Marc Frisch
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Germany
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Speaks: German*, French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish, Italian
Studies: Persian, Tamil

 
 Message 22 of 49
24 January 2010 at 8:36pm | IP Logged 
I don't think Turkish is difficult, but it's very different from English so it'll take you much more time then an "easy" language like Spanish or German. Especially in the beginning, the words just won't "stick" and you'll have to repeat grammatical construction over and over again for them to feel natural. But it's just a question of endurance, I've never really felt overwhelmed by the difficulty of the language (contrary to Arabic, which has left me desperate more than once).

To give you a rough idea of the difficulty: I've taken both Turkish and Portuguese courses at the local community college and after 4 semesters the people in the Turkish course were at a comparable level to the Portuguese class after 2 semesters. So my guess would be that you'll have to invest twice the time in Turkish than you would in an easy (read: Western European) language.
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aliebe
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United States
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 Message 23 of 49
12 February 2010 at 7:11am | IP Logged 
I just started learning Turkish a few weeks ago in preparation for a vacation later towards the end of this year, and found that having already learned about vowel sounds from a linguistic perspective made the vowel harmony really easy to comprehend. That being said I am not finding Turkish particularly easy. Before trying to learn a non indoeuropean language I never realized, not in a viceral sense anyway, how leaving my language family means a lot more than just losing cognates. It is hard to even line up some of the tenses with my understanding of grammar from English, German and French. That being said I am finding Turkish very interesting and may try to get myself past basic touristic vocab and sentences...
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William Camden
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United Kingdom
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1936 posts - 2333 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Spanish, Russian, Turkish, French

 
 Message 24 of 49
09 August 2010 at 1:00pm | IP Logged 
If you are a German speaker, you have advantages with finding Turkish language-learning materials. For example, a PONS dictionary (Turkish-German, German-Turkish) first published 1998 is the best such dictionary I have ever seen.


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