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Turkish family of languages

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88 messages over 11 pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ... 1 ... 10 11 Next >>
sigiloso
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Portugal
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Studies: Russian, Greek

 
 Message 1 of 88
08 May 2006 at 6:55am | IP Logged 
Hi all,

Could anyone here clarify the whole matter of the Turkish languages, especially number of speakers and degree of intelligibility with Turkish? It would suffice just the major ones, I know there are many minority and endangered languages in the family. Just to have a clear big picture; might be very useful for forumers considering to put Turkish in their shopping basket.
I am having difficulty settling this on the net.

Thanks a lot
Cheers,

Edited by sigiloso on 08 May 2006 at 7:18am

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andee
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Korea, South
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 Message 2 of 88
08 May 2006 at 7:01am | IP Logged 
You might want to start here.

It gives you a run down the Turkic family and might help with some points.


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sigiloso
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Portugal
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Speaks: Spanish*, EnglishC2, PortugueseC1, Galician, French, Esperanto, Italian
Studies: Russian, Greek

 
 Message 3 of 88
08 May 2006 at 7:24am | IP Logged 
Thank u andee

I had read the wiki article, naturally, but the question of mutual intelligibility remains unclear.

Maybe we need a Turkish language-lover who has travelled to Middle Asia to get the straight dope...

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andee
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Korea, South
Joined 5434 days ago

681 posts - 724 votes 
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 Message 4 of 88
08 May 2006 at 7:32am | IP Logged 
Absolutely - I'm quite interested in the crossover as well. Turkish is on my long term wishlist and some details about transparency with the lesser known languages would suit me just fine.

Maybe !LH@N could give us some info :)
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daristani
Senior Member
United States
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744 posts - 1645 votes 
Studies: Uzbek

 
 Message 5 of 88
08 May 2006 at 11:52am | IP Logged 
As a non-native but quite fluent speaker of Turkish with some experience in Uzbekistan, I can say that while there are great similarities among the various Turkic languages, and knowledge of any one makes learning the others easier, they are indeed different languages (and not "dialects" as some overly nationalist types in Turkey maintain). There is a varying degree of mutual intelligibility, ranging from quite high between Turkish and Azerbaijani to very minimal between Turkish and Uzbek or Kazakh. (Kazakh and Kirghiz are fairly close to one another, however, as are Uzbek and Uyghur.)

In a sense, however, mutual intelligibility between Turkish and the other Turkic languages has declined in recent decades as the Turks of Turkey have thrown out a great many Arabic and Persian words to replace them with supposedly (and in some cases questionably) Turkish words. This has caused the lexical differences to grow, although there has also been a slight tendency for some other Turkic languages, particularly Azerbaijani, to adopt some of this "new" vocabulary from Turkish. (The excellent book by Geoffrey Lewis, "The Turkish Language Reform: A Catastrophic Success" deals very thoroughly and entertainingly with the problems of the vocabulary changes in Turkey itself, but doesn't focus much on the question of interintelligibility with the other Turkic languages.)

In a practical sense, if you speak good Turkish, you can communicate without great difficulties, at least at a fairly basic level, in Azerbaijan, and to a substantially lesser extent in Turkmenistan, but will have difficulty reading books, understanding the television, etc. Further afield in Central Asia, your Turkish won't do you much good beyond making it easier for you to learn the other Turkic languages. (The core vocabulary, as well as the basic "logic" of these languages, are very similar, but the phonology and actual grammar, particular in terms of verbal morphology, are quite different, on top of the vocabulary differences cited.) A native speaker of any Turkic language certainly has a big advantage over a "foreigner" in learning any of the others, but materials in any one Turkic language for learning the others is almost non-existent. In this sense, there is a variety of materials available in English, but you have to do some searching to obtain them, as most are not available via Amazon and the like.   

In terms of approaching the family as a whole, I'd recommend learning Turkish first as being the most accessible, as it has by far the most speakers, as well as the best learning materials and chances for interaction (not just in Turkey, but also with the many Turks in Europe and elsewhere.) Materials for the other Turkic languages are much harder to come by, although there are more grammars and dictionaries coming available as time passes.
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sigiloso
Heptaglot
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Portugal
Joined 5136 days ago

87 posts - 103 votes 
Speaks: Spanish*, EnglishC2, PortugueseC1, Galician, French, Esperanto, Italian
Studies: Russian, Greek

 
 Message 6 of 88
08 May 2006 at 12:47pm | IP Logged 
Daristani: thank you so much for this informative answer. I suggest the administrator to include the essence of this information in the Turkish language profile when you find the time.
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Eriol
Diglot
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Sweden
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Studies: Portuguese

 
 Message 7 of 88
08 May 2006 at 2:20pm | IP Logged 
I was thinking about asking exactly the same question a couple of days ago. It is indeed hard to find reliable information about how similar these languages really are. Big thanks to Sigilosi for asking the question and Daristani for answering it.

A fascinating but also complicating issue with the Turkic languages is the writing system. Arabic, Latin and Cyrillic script with lots of variations have been used for different languages at different points in time. Sometimes the language is spoken exactly the same on the other side of the borde but written differently. It must be really hard to form some kind of literary tradition when the alphabet can be changes on a whim by some distant ruler. Information about the Azeri situation which is by no means unique (even if it's quite extreme) can be found here: http://www.azeri.org/Azeri/az_english/aboutaz_index.html
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andee
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 Message 8 of 88
09 May 2006 at 6:21am | IP Logged 
Yes, many thanks daristani :)


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