8 Aralık 2018 Cumartesi

How does Turkish sound to non-Turkish speakers?

Eòghann Peadarson
Eòghann Peadarson, Enjoys writing from - and about - the loom of human language
When I first went to Turkey, I was surprised: Turkish does not sound like what I was expecting.
I mean, I already knew before I went there that Turks are neither Arabs nor Persians (although their language had been influenced both by Arabic and Persian), and that sometimes this is a rather sensitive point in Turkey. I also knew about Atatürk and how he had brought about the replacement of the Perso-Arabic script by the Latin script in a sudden but ultimately very successful move in the 1920s (who writes Turkish in the old script these days?) … and yet … and yet … In my heart, I think that I was expecting something ‘strange’ and ‘exotic’ to Western European ears. By that, I mean something definitely ‘Middle Eastern’ or ‘Eastern Mediterranean’, with lots of ‘heavy’ and ‘guttural’ sounds, like rolled R’s and Kh’s in abundance. Instead, what I found when I got there was a language that sounded surprisingly familiar (even if I could not understand what people were saying). Specifically, I felt that I was hearing sounds that I’d heard somewhere before … in Hungary, to be precise.
Yes, to my ears, the ‘other’ language that sounds closest to spoken Turkish is spoken Hungarian. This is perhaps not surprising, given that both languages are rich in vowels and operate on the basis of vowel harmonies. In both languages, it’s the ‘umlauted’ vowels that catch my ear (particularly ö and ü)as they lend a ‘nasal’ quality to the language.
In the case of Türkçe (Turkish), I just wasn’t expecting that.

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