www.ebbemunk.dkarrowSinema - garson - randevu: French words in Turkish

Sinema - garson - randevu: French words in Turkish

I stayed a month in Turkey to learn some Turkish. I noticed that this strange language contains a lot of French words. Then I started looking actively for the French words, and they showed up in strange places and odd spelling.

Earlier, the Turks borrowed many words from Arabic and Farsi. 150 years ago they started borrowing French words. Many of these word describe the bourgeois life in town, and they were adapted exactly when the Turks began moving to towns. I was told that there are 5,000 French words in Turkish, nearly all of them nouns. 50 years ago English words arrived as well, but not to the same extent.

The Turks changed from using the Arabian alphabet to the Latin alphabet around 1920. It was one of Kemal Ataturk's numerous reforms. The Turks started on a fresh transcription with a one-to-one connection between letters and pronounciation. That is a clever principle. It is also the rule in Finnish, Hungarian and Italian, and it helps schoolchildren to read and write within their first year in school.

Five rules for Turkish pronounciation:

  1. Every letter is pronounced
  2. Each letter has only one sound
  3. Letters are never combined to form other sounds like English ch in "church"
  4. No diphthong vowels like in English "boil"
  5. There is a slight stress on the last syllable

To make the Latin alphabet and the Turkish sounds match means that some of them are not pronounced as we expect:

Exercise: Pronounce these loans from English: videoteyp, greypfrut, flört, tişört.

The Turkish grammar uses vowel harmony where the basic Turkish words use either a - ı - o - u or e - i - ö - ü. This rule reveals the imported words: "videoteyp" has the vowels i - e - o - e which are not consistent with the vowel harmony.

Further, the Turks likes words where there is only one consonant and one vowel at a time: vowel-consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel-consonant etc. That is easy and quick to pronounce, and that has altered "auto" to "oto", "sport" to "spor" and "machine" to "makinesi".

As every letter is pronounced, the Turks will always change the spelling of imported words so that they match with their Turkish pronounciation. Example:

1. A few words are unchanged in pronounciation, meaning and spelling:

pardon

pardon

lavabo

lavabo

washbasin

liste

liste

list

2. Some words have lost an unpronouced letter, changed a vowel, etc.:

argo

argot

argot, slang

bonfile

bon filét

good steak

depo

depot

depository

garson

garçon

waiter

gri

gris

grey

lig

ligue

league

otel

hôtel

pantolon

pantalon

trousers

park

parc

park

reklam

réclame

advertisement

sinema

cinéma

şef

chef

chief (not cook)

tren

train

vapur

vapeur

French meaning "steam", Turkish meaning "steamboat harbour"

vitrin

vitrine

showcase

3. Words with two changes:

avukat

avocat

advocate, lawyer

garaj

garage

kantin

cantine

canteen

kalorifer

calorifère

furnace

kartpostal

carte postale

postcard

lamba

lampe

lamp

restoran

restaurant

vazo

vase

4. Completely reworked words

ajans

agence

agency

aksesuar

accessoire

accessory

alyans

alliance

Turkish meaning "engagement ring"

apartman

appartement

flat, apartment

asansör

ascenseur

lift, elevator

banliyö

banlieue

suburb

berber

barbier

barber

bisküvi

biscuit

büro

bureau

çikolata

chokolat

ekselans

excellence

excellency

fayans

faïence

faiance

fuar

foire

fair

kalite

qualité

quality

kartvizit

carte de visite

business card

klozet

closette

bathroom

koaför

coiffeur

hairdresser

kolej

college

komodin

commode

commode, chest of drawers

kumanda

commande

command (noun)

kuzen

cousin

küvet

cuvette

bathtub

lisans

licence

lise

lycée

high school

makine

machine

manevra

manoeuvre

maneuver, exercise

misyon

mission

ofis

office

office

okul

ecole

school

omlet

omelette

omelet

peruk

perruque

wig

petibör

petit beurre

petit beurre, biscuit

piknik

pique-nique

picnic

randevu

rendez-vous

rendezvous

sabun

savon

soap

sekreter

secrétaire

secretary

sosyete

société

society

spor

sport

şans

chance

şifonyer

chiffoniere

make-up table

şifre

chiffres

digit

şoför

chauffeur

şok

choc

shock

şömine

cheminée

fireplace

turizm

tourisme

tourism

tuvalet

toilettes

bathroom

5. Foreign towns and countries are often pronounced like in French:

Londra

Londres

London

Norveç

Norvege

Norway

Danimarka

Danemark

Denmark

Kopenhag

Copenhague

Copenhagen

6. Pronouncing several consonants in the beginning of a word is often easier if you add an "i" in front:

istasionu

station, gare

station

İsviçre

Suisse

Switzerland

İsveç

Suede

Sweden

İspanya

Espagne

Spain

7. Three French words are used for cell phones and computers:

mesaj

message

text message, SMS

ekran

ecran

screen

hoparlör

hautparleur

loudspeaker

 

Links:

www.royalturkish.com/

www.etymonline.com

www.turkeytravelplanner.com/details/LanguageGuide/Pronunciation.html