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SOAS Language Centre

Turkish at SOAS Language Centre

Turkish is a language spoken by 65–73 million people worldwide, predominantly in Turkey, with smaller communities of speakers in Cyprus, Greece and Eastern Europe, as well as by several million immigrants in Western Europe, particularly Germany, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages.

Turkish is a member of the Turkic branch of the Altaic family of languages and therefore completely unrelated to the two languages it was mostly influenced by: Persian and Arabic. Given that the basic structures of the Turkic languages are not radically different, a knowledge of Turkish goes a long way anywhere in the Turkic world, from Istanbul to Urumchi.

There is no verb ‘to be’ in Turkish, and no verb ‘to have’. Turkish is free of the ‘grammatical disease’ of gender. It is an agglutinative language: a root noun in a sentence will often have a string of six, seven, or even eight suffixes. It can produce single word-sentences, if not some of the longest words possible:

e.g. Amerika+lı+laş-tır-a-ma-dık+lar+ımız+dan+mış+sınız                              

‘You appear to be one of those whom we have been unable to Americanize’.

SOAS Language Centre in London offers a number of courses in Turkish: