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Learning Turkic Languages

What you'll find here | Pronunciation | Spelling | Copyright

What you'll find here

The following pages contain handy lists of words and phrases for the traveller in countries where Turkish is spoken. The Turkish as spoken in Turkey actually is only one of many Turkic languages, but they are all very closely related and generally speakers of one of these languages can communicate with speakers of another related one. This implies that if you know some (basic) Turkish you can more or less get around all the way from Turkey to Mongolia: in general, in many of the countries along the old Silk Road.

Of course there are differences; languages pick up words from neighboring languages (Tadjik words in Uzbek), for instance. And there are "sound shifts": a word that starts with a 'd' in Turkish may start with a 't' in Uzbek, 'o' can shift to 'u', etc. What complicates things is the fact that several different scripts are used (variations of latin script, cyrillic - sometimes with extensions - and arabic), and a single language can be written in different scripts in different places, or different moments in time.

Here, I've started with the languages that (at least in their main countries) are currently (officially) written in a Latin script; this makes side-by-side comparison a lot easier. The words and phrases you find here come from many different sources, both on-line and off-line.

For now, this is all still very incomplete, but I keep extending this material with what I can find and think is useful. Please come back frequently to see changes, corrections and additions! The location of this website is also preliminary; if you'd like to be notified when it moves to a more permanent location, just send me an email.


About pronunciation Wherever possible, words and phrases are linked to sound files with their pronunciation. If you try them, you'll see that even if the spelling looks different, the actual pronunciation may be a lot closer. [1]


Note that the spelling of Turkmen and Uzbek on this site is still a mish-mash of transliterations. Most web sites have trouble encoding the correct character set for Turkmen [2], and just make up their own transliteration. Sources for Uzbek are relatively few, and the on-line course of Uzbek I've based some of this material on is obviously not following the current official spelling either. In both cases I've done my best to 'transliterate back' to the correct spelling, but that involves a lot of guesswork without a proper dictionary to check. Where Turkmen words have a long vowel (that I'm aware of) I have indicated this by underlining the vowel since there are no sound files (yet) for Turkmen. I'd welcome suggestions for correct spelling of the Turkmen and Uzbek words and phrases here.

To correctly render both Turkish and Turkmen, you need to have a Unicode-capable browser, and Unicode fonts installed. These pages default to Arial Unicode MS [3] or Lucida Sans Unicode; If your browser or platform doesn't support Unicode, you can still have at least Turkish rendered correctly by installing a Turkish (sans-serif) font, and configuring your browser to use that font for the Turkish language. Uzbek will render correctly with any Latin script.


The words, phrases and sounds they link to are derived from many sources, but the compilation and ordering is mine. No other website (that I know of) presents these languages side-by-side.


1. If a word or sentence is a link, you can click on it to get the sound file with its pronunciation. There are .au, .ra, .rm and .wav files (depending on language). For the Windows platform, RealOne player is capable of rendering all these formats; you can download the free RealOne player. For other platforms, see the Sound Help Page. (back)

2. These images illustrate how the current official Turkmen alphabet is basically a transliteration from the previous cyrillic spelling. (back)

3. Several Unicode fonts can be downloaded from the Microsoft Typography website. They are standard TrueType fonts, and will work on any platform that supports TrueType. Microsoft Windows NT® 4, Microsoft Windows 2000, Microsoft Windows XP, Microsoft Office 97 and later, and Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 and later all support Unicode. See also General Information About the Arial Unicode MS Font. (back)

© 2002 Marjolein Katsma Nedstat statistics Valid CSS! Valid XHTML 1.0!
Sources: http://www.hazar.com/ | http://www.sambuh.com/ | http://www.travlang.com/ | http://www.icctm.org/ | http://www2.egenet.com.tr/mastersj/