Vowel harmony

This concept scared me right away. Is the Turkish language like Mandarin (Chinese), which depends on tones? I am so bad with matching pitch. ­čÖü
But no, it seems to do with pronunciation, with phonetics, but not tone. Whew/ (and if I’m wrong oy oy trouble on the way!) Turkish uses suffixes extensively, and has a flexible syntax, words are used in different positions resulting only in differences of style, not meaning. I’ll have to learn the difference between types of clauses better than I know them now. ­čÖü
The author, Hikmet Sebüktekin, of the text I bought describes the content of words and utterances this way: “Turkish is tradition-bound. The mere mention of a single word referring to a cliché, a proverb, or an anecdote, of which there are thousands, often suffices to activate complex meanings stored in the mind of every Turkish speaker” (v).
This is one of the things Marie Gillespie discussed in her presentation at Crossroads 2006 on politics and translation, translating politics, although (I think) her examples were Arabic. It also reminds me very much of Lila Abu-Lughod’s anthropological study of the Awlad ‘Ali, a Bedouin culture. Particularly the way women used language. She says the men do this as well but she had more access to the women and their ways of speaking.
Turkish is regular, its “forms are put together with almost mathematical precision and utmost economy” (v). Thank you Atatürk! At least, I’m guessing there is a relationship between the development of the orthographic system and the present-day phonetics &emdash; but perhaps I am mistaken. It could be that the language was already auditorily rhythmic and the writing developed (with nearly perfect correspondence, each sound having one specific letter) to match. I’ll require a native informant to straighten me out on this, ácaba?
Turkic languages have a wide distribution and minimal linguistic differences among dialects: 90 million speakers in the Balkans, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq…Azerbaijan, Kazakstan, Kirghizstan, Tadzhikstan, Turmenistan, Uzbekistan…Afghanistan, China, Iran, and Russia. This on top of the 60 million native Turks.
two cats.jpg A painting, two cats in harmony, on diplay at Istavrit

One thought on “Vowel harmony”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.