Turkish Consonant Mutation, Turkish Consonant Mutation

Turkish Consonant Mutation

Turkish Consonant Mutation

Consonant Mutation

Changes in spelling to reflect changes in pronunciation.

In Turkish the spelling of the words is changed when the pronunciation changes.

English does not change spelling when pronounciation changes.

English changes the spelling when the pronunciation is the same so that we can recognize the meaning.

A number of words can easily show this: meet vs meat, feet vs feat, right vs write, main vs mane, sea vs see

If English were written phonetically the word "does" should be spelt "duz"

Turkish however being a phonetically written language will make these changes in spelling.

The reason for the changes in pronunciation are for ease of speaking.

Turkish consonant change is mainly between voiced and unvoiced consonants.

Voicing of Consonants

Turkish Unvoiced Consonants: p ç t k f h s ş

The voice is silent and only air is expelled.

Turkish Voiced Consonants: b c d g

The voice is used to produce the sound.

Final consonants in Turkish words are Un-Voiced: p ç t k f h s ş

There are a few exeptions in foreign imported vocabulary. A few words end in b, d.

letter mektup
my letter is mektubum [mektub-um]
the terminal -p has changed to -b-

Prounciation is easier n its Voiced form between vowels b

Turkish spelling must reflect this change for the rules of phonetics to operate.

Turkish Terminal Consonants are Unvoiced. p ç t k f h s ş

Words can not end with the voiced consonants b, c, d, g.

Words must end in the equivalent unvoiced forms p, ç, t, k to finish pronunciation without continuity.

This helps the listener to determine word breaks in conversation.

kebab cooked meat is wrong kebap is correct.

The name Mehmed is wrong Mehmet is correct.

Beach Pub Sign

In the photograph Turkish has written Sahil Pup [Beach Pub.]

The English word Pub [public house] ends unvoiced in the Tukish spelling Pup.






A real-life example
The Turkish writer has used the natural un-voiced P on the end of the English word LAMB

Consonant Equivalents

  • UnVoiced ↔ Voiced

  • p ↔ b

  • ç ↔ c

  • t ↔ d

  • k ↔ ğ

  • s ≠ −

  • ş ≠ −

  • h ≠ −

The letters s, ş, h do not have a unvoiced form.

They are not true voiced consonants but but they do affect added suffixes.

  • nefis delicious → nefistir it is delicious
    [not nefisdir.]

  • sabah morning → sabahtan from morning
    [not sabahdan]

  • güneş sun → güneşten from the sun
    [not güneşden]

Change of terminal -k to soft ğ

Terminal letter -k changes to  when a vowel is suffixed to he word.

  • gelecek will come → geleceğim I will come
    [geleceğ + im]

This change occurs both in suffixes and verb tense and mood endings.

The exceptions where no change is made are very few.
Change K ↔ Ğ is widespread as many Turkish words end in a terminal -K

Turkısh Consonant Mutation K ↔ Ğ
köpek dog köpeğim [köpek + im] my dog
bacak leg bacağın [bacak + ın] your leg
topuk ankle topuğu [topuk + u] his ankle
bilek wrist bileğimiz our wrists
gözlük spectacles gözlüğünüz your spectacles
durak bus stop durağa to the bus stop
görecek will see göreceğim I shall see
yaptık we did yaptığımız that which we did
bardak glass (tumbler) bardağı his glass

Turkish K ↔ G Exception

Terminal -nk changes to -ng [NOT -nğ]

The letter cluster -nğ plus an added vowel is unpronounceable:

  • denk bale, equation →
    dengim my bale

  • ahenk harmony, accord
    ahengi its harmony

  • kepenk shutter
    kepenginiz your shutter

  • renk color
    rengimiz our colour

Other Turkish Consonant Changes

Other unvoiced consonants which change to their voiced form in front of suffixed vowels:

  • UnVoiced ↔ Voiced

  • -p → -b

  •  → -c

  • -t → -d

Examples of Turkish Consonant Change

  • kitap book →
    kitabın your book

  • öğüt advice →
    öğüdüm my advice

  • tat taste →
    tadı its taste

  • ilaç medicine →
    ilacı his medicine

  • ağaç tree →
    ağacın the tree's

Non-mutating Turkish Words

These single syllable words do not change their final consonant.

Non-mutating Turkish Words
ak white akı the white/his white
at horse atı the horse/his horse
ek addition eki the addition/its addition
et meat eti the meat/his, her, its meat
göç migration göçü the migration
ip rope ipi the rope
kaç? how many? kaçıncı? which one?
kök root kökü the root/its root
ok arrow oku the arrow/his arrow
ot grass otu the grass/its grass
saç hair saçı the hair/his, her hair
sap handle sapı the handle/its handle
suç fault suçu the fault/his,her, its fault
süt milk sütü the milk/his, her its milk
üç three üçü the three/trio

Mutating Turkish Words

These single syllable words do change their final consonant.

Mutating Turkish Words
but thigh budu the thigh/his,her,its thigh
dip bottom/base dibi the bottom/the base/its bottom
çok a lot/much/very çoğu the lot/his, her, its lot
gök sky göğü the sky/its sky
kap vessel (utensil) kabı the vessel/his vessel
kurt worm/wolf kurdu the worm, the wolf/his wolf
point/tip/end ucu the point/his, her, its point
yurt tent, village yurdu the tent, the village

Turkish Single Syllable Exceptions:

There are a few words which do end in voiced consonants.

This is to make their meaning recognizable from similar words termonating in an unvoiced consonant.

These few words are exceptions to the general rule.

ad nameat horse
od fireto grass
sac sheet ironsaç hair

Proper Names:

Proper Names do not change in writing.

Memed'in is only valid in spoken language.

It is written as Mehmet'in but is pronounced Memedin

The letter -h- is always articulated and pronounced in Turkish.

The name Mehmet is an exception.

It is always pronounced as Memed through constant usage.

Burak'ın (as written) Burağın (as spoken).

Mutation of Turkish Suffixes

  • Turkish Suffix Mutation

  • Unvoiced p ↔ Voiced b

  • Unvoiced ç ↔ Voiced c

  • Unvoiced t↔ Voiced d

  • Unvoiced k ↔ Voiced ğ

  • Unvoiced s ≠ -

  • Unvoiced ş ≠ -

  • Unvoiced h ≠ -

  • Words ending in -p -ç -t -k change to -b -c -d -ğ when suffixed with a vowel:

  • The word root mutates:

  • dolap cupboard →
    dolabınız your cupboard.

  • kağıt paper →
    kağıdı the paper. (obj.)

  • Suffixes beginning with -d → -t when added to words teminating in -p -ç -t -k.

  • The suffix mutates:

  • -de/-da in/on/at → -te/-ta

  • ayak foot → ayakta on the foot.

  • -den/-dan from, via → -ten/-tan

  • ağaç tree → ağaçtan from the tree.

Turkish Suffix Mutation Examples

  • kitap book →
    kitapta in the book
    [NOT kitap-da]

  • otobüs bus →
    otobüstü it was a bus
    [NOT otobüs-dü]

  • dolmuş dolmush (small bus) →
    dolmuşta in the dolmush
    [NOT dolmuş-da]

  • ilaç medicine →
    ilaçta in the medicine
    [NOT ilaç-da]

  • sabah morning →
    sabahtan from morning
    [NOT sabah-dan]

  • kibrit match →
    kibritten from the match
    [NOT kibrit-den]

kibrit → kibritten. preserves a double letter -tt- when adding -ten

Two separate words match and from being joined together.

Each word retains its full form.

Some words from Arabic that terminate -at are exceptions: Saat hour, time, clock becomes saatte on the clocksaatler clocks.

This word from Arabic obeys neither consonant mutation or vowel harmony rules.

Mutation of words ending in Unvoiced Consonants (‑p ‑ç ‑t ‑k.):

Adding a suffix which begins with a consonant.
kitaptı [kitap-tı] it was a book

Kitap ends in unvoiced -p → kitap-tı.
The suffix -tı takes its unvoiced form from the noun ending.

The same example when adding a Suffix which begins with a Vowel:

kitabınız [kitab-ınız] your book
Suffix -ınız begins with a vowel so kitap beomes kitab-ınız

kitabınızda [kitab-ınız-da] in your book
Extended word ends in voiced -z thus kitabınız-da

The suffix reverts to its voiced form when:

  • 1. added to words ending in an voiced (-b -c -d) consonant.

  • 2. added to the plural -ler/-lar.

  • 3. added to words ending in a vowel.

  • 4. added to already suffixed (extended) word which end in a wowel.

Examples of Nouns changing to Voiced Form when adding suffixes beginning with a vowel or the Plural Suffix -lar/-ler

  • köpekten from the dog
    köpeğinden from his dog

  • ilaçta in the medicine
    ilacında in his medicine

  • otobüsten from the bus
    otobüslerden from the buses

  • sokaktan from the street
    sokaklardan from the streets

In the last two examples above the voiced -r ending of the plural suffix -ler/-lar forces the subsequent suffix to take its voiced (-d) form.

Turkish Complete Consonant Mutation Rules

  • 1. If the word ends in any of these Unvoiced Consonants [p ç t k] :
    When adding a suffix beginning with a vowel, the last letter of the root word changes to its voiced form:
    p ↔ b ç ↔ c t ↔ d k ↔ ğ

  • kitap book →
    kitabı his book

  • kazanç profit →
    kazancı his profit

  • kilit lock →
    kilidi his lock

  • köpek dog →
    köpeğiniz Your dog

  • 2. If the word ends in an Unvoiced Consonant: [p ç t k f h s ş]
    When adding a suffix beginning with a consonant, the suffix changes to its unvoiced form [d ↔ t]
    t ↔ d

  • tıkaç plug, stopper →
    tıkaçtan from the plug

  • kitap book →
    kitaptan from the book

  • kilit lock →
    kilitte in the lock

  • köpek dog →
    köpekten from the dog

  • sabah morning →
    sabahtan from the morning

  • domates tomato →
    domatesten from the tomato(es)

  • giriş exit →
    girişte at the exit

  • raf shelf →
    raftan from the shelf

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