I’m currently sitting on the roof terrace of my hotel on Istanbul’s Golden Horn enjoying the heck out of the manzara, the really nice view. That’s right, Turkish has a word for a nice view. While I’m sitting here enjoying myself and thinking about Turkey I guess I should say a word about the Turkish language I’m studying.
Turkish is not, as many people assume because of Turkey’s location, in anyway grammatically related to Arabic or Persian. There are many Persian and Arabic loanwords, but grammatically Turkish is classified as Turkic language, and is related to many Central Asian languages including Uzbek, Azeri, Tatar, Turkmen, Uygur, et cetera. While you probably haven’t heard of any of these, about 200 million people speak Turkic languages worldwide. Interestingly enough, Turkish is also fairly closely related to Finnish and Japanese. I have heard this strange distribution attributed to the Turkic people fleeing Turan (the Turkic homeland) as a result of Genghis Khan’s Mongol Horde.
Turkish is a little difficult because the grammar is completely different than in English. Instead of prepositions, Turkish has postpositions that are added on to the ends of words. As a result, you can get words like “Cekoslavakyalilastiramadiklarimizdan” meaning “a person whom we could not turn into one from Czechoslovakia.” Another difficulty is that the verb comes at the end of the sentence, so you have to try to speak like Yoda; “Bardak masada var mi?”, “a glass- on the table- is there?”. Once you get used to this however, Turkish is much easier than it looks.