The Transposed Sentence
always wondered why ordinary Turkish-speaking people in the street
had difficulties in understanding long and complicated sentences.
I think the (reverse) Turkish Language word order is the reason. Technically
speaking, it requires a kind of "memory" to store all
the necessary operational parameters until the operation code
(verb) is caught. Because of this "memory" requirement,
many of us (colloquially) prefer simple sentences. As an evolving
language, Turkish has its own action. I see a remarkable increase
in the use of verb-near-the-beginning sentences, as in English.
It seems more natural (in agreement with the natural way of thinking),
Mehmet Un, 1997
insightful, man-in-the-street observation provides a serviceable
segue into discussion about the Devrik Cümle (DC) [or
'Transposed Sentence' (also
known as 'Inverted Sentence')].
It's a subject with some built-in controversy since a few Turkish Language
linguists complain that it is a modern invention of
the devil by rebellious
Turkish artistes -- that has corrupted the Turkish language. In
fact its origins are not at all modern (but we'll get to that
later). Others see it
as an attack on the language by uneducated village people.
(You're problee wonderin' to yourself,
"The Village People..? in Turkey..? too..?"
Well, it's not the same group.)
But most folks,
like Mehmet Bey, see it as a useful variation of
standard Turkish Language for easier communication and understanding.
Still... before you
try to make up your
mind whether it's devil
let's see exactly what it is -- this Devrik Cümle.
it is Turkish Language in which
Word Order Rules are partially
following for full coverage of the
Standard Turkish Language Word Order Rules...
And the main
characteristic of a Turkish Language
sentence written (or
spoken) in the Devrik Cümle style
verb in the sentence finally gets some respect!
It gets promoted
from the back-end of the sentence
to the middle or the front-end of the sentence (And
in the process, the word-order pattern can coincidentally
begin to resemble that found in English).
general, 'Transposed Sentence' structure is found most frequently
in spoken Turkish Language, poetry, colloquial expressions, proverbs, and
or in situations where the writer/speaker wants to
energize, or intensify
course it is most effective when used sparingly.
Let's be clear now
Turkish Language Word Order in
a sentence follows the pattern of Subject
second, and Verb... dead last. For example:
In a 'Transposed Sentence' the
word order pattern is more flexible and can be Subject
-- or, in
the case of a Command or a Question, it
can be Verb first, Subject
and Object last
table for examples).
So, when it's transposed, the
example from above could look like:
Note how the word-order
pattern of this very simple Turkish Language sentence
the English sentence word-order pattern.
Now, if only all
Turkish Language sentences were so simple...
< sigh >
Let's take a look at some other
Standard Turkish Language
or Colloquial, Poetic, Idiomatic, Proverbial
Sentence Word Order
(Type of Sentence)
|Ingilizce bilen var mı?!
||Var mı Ingilizce bilen?!
anyone who knows
|O hırsızı yakala!
||Yakala o hırsızı!
||Catch that thief!
||Hurray for my Redskins!
|Marvin geneleve gidiyor.
||Marvin şeye gidiyor -- geneleve.
||Marvin is going to the whatchamacallit -- the brothel.
(Lapsed Memory Statement)
|Mabel onu orada bulursa, öldürür.
||Orada bulursa Mabel, öldürür onu.
||If Mabel finds him there, she'll kill him.
|Adı dokuza çıkmış, sekize inmez.
||Adı çıkmış dokuza, inmez sekize.
||He's got a bad reputation,
and he can't get his good name back.
[His (bad) reputation reached a (high level of) 9, it can't descend back to 8]
|Harman dövmek çayır kuşunun işi değildir.
||Çayır kuşunun işi değildir harman dövmek.
||The meadow bird should not be called upon to help thresh the corn.
[Threshing corn is not the job of the meadow bird.]
from a Turkish Language text
written in 1071
by Kaşgârli Mahmut
|Gençlik gitti gelmez, ihtiyarlık geldi gitmez.
||Gitti gelmez gençlik, geldi gitmez ihtiyarlık.
||Youth left and it won't come back, old age came and it won't go away.
|The first three table entries are examples of enlivened language. The next two are examples of colloquial language. The final three are examples of idiomatic, poetical, and proverbial language.
Together, they represent the Devrik Cümle style-types
that you are most likely to see in Turkish Language.
The 'Transposed Sentence'
is not a Modern Invention, but
The Transposed Sentences in the
table, above, represent quite common examples of modern Turkish Language -- and some of them, like the last two entries, have been around for centuries.
But it's also fair to say that
after Atatürk established the modern Turkish Republic and then introduced sweeping language reform in 1928, there began to emerge in Turkey a school
of writers who purposely avoided traditional word order
rules, even in formal writing. And those writers of the Devrik Cümle
school continue to have a strong public following, especially
among young people, so DC's place in the language is well
One of the most prominent members
of the Devrik Cümle writers group (perhaps DC's most influential proponent)
was Nurullah Ataç (1898-1958), an author and a critic.
When asked to comment on the DC group's writing style, he replied
in the typical DC-informal speaking style,
beş kişiyiz böyle söyliyen, biliyoruz çoğunluğa
are just a few of us who speak like this,
know we won't be able to explain [ourselves] to the majority."
But, as a mature artist, he always
wrote in the Devrik Cümle style -- and when more and better writers emulated
him -- Turkish literature (and the language, in general) entered a new era.
Just below is a longer selection of his --
together with an approximate English translation.
It's entitled "For the Young [Writers]" and it addresses perceptions
[by members of
the reading public]
the Devrik Cümle writing style
and it opens at once with an example of
the DC style.
Later in the selection, there's a further example of DC.
Shame on you if you can't find it!
That was a clue, mon cher...
Beware of this writing selection...It's
rather difficult to follow in places --
so you may want
to familiarize yourself with
the English translation
the following Turkish Language source text.
gözükmelerine; ne derlerse desinler, o gençleri,
o uslu uslu gençleri beğendikleri yalandır.
Denemesi kolay: bir dergiyi, o koşmalardan
birini yüksek sesle okuyun, ara sıra da gözlerinizi
kaldırıp o baş sallayarak dinleyenlere bakın;
yüzlerinde bir sıkıntı, bir bunalma görürsünüz.
Öyle çok okumanızı istemezler, gene
ötekilerin, yenilik arayan gençlerin sözü
açılsın diye beklerler. Niçin, bilir
misiniz? Güldüklerine, kızdıklarını,
anlamıyoruz demelerine bakmayın, onları anlarlar,
onları beğenirler, onları severler de onun için.
Yalnız anladıklarını, beğendiklerini,
sevdiklerini açikca söyleyemezler, utanırlar
. Babalarından, ağa-babalarından
öğrendiklerine, ötedenberi yerleşmiş
güzelliklere benzemeyen, uymayan sözleri beğenmeleri
ağırlarına gider, bundan kurtulmak isterler.
O gençleri yermeleri, o gençlere öfkelenip
gülmeleri, doğrusunu isterseniz, kendi kendilerini yermek
içindir, kendi kendilerine öfkelendikleri içindir.
Bir kisi, ne
demek olduğunu anlamadığı sözlere boyuna
gülüp durabilir mi? Bıkar, sıkılır
de biraz olsun anlamak demektir. Büsbütün anlamadığımız
bir söze gülemeyiz ki! Gülüyorlar, kızıyorlar,
demek anlıyorlar. Öyle olmasa, başlarını çevirir, başka bir yerden açarlardı.
Biraz zor, değil mi?
the Young [Writers]
the looks [of the readers]; no matter what they say,
it's a lie that they [the readers] like the "bright, intelligent, well-behaved"
young writers's [ways]. There's an easy test: Take a magazine
and read one of the old folk poems in a loud voice, and occasionally
raise your eyes to look around to see who's listening; you'll
see the listeners shaking their heads in [apparent] boredom and
distress. They don't [seem to] want you to read, they
are waiting to hear about young writers.
Do you know why? Don't pay attention to what they say [negatively]
about their laughing, about their anger, about their not understanding [the young writers]
-- it's that they [actually]
like [the young writing style], even love it. But they can't openly
say that they understand it, like it, and love it -- they are embarrassed
to say that. The writing style is not as taught by their fathers
and fore-fathers, it doesn't resemble long-established standards
of "excellence", it bothers them that they like this
unsuitable style, and they want to escape from it. They are critical of the young, they are laughing at
and angry with the young, but if you want
the truth, it's because they are [actually] critical of themselves,
it's because they are [actually] angry with themselves.Oof...
If a person
doesn't understand the [spoken] words then how can he laugh [at
them]? He [may seem] fed up, bored
but [if] he laughs -- it
means he understands something. We [humans] can't laugh at something
we don't understand at all! [So when readers] laugh,
display anger, it means they understand [the Devrik Cümle writing style]. If not, they'd turn their heads, and give their attention elsewhere.
Kinda heavy, what?
It's Decision Time!
So which is it, dear reader? Devil
Well, we like it
here at LPT (as
if that mattered)
Because, in small doses,
it does seem to add vigor and interest
to Turkish Language expressions.
And besides that -- it's
much more forgiving of us
Turkish language strugglers as we try
to get ourselves understood
on the streets of İzmir, Gümüldür, and Selçuk!
If Turks weren't
already used to non-standard word order,
could be in a real pickle --
because the sentences
don't always roll
off our tongues in strict accordance with the rules.
Marvin's sentences don't -- that's fer shur
style doesn't replace
Turkish Language Word Order. It's
a variant, and if it's deliberately (or mistakenly) overdone --
it can muddle your intended meaning beyond recognition!
By the way, you
may not have noticed,
but we've used some Devrik Cümle style on other pages of the site,
our dirty little secret
You can see examples
by clicking on the following links
A simple Turkish 'thing'
Proverbs with Var and Yok
to G.L. Lewis, Mehmet Hengirmen, Mehmet Un,
and Albert Sarda
for inspiring this article.