The 'missing' Turkish articles of grammar may cause Turkish language-learning difficulties...
Where'd the Turkish article words go?
How to adapt for the missing 'a', 'an', 'the' words in Turkish...

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Learning Turkish Language Difficulties

The Lost Articles
of Turkish Language Grammar

Give me an a and an an and a the ...

In Turkey - Türkiye'de

Tüm içecek fırsatları için tıklayın !

Language-learning pages:
  • How To Learn Basic Turkish --
    A Practical Philosophy for beginners

    (Found in the 'Introduction to The Whole Earth Catalog of Turkish Movies'.)
  • Why Off-color language is important too...
  • English and Turkish Article Usage
    Article "rich" versus article "poor"
    Is one way better than the other?

    The English way We English-speakers always sprinkle our conversation liberally with grammatical articles when discussing the daily news with a friend...


    Marvin: Did you hear, Mabel? The Non-Smoking Call Girl's Union of South Dakota is suing the ex-President for a half-trillion dollars.

    Mabel: No, Marvin, I didn't. What's the charge?

    Marvin: They haven't decided yet. But, they promise to let him know before the trial starts.

    Mabel: Well, whatever it is, I hope they get a bundle. After all, it did happen on his watch, right?

    Marvin: Right. Now, will ya' please pass the beer?

    Mabel: Would you like an egg in the beer, Marv?

    Marvin: Honey, you're the greatest...

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    But, when it comes to our newspaper headlines, we've gotten used to the article-less approach...


    Call Girl's Union Sues ex-President
    for Half-Trillion Dollars

    Landmark Sex & Smoking Issues under Debate
    in South Dakota


    The Turkish Way Well, it turns out that the Turkish language comes out in favor of this article-less approach in the majority of written and spoken cases. The idea that "Less is More" finds a happy home in Turkish.

    So, you may have some additional adjustments to make as you tackle the difficulties of Turkish expression (and comprehension) -- difficulties that arise because of the general [but, not total] lack of articles in the language.

    Learn Turkish language

    Translating Articles from Turkish to English

    "Rule" for including the the article --
    during translation

    Take this simple article-less Turkish sentence:

    Şarap dömisek.

    Since wine is not inherently semi-dry, it's understood that this sentence refers to some particular wine. So the the article should be included as part of the English translation.

    The wine is semi-dry.
    slurp...

    Therefore, the general rule is:
    To denote particular meaning, you should include the the article during translation.

    But this rule doesn't cover inclusion of the the article
    in an English sentence like,

    The camel is an oddly shaped creature;
    [Deve garip şekilli bir yaratıktır]

    in which "The camel" is surely meant to denote camels-in-general --
    not a particular camel.

    So there are exceptions to this rule...

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    "Rule" for excluding the the article

    Take another simple article-less sentence:

    Elmaslar ölümsüzdür.

    In this case, the sentence relates to the general, inherent characteristic of diamonds -- that they are a girl's best friend (oh yes...and long-lasting too). So the the article should be excluded from the English translation.

    Diamonds are forever.

    Therefore, the general rule is:
    To carry general, inherent meaning, you should exclude the the article during translation.

    But this rule doesn't cover exclusion of the the article
    in an English sentence like,

    Congress has failed to accomplish its goals again;
    [Meclis amacına yine ulaşamadı]

    in which this "Congress" is surely a particular one.
    Because... not all Congresses, all over the world,
    fail always to accomplish their goals.
    (We know for a fact that the one in Southern Ooobopshabamstan
    recently succeeded in voting itself another pay raise --
    and that's a time-honoured Congressional goal, if there ever was one.)

    Anyway...Trust us. There are exceptions to this rule, too...

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    Exceptions to the rules

    But you may ask, "Well, if those are the rules, then why doesn't,

    Michigan soğuktur...

    translate as,

    The Michigan is cold...?"

    "That's a particular statement, isn't it?"
    you continue...
    "Michigan isn't inherently cold.
    So why doesn't the rule apply?
    Why isn't the article included?"

    Well, the answer is because Michigan is a special kind of proper noun, that is exempt from this rule.

    And remember too that general-concept nouns --
    like destiny, espionage, and fidelity --
    rarely, if ever, appear with articles in well-spoken English.
    Oh, we suppose you could say,

    "James Bond engages in the espionage,"
    but, if you mangled our language like that, we'd know you were
    from SMERSH, wouldn't we?


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    Exceptions to the exceptions
    (Say...These are English language peculiarities, remember.
    Don't blame Turkish...)

    "Weeel then," you ask again, "why does the proper noun in,

    New York Yankees,
    kendi sahasında ince çizgili takım elbise giyer...

     On CD...

    get translated with the the article included:

    The New York Yankees wear
    pin-striped uniforms at home.
    ...?"

    "Furthermore," you continue, "it's 'inherently' true that the Yanks wear pinstriped uniforms at their home stadium, so (for two reasons then) shouldn't the article be excluded -- according to the above rules? Shouldn't the sentence be translated as,

    New York Yankees wear
    pin-striped uniforms at home
    ...?"

    Well, the answer is no. And it's because some English proper (and most 'ordinary') nouns are usually, if not always, associated with a grammatical article such as:

    the Yankees, the Labor Relations Board,
    the Supreme Court,
    the (or an) ocean, the (or a) star,
    the (or a) galaxy
    ...

    So such nouns always get translated from Turkish to English together with the appropriate article...

    unless, of course,
    (are you getting tired of this?)
    they are matched up with a personal pronoun,
    as in:

    City council'imiz her salı toplanır;
    Our City Council meets every Tuesday.

    Redskins'im Super Bowlı kazandı;

    My Redskins won the Super Bowl!

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    (Sometimes) Required Articles

    Sometimes you can't avoid translating articles from Turkish to English -- such as when a noun (or noun phrase) is the direct object of a sentence.
    But, this is not a hard and fast rule -- as you'll see in a mo'.

    Observe the direct objects -- shown with their required articles -- in the following English sentences...

    Joe Montana arched the ball to Jerry Rice
    for another San Francisco touchdown
    .

    Hemingway enjoyed the running of the bulls
    at Pamplona.

    Diana captured the hearts
    of the British people.

    But, as you know, just because an English noun (or noun phrase) serves as a direct object, it doesn't mean that it must be fronted by an article.

    The following sentences have direct objects --
    but no article.

    Georgia O'Keefe painted flower pictures
    that were controversial.

    Janis Joplin sang "Bobbie McGee"
    when she was high.

    Bill Clinton likes chasing girls
    if Hillary isn't watching
    .

    (We're on a tautology binge, eh what!?)

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    Direct objects and articles

    In Turkish, the direct object suffix may indicate that the the article should be translated into English, as in:

    Saçımdan kurdela al;
    Take the ribbon from my hair.
    (As opposed to: Saçımdan kurdela al; Take a ribbon from my hair.)

    But, just because a direct object suffix has been attached to a Turkish noun, doesn't mean that the the article must always be translated into English.
    And that's because of considerations mentioned earlier --
    considerations to do with English proper nouns like Michigan
    (and with general-concept nouns like espionage)...

    For example, even though "Bobbie McGee" is the specific direct object in the following sentence,
    we wouldn't say:

    Janis Joplin sang the "Bobbie McGee"
    when she was high.

    Nonetheless, in the corresponding Turkish sentence
    "Bobbie McGee" does carry the direct object suffix.

    Janis Joplin,
    alkol etkisi altında olduğunda
    "Bobbie McGee"yi söyledi.

    (There's more about Specific and Non-specific Direct Objects
    in the next section below...)

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    Translating Articles from English to Turkish

    Translating articles in the other direction -- from English to Turkish -- isn't half so brain-busting. Most of the time you just forget about 'em.

    In fact, the only time you include any trace of an article during such translation is in the specific direct object case.
    (See some examples below.)

    So if you just remember always to use the Turkish direct object suffixes (i, ı, ü, u) -- in accordance with
    the Rule of Vowel Harmony
    when you translate specific English direct objects --
    then you can never go wrong.

    But, don't forget the
    possible need for a buffer letter (the letter y or the letter n) between vowels --
    when you add the direct object suffix.
    You may have already noticed, but you can't have
    two vowels coming together in a 'pure' Turkish word.
    Check out the "Specific Direct Object"
    Turkish sentence examples below
    to see the 'buffer' letters at work.

    Specific Direct Object:
    The woman watched the male stripper;
    Kadın erkek striptizciyi seyretti.
    Note the 'y' buffer letter...

     On CD...

    Non-specific:
    The male stripper believed she was a policewoman;
    Erkek striptizci, kadının polis olduğunu anladı.

     On CD...

    Specific Direct Object:
    Bonnie and Clyde robbed the Wells Fargo bank;
    Bonnie ve Clyde Wells Fargo bankasını soydu.
    Note the 'n' buffer letter...

     On CD...

    Non-specific:
    But, they didn't have to do time in jail;
    Fakat, cezaevinde hiç yatmamalıdılar.
    (because they were so hole-y...)

     On CD...

    Specific Direct Object:
    In Turkey, we toured Bingöl;
    Türkiyede, Bingöl gezdik.

     On CD...

    (Note the required direct object suffix, because Bingöl is a specific place,
    even though the the English article isn't present...)

    Non-specific:
    I saw thousands of lakes
    in the vicinity of Bingöl;

    Bingölün çevresinde binlerce göl gördüm.

     On CD...


    Specific Direct Object:
    In South America, we visited Peru;
    Güney Amerikada, Peruyu ziyaret ettik.

     On CD...
    (Note the required direct object suffix, because Peru is a specific place,
    even though the the English article isn't present.
    Also note the 'y' buffer letter...)

    Non-specific:
    I came face to face with
    a black widow (spider) there;

    Orada kara dul ile karşı karşıya geldim.
     On CD...

    Therefore, except in the case of specific direct objects, you can totally ignore the concept of English articles when translating from English to Turkish!
    Now, iddin' tha' nice...

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    One final exception to all the above
    (You knew there was going to be one, didn't you?)

    Using bir to mean a or an

    There is just one instance where the Turkish language seems to give a damn about articles. And that's when, if you wish, you can force the meaning of the English articles a or an through the use of the Turkish word bir (which usually means one).

    Peruda kara bir dula kur yapmıştım;
    I tried to cozy up to a black widow (woman) in Peru.

     On CD...

    O benim tarafımdan yapılan bir hataydı;
    That was an error on my part.

     On CD...

    Eşim kıskanç bir kadındır;
    My wife is a jealous woman.

     On CD...

    Şimdi, bir siyah gözüm var;
    I now have one black eye.

     On CD...

    Note the positioning of bir -- in all sentences above.
    As long as the
    bir fronts the noun, it should be translated as 'a' or 'an'.
    But if
    bir fronts the adjective, then it is usually translated as 'one'.

    Still...it is somewhat curious that the meaning of these example sentences would be about the same -- with or without the bir.

    So who knows why there is this use of it?

    Probably for emphasis, we guess.
    But, for what sort of emphasis?
    For an emphasis that has an obscure origin, we opine.
    Too obscure for our limited brainpower, we fear...




    Language-learning pages:
  • How To Learn Basic Turkish --
    A Practical Philosophy for beginners

    (Found in the 'Introduction to The Whole Earth Catalog of Turkish Movies'.)
  • Why Off-color language is important too...
  • Translating Turkish, the basics
  • Translating Turkish, advanced
  • Essential Turkish Vocabulary
  • Turkish Verbs
  • Essential Idioms, Index
  • Essential Suffixes, Index
  • Sentence Structure, Standard
  • Sentence Structure Variations
  • Turkish Pronunciation
  • Turkish Accenting
  • Turkish Numbers Revealed
  • Other Turkish Language Difficulties
  • Unrelated fun:
  • Maganda, The Racy Turkish Lout -- a risqué illustration of the word zipper
  • Aysel, The Turkish Lout's daughter -- has a sexy job interview technique
  • Ferdi Tayfur - Arabesque (Arabesk) Singing Sensation
  • Turkish Movies - Best-Looking Bad Girl of the 1970s, Sevda Ferdağ
  • Bad Girls of the 1970s Turkish Cinema, Aliye Rona
  • Frequently asked questions about Turkey and the Turkish language
  • llustrated Nargile Users Guide -- and Encyclopedia
  • Our Honda Generator -- A Member of the Family
  • Habibullah and The Great Cannon Caper
  • Turkish Tongue Twisters
  • Turkish Belly Dancers
  • Turkish Tango, Dance the Romance
  • Turkish Terms Of Endearment
  • Turkish Personal Names
  • Politically Incorrect Turkish Humor
  • Why Off-Color Turkish is important too
  • Gossipy Turkish Who's Who
  • Turkish Kinsey Report #6 - Turkish Turn-Ons
  • Turkish Kinsey Report #1 - Turkey opens up about its seks
  • Turkish Kinsey Report #2 - Did they hear it through the grapevine?
  • Turkish Kinsey Report #3 - Was it good for you?
  • Turkish Kinsey Report #4 - The first time, by age group...
  • Turkish Kinsey Report #5 - Who's gotta have it? He? Or she?
  • Hülya Avşar -- in a league of her own
  • Translating Danielle Steele
  • Learn Turkish language

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