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More Turkish Ambiguities

Haven't had enough, huh...?

In Turkey - Türkiye'de

Tüm kitap fırsatları için tıklayın !

Also Related Pages:
  • 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
  • Slick, tricky ones...

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    Ambiguous only when spoken...

    If you hear us say:

    Odamaçıktı.
    (as if it were a single word, with no noticeable break between syllables)

    Do you think we mean:

    a) Odam açıktı ; My room was opened, or

    b) Odama çıktı ; He went up to my room, or

    c) O dama çıktı ; She went up on that roof...

    DS sez..."And they tell us that Chinese is hard to pronounce and understand..."

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    Ambiguous when written or spoken...

    If we write (or say):

    Hırsız bakanın odasına girdi.

    Do you think we mean:

    a) Hırsız [with a break here] bakanın odasına girdi;
    The thief entered the room of the minister,

    or...

    b) Hırsız bakanın odasına [with a break here] girdi;
    She (or he) entered the room of the thieving minister!

    Learn Turkish language
    Can you tell which meanings reflect the speaker's (writer's) thoughts?
    Jump over to the
    Avoiding Ambiguities page -- to find out...

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    How's the following spelling ambiguity strike you...?
    [the dashes are shown below just for clarity]
    1. el means hand
    2. el-i means his hand
    3. el-i-n-de means in his hand
    4. el-in means your hand
    5. el-in-de means in your hand...
      That's the same Turkish spelling as item 3, but a different meaning!
    Not a very big difference in meaning, you say? Well, 'spose gold bullion was the subject -- in his or your hand. Then would it make a difference?

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    Mix-up between varmak; to arrive ...
    and var; there exists

    In written Turkish, you are justified in doing a double take upon seeing the word vardı -- and any other such verb tense constructions that may be based on the verb varmak; to arrive or
    var; he/she/it exists
    .

    For, by itself like that, vardı can mean either he arrived (the past tense of varmak) or there existed ["there was"] -- the latter meaning of vardı arising from a concatenation of the word var plus the word idi. So you have to rely on the context of a written sentence to tell the difference between meanings.

    Thus, the meaning of vardı is clear only when seen in the context of the following example sentences...

    Saat dokuzda vardı; He arrived at nine o'clock.

    Masada bir kitap vardı; There was (There existed) a book on the table.

    A similar ambiguity arises with all the Turkish nouns. For example, consider the noun adam; man and the two possible meanings which arise when the suffix -im is applied --

    1) adamım; my man
    2) adamım; I am a man.

    Not until the word is securely wrapped in a sentence does the meaning become clear...

    Adamımı severim; I love my man.

    Halden anlıyan bir adamım; I am a man of the world.

    Still another example of this sort of ambiguity arises with all the Turkish verbs...For example, take the verbal derivative yuzme. You can't say for sure what it means until you see how the word is used in a sentence...

    Kirli suda yuzme; Don't swim in dirty water.

    Yuzme havuzu icine düştü; She fell into the swimming pool.

    In speech, you get a further clue (in addition to the sentence context) to help you differentiate between ambiguous meanings -- but you'll need to listen very carefully.

    Take the example with vardı above. When you listen and you hear the accent on the first syllable var, then the word means there is. And when you hear the accent on the second syllable then the word means he arrived.

    Don't underestimate this ambiguity...Var is a very important Turkish word in it's own right that literally means there exists, but which also has connotations of there is, I have, you have, he/she/it has, we have, they have, I own, you own, etc. And, along with yok and şey is one of the most used words in the Turkish language.

    So it'll pay you to avoid mistaking it for something else when you see or hear it.

    Also Related Pages:
  • 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
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