Turkish Adjectives
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Turkish Language
Adjective Heaven
or hell?

Part 1

Bring in the Nouns-helpers...

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Turkish Adjectives

Ordinary uses of Adjectives

The other morning, we were careening down the road toward the Aegean coastal resort town of Kuşadası in a beat-up dolmuş -- thinking about Turkish adjectives.

That may sound a little strange to you, but you have to realize
that the alternative to thinking about Turkish adjectives was
thinking about the danger we were in --
as we careened down the road in a beat-up dolmuş!!!
It was not a happy choice of thoughts...

Click following to learn what Driving in Turkey is really like...

Anyway...a particularly nasty bump in the road bounced us such that our head came to rest on the shoulder of a fellow passenger, two seats over and one row back. And we couldn't help noticing the opening paragraph of the novel she was trying to read...

"As I awoke, my bloated head throbbed painfully from the cheap red wine of the awful night before. It was a dank steamy morning; the sopping wet bedsheets clung to my aching body and as I removed the edge of the spit-stained pillow from my sputtering mouth, I tasted dirty duck-feather. A subdued light peeked through the swamp-green curtains. And when I reached out my shaking hand to stroke my boyfriend's shapely butt, I felt a rough furry texture that emitted a muffled 'oink'. Something was wrong..."


Are those red words the adjectives, Marvin?
Don't bother me, Mabel. I'm concentrating on the literature.

As you look at that English-language paragraph now, you probably notice that the adjectives perform ordinary 'modification' of ordinary nouns, and help to give the nouns a little more life. Well, you can use Turkish adjectives in the same ordinary way. For example,

Hızlı kahverengi köpek yavaş budala postacıyı ısırdı.
(The quick brown pooch bit the slow foolish mailman.)

But, as in English, Turkish adjectives may be used in more interesting ways...

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...
  • Learn Turkish language

    Adjectives used in comparative situations

    Expressing inequality and equality...

    When there is general inequality between (among) compared items, use '-den/dan daha' (more) or '-den/dan daha az' (less) together with the ordinary adjective...

    Bradley, Brunhilde'den daha çalışkandır -- Bradley is more industrious than Brunhilde.

    Bradley, Brunhilde'den daha az çalışkandır -- Bradley is less industrious than Brunhilde.

    Bradley, Brunhilde ve Benjamin'den daha çalışkandır -- Bradley is more industrious than [both] Brunhilde and Benjamin.

    Please, tell me about the Other uses of the suffix '-den/dan'...

    If one of the compared items is definitely superior (or inferior) to the other(s), you'll normally use 'en' together with the adjective...

    Bradley en şişman öğrencidir -- Bradley is the fattest (most fat) student.

    Brunhilde en gülünç öğrencidir -- Brunhilde is the funniest (most comical) student.

    En güzel ve en güvenli araba edseldir -- The best looking and safest car is the Edsel. burp `,,

    Here's a little chart that demonstrates the 'unequal' comparative use of Turkish adjectives:

    Ordinary use

    One item better/worse than the other(s)

    One item clearly superior/inferior to other(s)

    akıllı insan
    (an intelligent person)
    -den daha akıllı insandır (...is a more intelligent person than...) en akıllı insandır
    (...is the most intelligent person)
    büyük ev
    (a big house)
    -den daha büyük evdir
    (...is a bigger house than...)
    en büyük evdir
    (...is the biggest house)
    güzel gün
    (a pretty day)
    -den daha az güzel gündü
    (...was a less pretty day than...)
    en kötü gündü
    (...was the worst day)


    When there is equality between (among) compared items, you may use 'gibi' or 'kadar' together with the ordinary adjective form...

    Bradley, Brunhilde gibi çalışkandır -- Bradley, like Brunhilde, is industrious.

    Bradley, Brunhilde kadar çalışkandır -- Bradley is as industrious as Brunhilde.

    Bradley, Brunhilde ve Benjamin gibi çalışkandır -- Bradley, like Brunhilde and Benjamin, is industrious.


    Learn Turkish language

    Intensive Adjectives

    Now, one of the more interesting Turkish adjectival constructions arises when you add a prefix to 'intensify' the meaning of an adjective.

    You'll recall that we've had plenty of occasion to add suffixes
    to Turkish words, but this is the first (and almost only) occasion when it's acceptable (not to mention, correct and proper) to add a prefix...

    Intensifying prefixes ending in m, p, r, s

    Prefixes ending in 'm'...

    Ordinary adjective Intensified Example English meaning

    başka (other)

    bambaşka bambaşka kadın a completely different woman

    beyaz (white)

    bembeyaz

    (3k)

    bembeyaz araba

    an entirely white car

    boş (empty)

    bomboş

    bomboş kafa

    an absolutely empty head

    buruşuk (puckered, wrinkled)

    bumburuşuk

    bumburuşuk deri

    extremely wrinkled skin

    buz (ice)

    bumbuz
    Thanks JJG 1/02

    bumbuz terleme

    an icy-cold sweat(ing)

    dik (perpendicular)

    dimdik

    (3k)

    dimdik asker

    a precisely erect soldier
    düz (flat)

    dümdüz

    dümdüz yüzey

    a perfectly flat surface
    hınç
    (hard/ill feeling)Learn Practical Turkish Language color icon

    hıncahınç

    hıncahınç spor arenası

    a jam-packed sports arena

    sıcak (hot)

    sımsıcak

    sımsıcak kahve

    extremely hot coffee

    sıkı (tight)

    sımsıkı

    sımsıkı etek

    a very tight skirt

    sıkı (tight)

    sımsıkı

    Yavrum, sımsıkı sarıl bana!

    Hold me real tight, honey!
    [Oops, here's a prefixed word that's used as an intensified adverb...Well, we did say almost -- now didn't we...?]

    siyah (black)

    simsiyah

    simsiyah bulutlar

    deep black [storm] clouds

    takır (rattling sound)

    tamtakır tamtakır fıçı

    a completely empty barrel

    yeşil (green)

    yemyeşil

    yemyeşil çayır

    an absolutely green meadow

    bok (excrement)

    bombok bombok alet

    an utterly useless tool
    [although the root word, bok, is considered off-color, the use of bombok is quite common in everyday conversation]

    Sentence sample...
    'Deli' Googenheim bambaşka bir karakter.
    'Crazy' Googenheim was quite a different character.
    Huh?
    No one remembers Frank Fontaine's famous alter-ego,
    on The Jackie Gleason Show in the early 1960's?
    Jeez...

    Prefixes ending in 'p'...

    acı
    (spicy hot)

    apacı

    apacı tamale

    an outrageously hot tamale

    açık
    (open)

    apaçık apaçık ihanet an openly obvious infidelity

    açık (clear)

    apaçık apaçık sinyal a very clear signal

    ayrı
    (separate)

    apayrı
    Thanks JJG 3/00

    apayrı yatak odaları

    completely separate bedrooms

    aydın (bright)

    apaydın

    apaydın ana baba

    a perfectly enlightened parent

    canlı
    (living, lively)
    capcanlı
    Thanks JJG 3/00
    capcanlı partia very lively party

    dağınık
    (scattered)

    dapdağınık

    dapdağınık yatak

    an entirely messy bed

    dar
    (narrow)

    dapdar

    dapdar oda

    an extremely narrow room

    dolu
    (full)

    dopdolu

    dopdolu su deposu

    an absolutely full water tank

    hızlı
    (fast)

    hıphızlı hıphızlı sürat motoru an really fast speedboat

    ince
    (thin)

    ipince

    ipince dilim

    a razor-thin slice

    kara
    (black)

    kapkara

    kapkara gece

    a pitch black night

    karanlık
    (dark)

    kapkaranlık

    kapkaranlık gelecek

    a completely dark outlook

    kırmızı
    (red)

    kıpkırmızı kıpkırmızı yüz

    a bright red face

    kızıl
    (red)

    kıpkızıl kıpkızıl gül

    a crimson red rose

    kuru
    (dry)

    kupkuru

    kupkuru toprak

    parched dry earth

    sarı
    (yellow, pale)

    sapsarı

    sapsarı gecelik

    a stark pale nightgown

    taze
    (fresh)

    taptaze

    taptaze hüner

    an absolutely fresh talent

    uzun
    (long)

    upuzun

    upuzun burun

    an amply long nose

    yeni
    (new)

    yepyeni

    yepyeni gün

    a brand new day

    ıslak
    (wet)

    ıpıslak

    ıpıslak saç

    sopping wet hair

    Sentence sample...
    Sharon Stone ıpıslak tişörtte çok iyi görünüyor.
    Sharon Stone looks great in a sopping wet tee shirt.
    What?
    Nobody except us has fantasies?

    Oh sure. Right...

    Prefixes ending in 'r'

    temiz (clean)

    tertemiz

    tertemiz hal

    a spotlessly clean state of affairs

    çabuk (quick) çarçabuk çarçabuk yemek

    a very quick meal

    Sentence sample...
    Michael Schumacher tertemiz bir araba kullanıyor.
    Michael Schumacher drives a mighty clean car.
    Anybody?
    European Formula One racing?
    hellooo...

    Prefixes ending in 's'

    belli (obvious) besbelli besbelli yalan a very obvious lie
    bütün (entire) büsbütün Şirketimiz büsbütün faaliyete geçti. Our company is fully and completely operational.
    [Aha, here's another prefixed word that's used as an intensified adverb...]
    cavlak (bald) cascavlak cascavlak baş a wholly hairless head
    doğru (true) dosdoğru dosdoğru cevap an entirely correct answer
    katı (hard) kaskatı kaskatı engel a rock hard barrier
    koca (large)

    koskoca

    koskoca yılan

    an really big snake
    kocaman (huge)

    koskocaman

    (3k)

    koskocaman bina

    an enormous building
    mavi (blue)

    masmavi

    masmavi gökyüzü

    a completely blue sky
    pembe (pink) pespembe pespembe flamingo
    yes, it's the same word...
    a shocking pink flamingo
    mor (purple) mosmor mosmor patlıcan a deep purple eggplant/aubergine
    tamam (complete) tastamam tastamam fiyasko an absolutely perfect failure
    yuvarlak (round)

    yusyuvarlak

    yusyuvarlak göz a completely round eye
    Sentence sample...
    Genghis Khan kaskatı bir adamdı.
    Genghis Khan was a very stern fellow.
    And he was cruel to animal-rights activists, too...

    Examples of intensified adjectives with irregular prefixes are:

    acayıp (strange)

    acelacayıp
    Thanks JJG 3/00
    acelacayıp kız

    a very strange gal

    acele (hurry) alelacele
    Thanks JJG 3/00
    alelacele yazmış

    very hastily written
    [Yet another prefixed word that's used as an intensified adverb...]

    çıplak (naked) çırılçıplak çırılçıplak saldırganlık

    totally naked aggression

    çevre (surroundings)

    çepeçevre çepeçevre ateş

    an all encompassing fire

    gündüz (daytime)

    güpegündüz Güpegündüz hırsızlık yaptı.

    He did the robbery in broad daylight.

    karışık (mixed)

    karmakarışık

    karmakarışık durum

    a completely fouled up situation

    parça (piece)

    paramparça

    paramparça vazo

    a totally shattered vase

    perişan
    (very upset)

    permeperişan

    permeperişan bir hale

    an extremely upsetting situation

    renk (color)

    rengarenk rengarenk çiçekler

    multi-colored flowers

    sağlam (healthy) sapasağlam

    (3k)
    [Also see illustrative cartoon below...]
    sapasağlam yaşlı adam a perfectly healthy old timer
    yalnız (alone) yapayalnız yapayalnız hayat

    life all alone

    zengin (rich) zevzengin
    Note: Before we get a deluge of 'cards and letters' complaining that this is not an officially sanctioned Turkish word, let us simply point you to our source: Baha' (1926). In that original work by Veled Çelebi Izbuduk you will find this usage in a Nasreddin Hoca story on page 104 -- or click to see it here.
    zevzengin
    bir dil

    a very rich language

    A sign of the times...
    Uyarı: Plajda çırılçıplak dans etmek yasaktır --
    pazar günleri.

    Warning: No totally nude dancing on the beach --
    on Sundays.

    Monday thru Friday was fully booked so
    we got lumped together with
    a group from Milwaukee on Saturday.




    Perfectly healthy, for the moment...

    Passer-by to beggar: You're a perfectly healthy guy.
    If you'd try working instead of begging...
    oh nevermind [neyse]...it really doesn't matter...[boş ver]

    Thanks to:
    Karikatürler - 2
    by Selçuk Erdem
    Parentez Yayıları
    Istanbul (1999/2000)




    Do you think you can now construct your own intensified adjectives -- based on the examples above? Do you see any rules for the intensive prefixes ending in m, p, r, s?

    Well, we only see one incontrovertible one...

    The intensifying prefix will always begin with the same two letters as the adjective you want to intensify.
    Brilliant, what...? Nothing gets by us...!

    By the way, G.L Lewis
    (usually a friend of Turkish language strugglers everywhere)
    makes one other pretty obscure observation about these prefixes. He says...
    Adjective Prefixes ending in 'p' are 'usually' constructed
    with back vowels (a, ı, u, o) rather than
    front vowels (e, i, ö, ü).

    (That's a real winner, innit?
    Sooorry, G.L. We still love you...)

    G.L.'s 'rule' rightly predicts, for example,
    that you use the prefix 'tap' with the adjective 'taze' to make
    the intensified adjective 'taptaze' (extremely fresh).
    But then, the 'rule' doesn't hold for 'yep' in 'yepyeni' (brand new)...


    And that's about it, in the way of
    so-called rules for these prefixes.

    Looks like we're back to the need
    for rote memorization again...
    <sigh>

    Next: Turkish Adjective Heaven - Part 2


    Language-learning pages:
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    A Practical Philosophy for beginners

    (Found in the 'Introduction to The Whole Earth Catalog of Turkish Movies'.)
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  • Essential Turkish Vocabulary
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