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Turkish Language

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TURKISH LANGUAGE. It belongs to the linguistic group known as the Ural-Altaic or Of the idioms forming part of this group the Turkish holds premier place because of the great size of territory in which it dominates and because of its conformity of type. In structural points it excels within its own domain. Properly speaking, all those dia lects spoken as far east and north as the Lena River in Siberia, and all of which are nearly related, may be classed as Turkish. But general usage confines the term to the language of the Ottomans, or Turks proper, with its centre in Anatolia, Asia Minor. The two characteristic peculiarities of the Ural-Altaic family, viz., agglutination and vowel harmony, are found in great strength in the Turkish. The first of these, agglutination, makes possible the auto matic formation of conjugations, the root of the verb in all these cases remaining unaltered at the head of the word. Thus, for instance, sev-mek, to love, becomes sev-ish-mek, to love each other; sev-ish-dir-mek, causing to love each other; sev-ish-dir-il-me)e, causing to have loved each other; sev-ish-dir-il-me-mek, not causing to have loved each other, etc. As to the purity of vowel harmony, invariably no 'soft vowel may be employed in a word the stem of which does not contain it; thus, pederiniz, your father, but dostunouz, your friend. Suffixes are usually inserted, as yazdtm, I wrote, yazmadim, I did not write. The grammatical forms are abundant, logical and efficient. To give an idea of the ampli tude and flexibility of these grammatical forms, it may be mentioned that the mutations of which each Turkish verb' is capable have been com puted to run up to a score of thousands. Yet withal the rules are so simple and clear that the memorizing of 44 syllables or particles en ables the student to construct himself and understand the whole series. Another unique feature is that the Turkish grammar has but one conjugation and no irregular verbs save the few auxiliaries. There is no gender for noun; pronoun or adjective, and the latter is not subject to any change except for compari son. The Turkish syntax is also peculiar, the unit of expression being the paragraph, and there being no punctuation. As a rule the sub ject of the dominating verb is put at the be ginning, or near the beginning, of the paragraph, and all subordinate clauses have their verb in the participial form, and the meaning of the whole phrase being not apparent during the building-up process until the chief verb, some where near the end, makes the sense clear.

But while thus the grammatical structure of Turkish is purely and consistently Ural Altaic, the stock of words in it, notably that used for literary purposes, has been greatly added to from Persian and Arabic, as well as European tongues, while the original number of Turkish words has correspondingly shrunk. Its alphabet Turkish has borrowed from the Arabic, with five new consonants added to the original 28 Arabic. The adoption of the Arabic alphabet, which was done for purely religious reasons, was a grave mistake from the linguistic point of view, as phonetically the Turkish and the Arabian differ very materially from each other, and some of the Turkish sounds cannot be properly reproduced in Arabic at all. One of the five additions is, besides, purely Persian, and another purely Turkish. Like the Arabs and Persians the Turks read from right to left. There is, however, a variety of script signs in use, such as those only employed for fermans (or official decrees), for poetry, for letter writing, etc. The most interesting forms of Turkish writing are those used on the in scriptions found in Siberia, near the Yenisei River; these contain historical records, a few of them dating back to the 4th and 5th centuries AM. Those inscriptions met with north of Lake Baikal, in Mongolia, are also of great archaeo logical importance, recounting as they do the deeds of Bilga Kagan, and those of Kara Bal gassun, dating from about 800 A.D., are also worthy of note. In all these ancient records the alphabets used are of Aramaic derivation, some simple and rune-like in shape, others, of more recent date, more complicated.

Courteille, Pavet de, ( Jaga taische Sprachstudien' (Leipzig 1867) ; Denner, 0., (Sur l'origine de l'alphabet turc' (Helsing fors 1897) ; Marquardt, T. F., der alttiirk Inschriften' (Leipzig 1898) ; August, (Turk Grammatik' (Berlin 1889); Redhouse, M. M., of the Ottoman Turkish Language) (Constantinople 1884); Remusat, Abel, < Recherches sur les langues tatares) (Paris 1820) ; Radlov, W. (Uguri) (Saint Petersburg 1900) ; (Proben der Volks lit. d. fork. Stamme Sfidsibiriens' (ib. 1872) ; (Yalcutische Sprache' (Leipzig 1908) ; Inschrif ten der Mongolen' (Saint Peters burg 1897) ; Thomsen, V., 'Inscriptions de l'Orkhon dechiffrees) (Helsingfors 1896); Vam bery, Ed., Sprachmon.' (Inns bruck 1870) ; Wahrmund, A., d. turk. Sprache' (Giessen 1884) ; Wells, Chas., and Dictionary of Turkish) (Lon don 1880) ; Youssouf, complete de la langue ottomane) (Constantinople 1892).