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The Turkish Alphabet

The Turkish alphabet was originally written in runic form. The Ottoman Empire would eventually replace the runic alphabet with the Arabic alphabet. In 1928, a modified version of the Latin alphabet, featuring eight vowels and 21 consonants, in both uppercase and lowercase forms, was adopted, as follows:

A, B, C, Ç, D, E, F, G, Ğ, H, I, İ, J, K, L, M, N, O, Ö, P, R, S, Ş, T, U, Ü, V, Y, Z

The vowel "i" is used both without and with a dot above. Turkish is a phonetic language and the addition of vowels and consonants were required to enable correct pronunciation. The Language Commission was responsible for conception of the new Latin alphabet and, in some cases, borrowed letters from the Swedish, Albanian, Romanian and German alphabets.

The reform of the alphabet instituted soon after the Republic of Turkey came into existence was followed by law enforcing use of Turkish letters only for official documents.

The consonants Q, W and X do not exist in the Turkish alphabet. In situations where these letters are required, such as in Kurdish names, they must be transliterated into "K", "V" and "KS".

For reasons of vowel harmony practiced by the Turkish language, the eight vowels are divided into two groups: The Undotted-A Vowel Group (A, I, O and U) and the Dotted-E Vowel Group (E, İ, Ö and Ü). Vowel harmony occurs when either front vowels or back vowels are found in a word, never a mixture of both.

Diphthongs, when two or more vowels are clustered and pronunciation is a rapid slide, do not exist in native Turkish words. Each vowel is distinctly pronounced in loanword diphthongs.

"C" is enunciated as "jay", while "Ç" is pronounced "ch". "G" is always said as a "hard g" and "Ğ" is silent. A word never begins with a "Ğ". Its function is to elongate the preceding vowel. "H" is always articulated with an aspiration. "R's" are always strongly rolled. An "S" is never spoken as a "z" and "Ş" is vocalized as "sh".

The Turkish language makes liberal use of suffixes to create new words, such as verbs from nouns and nouns from verbal roots. Many affixes can be attached to one word, which can lead to words with in excess of twenty letters. Prefixes are only used as adjectives or adverbs.

Stress is typically placed on the final syllable, except in cases of loanwords and proper names. Loanwords are usually stressed on the next-to-last syllable but, stresses for proper names, do not specifically follow these rules.

Turkish has no definite article. The accusative case marker, one of six in Turkish, denotes the definiteness of an object. The remaining noun cases are nominative, genitive, dative, ablative and locative.

Nouns may be joined by either a definite compound or indefinite compound. Inflection does not occur in adjectives, however, nouns are declined. As many adjectives function as nouns, they can be ultimately declined. Verbs show present, past, inferential, future and aorist tense, conditional, imperative, necessitative and optative mood and aspect.