Thursday 19 November 2009

Learning Turkish

Merhaba. I have recently started learning Turkish. Dundee University offered a beginner’s class as part of their evening programme. Unfortunately not enough people signed up. However the tutor contacted those of us who were interested and we have now formed our own small class. There are only four of us, so it is quite intensive. The tutor is Turkish, but has lived in Dundee for years and now speaks English with a definite Dundonian accent.

Why learn Turkish? No particular reason as such. I have always been interested in other languages, but to date have only attempted to learn the main west European languages. We did French at school and since then I have tried to learn Spanish, Italian and German. Spanish is OK as we lived there for a few years and I try to keep up with the language by reading online articles about FC Barcelona and the odd book in Spanish. The others I can just about get by in. Speaking is the most difficult as there are virtually no chances to speak another language in Dundee. So I try to keep up by reading the odd online piece. German is the most difficult - so many cases and endings. With the help of a dictionary I can get by with reading and have just finished a rather good krimi novel - Alpenrauschen - set in Switzerland, by the Swiss writer Sabina Altermatt. Carrying on a conversation is just so difficult. Luckily I don’t need to try much when in Switzerland. Thank goodness for the spread of English!

Back to Turkish. I fancied trying to learn Turkish for a mixture of three reasons. The first is that it is a completely different language from the main European languages. It does share some characteristics with Hungarian and Finnish which are also outwith the main European language blocs. So I like the idea of trying something new which might help keep the old grey cells ticking over. The second reason is that Turkish is the language of one of our oldest and most interesting civilizations. And one that I know very little about. From history lessons at school I know about the advance of the Turkish peoples into what was then known as the Byzantian Empire. Later on under the Ottomans the Turks conquered about half of Europe and created one of the most powerful Empires in the world. Turkey is also a Muslim country and I have never visited a Muslim country and am pretty unfamiliar with modern Islam. The final reason for deciding to learn Turkish is that we hope to visit the country for a holiday next year. While I am sure most Turks, at least in the tourist areas of the country, will speak English, it will be good if I can say a few words in Turkish.

So far I have only been learning for a couple of weeks or so and already it is proving to be quite a challenge. Turkish really is different. Here for example are the numbers 1 - 5: bir; iki, üc, dört, beş. Nothing like anything I know! Still progress is being made, if slowly. I can now introduce myself, ask how are you and most important of all, I can order a glass or even a bottle of wine. Will probably need a few if I am to keep up with this challenge as this will certainly be a test of my determination as well as my linguistic skills.


  1. Good for you! I have decided to try to learn Italian better.

  2. I'm learning Spanish, this is how I chanced upon your blog. I found sharedtalk website indispensable for practicing and as an English speaker you'll have no problem finding conversation partner.