Some help on Turkish grammar when translating Turkish news into English

Saturday, August 23, 2008

My old blog from last year. I stuck with it for a total of three posts.

I had forgotten that in December I had started a blog to teach Turkish (or more accurately, to practice Turkish while teaching what I know) that I only wrote three posts for over a single week. Luckily a spambot came by and tried to post a series of links on the blog which reminded me about the three posts I had created there. Each one is an explanation of a single sentence, and since it might be helpful to anyone learning Turkish and I won't be writing there anymore I'm porting them over here. Here are all three.

First post:

You have a new message.

Turkish: Yeni mesajınız var.

You’ll see this on Wikipedia when somebody has sent you a new message.

yeni - new

mesaj - message

mesajınız - your message (polite, informal would be mesajın)

var - there is.

What would plural be?

Yeni mesajlarınız var / Yeni mesajların var. Remember to put the plural on before any personal endings (you, he, I, etc.).

Second post:

Cigarette probihition expands

This is the title of an article on BBC here:

In Turkish it looks like this:

Sigara yasağı genişletiliyor

Okay, so how does this work? First some vocabulary:

sigara - cigarette. This is the easiest word.

yasak - prohibition. But when combining two words together (like in the English ‘pizza house’, ‘member of parliament’ and so on) you need to end it with an -i/ı/u/ü if it ends with a consonant or si/sı/su/sü if it ends with a vowel (the reason for those four is basic vowel harmony; I’ll write more on that later in another post). But when it ends with a k the k is also turned into ğ, the so-called yumuşak g (ge) or soft g. That’s why ‘cigarette prohibition’ is sigara yasağı and not sigara yasakı.

geniştiriliyor - it is being expanded/widened. This is formed of the following:

geniş - wide. Then:

geniştirmek - to widen. Then:

geniştirilmek - to be widened. The -il makes the verb passive here. Then remove the -mek and conjugate it like any other verb, so put -iyor on the end since it’s 3rd person (it is being expanded), and we have geniştiriliyor.

Third post:

NASA and Atlantis

Today’s Turkish is the headline from a news article here about NASA and the space shuttle Atlantis:

NASA, Atlantis uzay mekiğindeki arızayı gidermeye çalışıyor

This means “NASA works to get rid of defects in the Atlantis space shuttle”.

Here’s how it works:

uzay - space

mekik - shuttle. Like the English word, this can mean a shuttle used in weaving as well as the space shuttle. Since it’s a compound word the k becomes a ğ and an i is put on the end, making uzay mekiği the word for space shuttle. After that we add on a -de to mean ‘in’, and there’s an n in between there to make it easier to pronounce, giving uzay mekiğinde, meaning ‘in the space shuttle’. Lastly we add on a -ki to connect it to the next word, similar to ‘that’ in the English ‘the man that drinks the coffee’. Here we add on the next word:

arıza - defect. The at the end is because it’s the object of the sentence. All this together so far makes: uzay mekiğindeki arızayı, or “(to) the defect in the space shuttle”.

So what is NASA doing to this arıza inside the uzay mekiği? Here’s what it’s doing:

gidermek - to get rid of. After that is the second verb:

çalışmak - to work.

Back to the first verb: take off the k from gidermek, which gives giderme, which is the gerund, so ‘getting rid of’. Add on -ye which gives the meaning of ‘towards’ (since NASA is working towards the goal of getting rid of the error), and we have gidermeye (towards getting rid of). What is NASA doing towards getting rid of the defect? It’s working towards it. That means we put an ıyor on the end of çalış-, which is the 3rd person conjugation. All together we have gidermeye çalışıyor, which means “he/she/it is working towards getting rid of (something).”

All done! Remember that whenever you work towards or try to do something with çalışma, you use e/a or ye/ya (depending on vowel harmony).


Unknown said...

Yeni mesajınız var.
New message-your there-is.

I do not speak Turkish, but I think that maybe a better literal translation would be
"New message-your exists."
. :)

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