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Vowel Harmony

Vowel Harmony

 

Wowel harmony in Turkish can be defined as the tendecy for vowels in a word to be similar to the first vowel in that word.

 

A wovel may be classified according to the shape and position of the organs of speech when making that particular sound. Turkish vowels are classified as follows:

 

 

      Unrounded                          

          rounded

   low

     a

      ı

       o

       u

   high

     e

      i

       ö

       ü

      

Front vowels are pronounced with the middle of the tongue raised towards the highest part of the palate.

 

Back vowels are pronounced with the back of the tongue raised towards the soft back part of the palate.

 

Rounded vowels are produced with rounded, protruded lips.

 

Unrounded vowels are produced with spread lips touching the front teeth.

 

High vowels are produced with the tongue closer to the palate, and the opening of the mouth is narrower than for low vowels

 

Low vowels are produced with the tongue in a lower position and the chin dropped lower than for high vowels.

 

 

Vowel harmony results from the natural tendency towards minimising the effort required to pronounce a word. Since to change from, say, an “a” sound to an “ı” sound requires less movement  from the organs of speech than to change from “a” to “ü”, it is common for “a” to be followed by “ı” but rare for “a” to be followed by “ü”

 

If the first vowel in a word is high the following vowels will also be high. If it is low the rest of the vowels in the same word will also be low. That is, all the vowels in a word agree. Some borrowed words break this rule.

 

Suffixes are also based on vowel harmony rule. Usually  the last vowel in the word determines the vowel in the suffix. That is, if the last vowel in a word is high the vowel in the suffix will also be high. If the last vowel in a word is low the vowel in the suffix will also be low.

 

High vowels ( e – i – ö –ü ) harmony: if the first vowel in a word is one of these high vowels the following vowels will also be one of these high vowels as in examples below:

 

                E                                                                   İ
evet                   -   yes                                                                      isim                  -  name

gece                 -   night                                                                    serin                 -  serin

kedi                   -   cat                                                                       ince                  -  thin

pencere            -   window                                                              merdiven         -  ladder

ekmek              -   bread                                                                  bilgi                   -  information                                 

defter                -   notebook                                                            iki                     -  two

 

            Ö                                                                   Ü
kötü             -  bad                                                                           ütü                 -  iron

köpek          -  dog                                                                          çünkü            -  because

köprü           -  bridge                                                                      küçük           -  small

gözlük         -  eye-glasses                                                            ülke               -  country

öğrenci        -  student                                                                    ümit              -  hope

 

 

Low vowels ( a – ı – o – u ) harmony

if the first vowel in a word is one of these low vowels the following vowels will also be one of these low vowels as in examples below:

 

            A                                                                     I
masa         -  table                                                                           kırmızı            -  red  

kadın        -  woman                                                                        kısa               -  short

hava         -  weather                                                                      ıslak               -  wet

kapı          -  door                                                                             kalın              -  thick

banyo       -  bathroom / bath                                                        hafıza            -  memory

 

 

            O                                                                                  U
çorba           -  soup                                                                            uzak         -  far      

okul              -  school                                                                         dokuz       -  nine

çocuk           -  child                                                                            uçak         -  plane

oda              -  room                                                                           duvar        -  wall

oyuncak      -  toy                                                                               armut       -  pear

 


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