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The Turkish alphabet is a Latin-based alphabet used for writing the Turkish language, consisting of 29 letters, a certain number of which (Ç, Ğ, I, İ, Ö, Ş, and Ü) have been adapted or modified for the phonetic requirements of the language.

These letters are:

Capital letters
Lower case letters
a b c ç d e f g ğ h ı i j k l m n o ö p r s ş t u ü v y z

Of these 29 letters, 8 are vowels (A, E, I, İ, O, Ö, U, Ü); the 21 others are consonants.

The letters Q, W, and X of the Modern basic Latin alphabet do not occur in the Turkish alphabet.



The names of the vowel letters are the vowels themselves, while the names of the consonant letters are the consonant plus e. The one exception is ğ ("yumuşak ge"; i.e. "soft g"):

a, be, ce, çe, de, e, fe, ge, yumuşak ge, he, ı, i, je, ke, le, me, ne, o, ö, pe, re, se, şe, te, u, ü, ve, ye, ze


This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Turkish orthography is highly phonemic and a word's pronunciation is always completely identified by its spelling. The following table presents the Turkish letters, the sounds they correspond to in International Phonetic Alphabet and how these can be approximated more or less by an English speaker.

Letter IPA English
Letter IPA English
A a /a/ As a in father M m /m/ As m in man
B b /b/ As b in bat N n /n/ As n in nay
C c /dʒ/ As j in John O o /o/ As o in more
Ç ç /tʃ/ As c in cello Ö ö /œ/ As u in burn, French deux
D d /d/ As d in dog P p /p/ As p in spin
E e /e/, /æ/ As e in red, as a in cat R r /ɾ/ As the r in car; r in Spanish pero
F f /f/ As f in far S s /s/ As s in sand
G g /g/, /ɟ/ As g in gap Ş ş /ʃ/ As s in sugar
Ğ ğ /ɣ/1 No English equivalent1 T t /t/ As t in stop
H h /h/ As h in hot U u /u/ As u in rude
I ı /ɯ/ Roughly as e in open Ü ü /y/ As u in cube, ü in German über
İ i /i/ As i in machine V v /v/ As v in valve
J j /ʒ/ As j in measure Y y /j/ As y in you
K k /k/, /c/ As k in skate Z z /z/ As z in zip
L l /l/, /ɫ/ As l in let, as l in wool
  1. The occurrence of [ɣ] is dialectal; for speakers who do not pronounce it as a voiced velar fricative, it may instead appear as the lengthening of the preceding vowel.


Early history

The earliest known Turkish alphabet is the Orkhon script. In general, Turkic languages have been written in a number of different alphabets including Cyrillic, Arabic, Greek, Latin and some other Asiatic writing systems.

Turkish was written using the Arabic script during the Ottoman era. However, Latin was applied to the Turkish language for educational purposes even before the 20th century reform. Instances include a 1635 Latin-Albanian dictionary by Frang Bardhi, who also incorporated several sayings in the Turkish language, as an appendix to his work (e.g., ‘Alma agatsdan irak duschamas’ – An apple does not fall far from its tree.)

Modern Turkish alphabet

Atatürk introducing the new Turkish alphabet to the people of Kayseri. September 20, 1928

The current 29-letter Turkish alphabet was established by the Law on the Adoption and Implementation of the Turkish Alphabet, numbered 1353,[1] in Turkey on November 1, 1928, as a vital step in the cultural part of Atatürk's Reforms.[2] Replacing the earlier Ottoman Turkish script, the script was created as an extended version of the Latin alphabet at the initiative of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who announced the alphabet change in July 1928.[3]

The alphabet reform, combined later with the foundation of Turkish Language Association in 1932, campaigns by the Ministry of Education including the opening of Public Education Centers throughout the country, and the active encouragement of people by Atatürk with many trips to the countryside often involving him teaching the new alphabet, succeeded in achieving a substantial increase in the literacy rate of the population from a figure around 20% to over 90%.[4] The reforms were also backed up by the Law on Copyrights, issued in 1934, encouraging and strengthening the private publishing sector.[5] In 1939, The First Turkish Publications Congress was organized in Ankara, for discussing the issues like copyright, printing, the progress on improving the literacy rate and scientific publications, with the attendance of 186 deputies.

Participants of the conference on the Turkish alphabet, including Atatürk. August 29, 1929

The work of preparing the new alphabet based on the Latin letters and incorporating necessary modifications to account for sounds specific to Turkish language, was undertaken by the Language Commission (Dil Encümeni) consisting of the following members:

Ragıp Hulûsi Özdem,
Ahmet Cevat Emre,
İbrahim Grandi Grantay,
Mehmet Emin Erişirgil,
İhsan Sungu,
Fazıl Ahmet Aykaç,
Writers and members of parliament
Falih Rıfkı Atay,
Ruşen Eşref Ünaydın,
Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoğlu.

Distinctive features

Dotted and dotless I are separate letters, each with its own uppercase and lowercase form. I is the capital form of ı, and İ is the capital form of i. (In the original law establishing the alphabet, the dotted İ came before the undotted I; now their places are reversed [Yazım Kılavuzu].) The letter J, however, uses a tittle in the same way English does, with a dotted lowercase version, and a dotless uppercase version.

Optional circumflex accents can be used with "â", "î" and "û" to disambiguate words with different meanings but otherwise the same spelling, or to indicate palatalization of a preceding consonant (for example, while "kar" /kar/ means "snow", "kâr" /car/ means "profit"), or long vowels in loanwords, particularly from Arabic. These are seen as variants of "a", "i", and "u" and are becoming quite rare in modern usage.

Status of Q, W, X

The Turkish alphabet has no Q, W or X. Instead, these are transliterated into Turkish as K, V, and KS, respectively. The 1928 Law 1353 enforced usage of only the Turkish letters on official documents like birth certificates, marriage documents, and land registers;[1] the 1982 Constitution explicitly retains this law.[6] In practice, the requirement of using the Turkish alphabet in state registers has made it impossible to register some Kurdish names exactly as they are rendered in Kurdish orthography, which includes q, w, and x. The families can give their children Kurdish names, but these names cannot include these letters and are required to use the aforementioned transliterations. Many Kurds have applied to the courts seeking to change their names to specifically include the letters q, w, and x.[7] A similar situation exists in Europe where many people with Turkish names reside.[8] Many Turkish names include ğ, ü, ş, ı, ö, ç, and İ, some of which are unavailable in local official alphabets.

In popular culture

  • In Thomas Pynchon's novel Gravity's Rainbow, there are several fictional scenes relating to the various committees supposedly assigned in the Soviet Union to create the New Turkish Alphabet for use in Central Asia, one for a different letter, each one advocating their letter at the expense of other alternative transliterations of the sound in question.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Tūrk Harflerinin Kabul ve Tatbiki Hakkında Kanun" (in Turkish). 
  2. ^ Yazım Kılavuzu, Dil Derneği, 2002 (the writing guide of the Turkish language)
  3. ^ Nationalist Notes, TIME Magazine, July 23, 1928
  4. ^ Harf İnkılâbı Text of the speech by Prof. Dr. Zeynep Korkmaz on the website of Turkish Language Association, for the 70th anniversary of the Alphabet Reform, delivered at the Dolmabahçe Palace, on September 26, 1998
  5. ^ Press and Publications in Turkey, article on Newspot, June 2006, published by the Office of the Prime Minister, Directorate General of Press and Information.
  6. ^ "THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF TURKEY (English translation)". Turkish Directorate General of Press and Information. Retrieved 2006-11-07. 
  7. ^ Karakaş, Saniye; Diyarbakır Branch of the Contemporary Lawyers Association (March 2004). "Submission to the Sub-Commission on Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: Working Group of Minorities; Tenth Session, Agenda Item 3 (a)" (MS Word). United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Retrieved 2006-11-07. "Kurds have been officially allowed since September 2003 to take Kurdish names, but cannot use the letters "x, w or q", which are common in Kurdish but do not exist in Turkey's version of the Latin alphabet. [...] Those letters, however, are used in Turkey in the names of companies, TV and radio channels, and trademarks. For example Turkish Army has company under the name of AXA OYAK and there is SHOW TV television channel in Turkey." 
  8. ^ "Dutch NGO Puts Turkish Alphabet on the Agenda". 

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Wikipedia has an article on:


Turkish Wikipedia has an article on:
Türk alfabesi

Wikipedia tr


Atatürk introducing the new Turkish alphabet to the people

Proper noun

Turkish alphabet


Turkish alphabet

  1. The 29-letter (21 consonants and 8 vowels) alphabet of the Turkish language, adapted from the basic Latin alphabet and consisting of the following letters presented in upper case (majuscule) and lower case (minuscule) pairs:
А а, B b, C c, Ç ç, D d, E e, F f, G g, Ğ ğ, H h, I ı, İ i, J j, K k, L l, M m, N n, O o, Ö ö, P p, R r, S s, Ş ş, T t, U u, Ü ü, V v, Y y, Z z


Simple English

The Turkish alphabet is used for writing, speaking and reading in Turkish. This alphabet is modified from the Latin alphabet. There are 29 letters in the Turkish alphabet of Turkey. The English letters, "Q", "W" and "X" are not in Turkish alphabet. Seven Turkish letters (Ç, Ğ, I, İ, Ö, Ş, and Ü) are in the Turkish alphabet.

Capital letters
Lower case letters

There are 8 vowels in Turkish alphabet : A,E,I,İ,O,Ö,U,Ü

There are 21 consonants in Turkish alphabet : B, C, Ç, D, F, G, Ğ, H, J, K, L ,M , N, P, R, S, Ş, T, V, Y, Z.

Letter IPA English
Letter IPA English
Aa/a/As a in fatherMm/m/As m in man
Bb/b/As b in batNn/n/As n in nay
Cc/dʒ/As j in jobOo/o/As o in no
Çç/tʃ/As ch in chatÖö/œ/As e in her
Dd/d/As d in dogPp/p/As p in put
Ee/e/As e in redRr/ɾ/As the r in ladder
Ff/f/As f in farSs/s/As s in sand
Gg/g/ or /ɟ/ As g in gapŞş/ʃ/As sh in she
Ğğ/ɣ/No English equivalentTt/t/As t in top
Hh/h/As h in hotUu/u/As oo in pool
Iı/ɯ/As e in openÜü/y/No English equivalent
İi/i/As ee in feetVv/v/As v in valve
Jj/ʒ/As g in montageYy/j/As y in you
Kk/k/ or /c/ As c in catZz/z/As z in zip
Ll/ɫ/ or /l/As l in let

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