The Agglutination Problem

Turkish is an agglutinating language in which words are mostly formed by joining morphemes together. Each of the morphemes has one meaning or function and is added to a noun or verb to denote case, number, gender, person, tense, etc. It is possible to produce hundreds of different forms for a given root word.

There is a question known as the one of the longest sentences in Turkish:

„Çekoslavakyalılaştıramadıklarımızdan mısınız?” (It is not valid anymore, though.)

Eng: “Are you one of those that we could not have possibly turned into a Czechoslovakian?”

This kind of a combination of root and stems can be quite difficult for a Turkish language learner to understand and to use correctly, especially for native speakers of many of the European languages which are mostly inflecting. For instance, a friend of mine once asked her British friend (who speaks Turkish at an advanced level) whether I should also help her to carry the fridge and she answered: “Kendine gel!” (“Behave yourself!“) though she wanted to say “Kendin gel!” (“Come yourself!”). As you see, the difference between these imperative sentences just lies in the suffix “-e”. This means that it may take some time for Turkish learners to recognize its subtleties.

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