Turkish sound inventories

Turkish Consonant Inventory

Turkish has the consonant phonemes shown in the chart below. Sounds are transcribed using the International Phonetic Alphabet.

Obstruents Stops p
Affricates       t͡ʃ
Fricatives   f
Sonorants Nasals m   n      
Liquids     r l      
Glide     j   h

A few things about this inventory should be noted. First, Clements and Sezer (see references) classify /h/ as a voiceless glide, not as a fricative. Second, the lateral liquid [l] has primary alveolar place, but it is velarized (has secondary velar place). Phonologically, we would classify [l] as a [+back] consonant. Third, in addition to the phonemes shown in the chart, Turkish also has palatalized sounds [tj], [c], and [ɟ] that should probably be viewed as having the status of marginal phonemes, meaning that there is only limited evidence suggesting that these sounds are contrastive. There is also a sound often transcribed as [lj] in the phonological literature which does not seem to be a true palatalized lateral, based on the speech of our Turkish consultant, but is a pure alveolar with no velar component. This sound also seems to be a marginal phoneme of Turkish. We discuss these sounds in the "loose ends" link on the palatalization page.

Turkish Vowel Inventory

Turkish has a symmetrical inventory of eight vowels, shown in (1). Symmetrical means that each of the four front vowels corresponds to a back vowel distinguished by the feature [+back]. Similarly, there are four round vowels, each with a corresponding nonround vowel with otherwise the same specifications for the features [back]. Finally, there are four high vowels matched with four nonhigh vowels.

Turkish has an inventory of eight vowel phonemes:
  [-back] [+back]
[+high] i y ɨ u
[-high] e ø o
[+low] a
-- LAB/[+rd] -- LAB/[+rd]

To hear an example of each vowel in context, click on the words below. Each example is a noun in its nominative singular form. (The nominative is the case a noun takes when it functions as the subject in a sentence.)

[i] ip "rope"
[e] el "hand"
[y] jyz "face"
[ø] cøj "village"
[ɨ] kɨz "girl"
[a] sap "stalk"
[u] pul "stamp"
[o] son "end"