How To Describe Clothing In Turkish

This week I decided to learn about clothing terms in Turkish, and in doing so, to discover more about the Turkish language, grammar, etc.

In order to get started, I needed to know what to search for. I checked Google Translate for "clothes" and it said "giysi", but searching Google for giysi turned up pages of toys, so that's not right. Obviously there some subtlety here that I'll want to understand later. But for now, I'm not going to worry about it.

When I checked Google Translate for "men's clothes," it said "erkek giysileri". A Google search for erkek giysileri turned up mixed results, but among the results were several including the term "erkek giyim". Bingo. Googling erkek giyim turns up endless results for men's clothes.

This process is quite valuable, because I'm learning the root "giy-" and noticing how various endings differ in meaning, even if I don't know exactly what they mean. And I've learned the words erkek giyim - men's clothes.

Clicking through sites in the results provides endless opportunities to learn terms related to men's clothes. Not only things like shirts, jackets, and shoes, but also sizes, brands, famous, popular, etc. This is exactly why learning through use is so important. I'm not isolating my learning to only a list of vocabulary.

Several clothing words are phonetic matches for words I already know in other languages, such as ceket (jacket), palto (coat), pantolon (pants), and kravat (tie). Other phonetic matches are obvious as well, including popüler (popular), parfüm (perfume), İtalyan dizayn (Italian design), and moda (style). I'm also finding a few loanwords show up a lot, such as "fashion" and "exclusive".

Frankly, at this early stage, these are the most important words — the ones I already know — because the knowledge that I already know several Turkish words give me a huge confidence boost while I'm working on learning words I don't know. It also gives me a reference point for figuring things out when I see them in context.

One interesting item I find as I learn about men's clothing is takım elbise - "suit". When I see two words to describe one thing, I see an opportunity to learn! Google Translate says elbise is "dress" and takım is "group". When you Google "takım", you find group photos of sports teams. So takım elbise - suit - refers to clothing items working as a team! That's a really interesting way to think of a suit!


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Author: Yearlyglot
I'll lead you through a 12 month journey from knowing absolutely nothing about a language to having professional fluency.

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  • Your last paragraph sums up nicely why I'm enjoying learning Turkish. The deeper I get into the language, the more utilitarian it seems, for lack of a better word to describe it. And I see this with more than just vocabulary. I see it in the entire way the language is put together.

  • Indeed. I find details like that fascinating.

  • Hi Randy,I was just wondering if you rely on Google Translate pronunciation tool when learning how to pronounce new words or by now you can figure out how to pronounce them without outside help?

  • As with Russian (actually, more so!), Turkish letters always make the same sound, so it is possible to get the pronunciation "mostly" correct just from reading. The stress falls usually, but not always, on the last syllable, so I start with that assumption and then work away from it.Google Translate's pronunciation is a bit more helpful than the over-simplified assumptions I'm working from, but it's still not perfect. So when it's important to get the pronunciation of a particular word right, I go to Sesli-Sözlük (audio dictionary) or to Forvo in search of a recording of a native.But for now, in these early discovery stages, I'm working mostly from the basic assumption I stated at the top, while I build out my vocabulary. I usually only go searching for more accurate pronunciation on conversational words that I might be likely to use right away.

  • So Turkish is a phonetical language then, I was always under the opposite impression for some reason!

  • Oh my God, I am so excited to find out whether you are really going to succed in this mission of yours!
    Hey, Randy, one doubt about the rules for this mission. Are you doing any conscious effort for remembering the words you are learning. If you are, what are you doing to memorise them? If you are not, are getting to learn a great deal of words without ever worrying about it?

  • Memorizing is a waste of time. If you use a word regularly there is no risk of forgetting it.

  • You're like the Sir Edmund Hillary of language learning. As the North Face motto goes, Never Stop Exploring!

  • Hah! :)
    Thanks.

  • It's always surprising to see just how much English has infiltrated nearly every other language on earth, and it's nice, too (when you're a native English speaker trying to learn another language, that is :D ).Cheers,
    Andrew

  • Hey, I`ve noticed your blog while I was surfing randomly on the web. I would like to make a small contribution to your discovering clothing in Turkish..Erkek giyim literally means men`s wear and is commonly used to describe the section/collection of men`s wear in stores. Erkek giysisi/giysileri (pl.) is more commonly used in daily conversation, the closest translation of which is "men`s outfit". Hope this helps. I will be following this blog since I feel proud as a native Turkish speaker that you decided to learn Turkish.Good luck,Mehtap

  • Thanks a lot for that explanation, and thanks for your interest in my journey to learn Turkish! It's always great to have a native speaker around who can correct me when I get something wrong. (And I will surely do that!)

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