How To Learn Turkish Using An iPod

This year started with me settling into a new apartment, frantically working to finish my Italian eBook, and then leaving the country! I'm away from home, away from my computer and all the things that I use to learn, but that's not stopping me. I'm already learning some interesting things about Turkish, thanks to my iPod!

The first thing I did to start the new mission this year was switch the interface language on my iPod to Turkish. And that has allowed me to make several interesting discoveries.

The first thing I see when I press the button is Apple's signature "slide to unlock" screen, only now it says "Kilidi aç". When I type that into Google Translate, I can press the "Listen" button to make sure I'm pronouncing it correctly. But I can also learn something interesting.

The translation is "unlock", but there are two words there! I'm already learning something interesting about this new language. If I split those two words onto separate lines, the translation changes to "lock open." Aha!

Surely there's some kind of grammatical verb tense here to indicate the imperative, and I do not yet have any idea what that is. But I do now know that kilidi refers to locks, locking, or a lock, and refers to opening. And this will help me as I go forward in this language.

I've also found a decent offline English-Turkish dictionary for the iPod. An offline dictionary is an absolutely essential tool because you're not always going to have the internet in front of you — especially at those moments when you're actually trying to use the language!

When I installed the app (Sözlük, which apparently means dictionary) I was greeted with Apple's usual "Enter your iTunes password" dialog box, only now it's in Turkish, and the buttons say Vazgeç and Tamam, which I know by their positions to be "Cancel" and "OK". I've installed a few apps recently, so I've seen these words a few times now and I'm starting to remember them.

Another word I'm seeing a lot is Kapat, which is the single button shown on dialogs which don't require input. Obviously, then, this word means "close". Of course I can confirm that with a quick journey to Google Translate or by checking it in the Sözlük app.

This is just a handful of the things I've learned already just by switching my iPod interface! I'm also discovering some interesting grammatical features, which I will write about soon. I can see already that this year's experiment isn't going to be very difficult at all.

Maybe you don't have an iPod. Maybe you have an Android device, or some other piece of technology that allows you to switch your interface language. Do it! You'll instantly start being exposed to new vocabulary, and learning by using the language instead of by studying it.

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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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  • "kilidi aç" literally means "open the lock". Turkish verbs in their bare forms are imperative.Another interesting Turkish feature in this mini sentence is something known as "Last consonant alteration". Words that end with certain consonants are altered if a suffix that starts with vowel is appended to it. In this case ("kilit" = "lock") becomes "kilid" when the accusative suffix "i" is appended to it.The consonants which are affected by this rule and their changed forms are: p-b, ç-c, k-ğ, t-d, g-ğ. (namely, voiceless stop consonants) This rule is important as there are a lot of words that ends with these letters and some important suffixes starts with a vowel.However there is a gotcha; this rule is not applied if word has one syllable (at, ok, et, it etc).

  • This is an interesting way to learn a few words quickly, will try it for German myself.A few other notes;Unfortunately Google translate's listen function does not work correctly for word "aç", so do not trust it always.And, you are right, unlock translates into 2 words. There are no prefixes in Turkish. And no direct translation for "un" prefix.

  • I've learned most of my vocabulary from the iPod touch I have. You have the dictionaries (I downloaded Enga for Russian but quite a few things I type in I have to go onto a seperate dictionary and add to Enga), as you mentioned, but also podcasts (Only in the target language of course), and when you can log into free wi-fi, there's the whole internet you can use to help you, like google translate. Now, there's also facetime, which will come in handy, I'm sure.

  • You've just convinced me to change the language on my iPad, I read a new word 设置 as it was setting up. I looked it up, and it means install. Such a simple thing, but very useful.

  • Thanks for such an interesting and helpful comment, which I must now try to forget so I can get back to the task of discovering this on my own, without instruction! :)

  • Yeah, I don't expect Google Translate to be 100% either for translation or for pronunciation. But it's a handy tool when used with that in mind.

  • Rather than adding things to Enga, try figuring out what you're doing wrong grammatically when you don't find results.

  • Ah, I know what you mean. I assumed it just searched for the whole word, like my Spanish one. On that one, you'll put something like "vemos" into it and the result will be "vemos -> ver". Then you click on it and it will say "ver: to see". I just need to look up on my Russian grammar.

  • My ultra-old Nokia supports Turkish, but not Chinese è_é
    I'd like to have an I-something only because it seems so useful for learning languages, but I have no money. Maybe it's time to consider a second-hand item, but if I can buy techno I can buy also books or courses... no no no XD

  • "Kapat" perhaps is related to "Kaput"? I thought "kaput" was German in origin, Turkish doesn't have any relation to German, does it?

  • I get far more use out of my iPod than I ever got from any book.

  • Gosh, those Chinese characters continue to intimidate me. The spoken language isn't so tough, but the mental disconnect of the written language doesn't work for me! :)

  • Great start. You can change Facebook over too - at least in Turkey you can. Did you think you would get grammar points right here in the comments? Maybe that was your plan? No, I don't think so. Keep soaking it in! Kolay Gelsin!

  • Uh sorry :) Please go ahead. It is more fun to discover yourself anyway.

  • No it doesn't. "kaputt" is a German word, like I would say "kapot" in the related Dutch language. Both mean something like "broken, not working".
    Turkish is not Indo-European.

  • Wow, this is nice. You are REALLY enjoying this new adventure, and it has barely begun. I got curious, what italian e-book is that that you are reading (if think this asking stuff too much personal, of course I understand).
    I was looking at your Bucket List, and I see that Turkish is right there. But you have so many languages that you wanna learn, and you've learnt italian, that ain't even in the list. How do you do that? How do you resist the temptation of learning two or more languages at the very same time?Good luck, Randy, I will keep watching your progress. Just hope you do it, 'cause you are like a role model for me=p

  • You just inspired me to switching my iPod Touch to Italian . . .

  • It was in the book, you know... :)

  • Reading is a different experience in Chinese, the written word and reading means something different to Chinese native speakers..I don't think in the long run it is that bad though, but it does require a different approach. Trying to read Chinese early won't help in the same way it will with a phonetic language for sure.There are some interesting side effects with Chinese, as a Chinese friend of mine explained, he as a mandarin speaker can't use a dictionary to learn Cantonese as most of the words would be written the same (imagine if all German words were written the same as English but with radically different pronouciation).Or to put it another way switching a device from Mandarin to Cantonese would have little effect even though the languages are as different as English and German.Note (before any Asian language guys jump on me): it might switch to traditional characters but that doesn't help the Mandarin speaker learn Cantonese, also of course Mandarin can be written in Traditional Characters as in Taiwan). Also Cantonese does have grammar differences and a few unique characters but often Cantonese speakers have to put up with Mandarin grammar in their written materials). My Ipod can switch language to simplified or traditional characters but as far as I can tell the words are all the same (I generally have it on simplified). A literate cantonese speaker could use the menus the same as a literate mandarin speaker but if each spoke them out they wouldn't understand what the other was saying. In some cases I can "read" meaning in Japanese where a lot of kanji are used but I have no idea what the words are.There is a lot more, I find the differences fun though, it is not often you get the chance to completely revisit what reading means.In case you think it is all bad imagine you could go anywhere in Europe and no matter how little you understood the spoken language, you could get out paper and pen and communicate perfectly. Also it seams speed reading has great potential in Chinese (thanks to the conciseness of the characters).

  • The Italian book is something I've been writing, not reading.The temptation is easy to resist when you've got hundreds of eyes on you, expecting to see you live up to your promise

  • Yeah, its possible to change Facebook, Google, Gmail, and several other commonly used sites.

  • Turkish and German have shared several features with each other... but I don't think this is a case of that.

  • Always such interesting comments from you!

  • Interesting method - digital immersion! Unfortunately, I've had to put my mission to learn Spanish on hold for the time being due to other time commitments. I know enough already, though, that I may consider switching my PC to Spanish at some point. Great idea.

  • I'm presuming if you haven't already, add some Turkish feeds into twitter. I use this all the time as I get short bursts of colloquial text which is ideal and you quickly spot patterns people use :-)

  • Yeah, that's something I do with every language. It's a great way to get bite-sized lessons in colloquial language.

  • I always hate the "I don't have time" excuse. One of the main things I try to deal with on this blog is the fact that we don't need time.

  • I was getting pretty heavy into Spanish this past fall, using the Michel Thomas courses as well as Skyping with friends from Mexico, but I found that it was taking up several hours a day which I just didn't have...I'm definitely open to suggestions. I would love to "learn how to learn" without a time commitment. Are there any particular posts on the topic that I should check out?

  • This one is directly related... here's an idea. Seriously try this, and tell me what you discover: take an ink pen and write a message on the back of your hand, just above your thumb, where it's visible from any angle. Write "Could I be doing this in Spanish?" and keep it for one full day.Every time you reach for the phone, or pick up a newspaper or remote control, every time you pull out your ATM card, see that message and think of how you could be learning something righ now.Let me know how it goes.

  • Well, I'm just thinking that there's a good chance that one of them got it from the other since the meaning and spelling is so similar.

  • Facebook is one of those I had changed in the past, but then finally got annoyed and changed back. Unlike other sites, they seem to be intent on revamping their UI every other month, so I never really had time to get used to what everything was before the went and shuffled it around again (especially since I don't visit FB that frequently).For sites like Google and devices like my MP3 player or GPS system, however, I have no qualms about setting them to my target language as the UI stays mostly, if not completely, static.

  • There does seem to be less comfort with changing Facebook... But sometimes learning new things requires us to get out of our comfort zone. Besides, Facebook always has a handy menu at the very bottom for changing the language (back).

  • Just found your comment reply in my email as I was trudging toward inbox zero! I love this idea. I just read the post that you referenced. I guess I'm still a little skeptical, just because doing things in a foreign language does slow you down and take additional time - I mean it would take me at least twice as long to write this comment in Spanish.I'm absolutely going to take you up on your suggestion. I'll let you know how it goes!

  • Fantastic! If it turns out well, maybe you can write the story up as a guest post! :)

  • I've changed my iPod language but quite a bit is still in English. What did I do wrong?

  • There is some responsibility for language support which is the responsibility of the developers of the various apps. Sadly, most people only ever support English, no matter what you've set your device to. But Apple's apps have full language support.

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