How To Use Possession In Turkish Grammar

Remember when I said there was a lot you could learn from a social network? I wasn't kidding! I've already written two posts about how much Turkish I'm learning from Yonja, and that was without even logging in!

Today, we're going to change that. I'm going to look at what's inside, after you log in. And I'm going to start with the column of action links on the left.

We see a series of links on the left: mesajlarım, bildirimlerim, hediyelerim, ziyaretçilerim, arkadaşlarım, favorilerim, fotoğraflarım, testlerim, anketlerim, ilanlarım.

All of the links (except three) have two things in common. The first common trait is that they're all plural. We already know that the -lar and -ler endings make them plural.

But the second thing they have in common is that -im or -ım ending, which appears to make them first-person possessives. Mesajlarım - my messages. Testlerim - my tests. One doesn't need a dictionary or translator to figure out what these words mean!

The theory is pretty sound, but just to test it and be sure, I went over to Google Translate and added endings to a few words to see what happens:

I tried adding the ending to kitap in Google Translate, but it choked on kitapım, the ending I was expecting. I tried the other three (-im, -um, -üm), and still no luck. I was almost ready to scrap it and assume that I was wrong...

But on a whim, I did it backward: I tried translating my book from English to Turkish, and I got kitabım! So my ending was right, but there was a consonant shift from p to b happening. I'll have to watch for that in the future.

To confirm, I tried a few more. Indeed, Google Translate informed me that arkadaşım means my friend, but then I got more trouble when I tried köpekim. Fortunately, Google's "did you mean" spell-checking informed me it should be köpeğim, which indeed translates to my dog.

So my understanding of possessive first-person endings is validated, but it appears there are some consonant shifts at the ends of words which I need to pay attention to. My hunch is that this has to do with devoicing, a phenomenon I've already learned about in Russian...


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  • In my humble opinion you’re confusing the terminology. /k/ is a voiceless consonant whereas /g/ is a voiced consonant so surely you’re thinking about voicing rather than devoicing? Sometimes /k/ becomes /g/ by consonant
    alternation, similarly with /p/ turning into /b/ and /t/ turning
    into /d/ respectively. Without even knowing anything about Turkish just
    by looking at your example it seems to me what triggers this process is the
    presence of the vowel following the final /k/, /t/ or /p/.
    Also, you say you learnt about devoicing from Russian. Well, if you ever get a
    chance to listen to a Polish person speak you’ll no doubt notice that devoicing
    is fairly common in this language too (assuming you know what devoicing is, of
    course). I’d advise you to watch the declension of certain nouns in Turkish and
    the chances are that you’ll observe consonant assimilation in postfixes as well
    as voicing (rather than devoicing). Good luck with your studies.

  • I'm not confusing the terminology. I'm simply referring to the phenomenon where certain sound are devoiced when the occur at the end of a word. You're just looking at it from the opposite point of view.

  • Why would you even refer to this if devoicing isn’t present
    in the examples you give in your article? Isn’t it a bit irrelevant? You said
    ‘’My hunch is that this has to do with devoicing, a phenomenon I’ve already
    learned about in Russian…’’ Hmm sorry if I misinterpreted what you wrote but to me
    you clearly did confuse the terminology. Not that it matters, I just don’t want your readers to be led
    astray…

  • First, I'm not leading anyone astray. It's very clear in the word "hunch" that I'm not an expert at Turkish grammar. In fact, this entire year is about learning it by discovery, and publishing that... including the guesses that are wrong.Second, if you stand on one side of the glass and I stand on the other, we can both point at the same thing, but I'll say it's on the right, and you'll say it's on the left. Arguing about the difference is pointless and ignorant.You're looking at endings as additions to a word, whereas I'm looking at word roots, as words without endings. For me, from this perspective, these consonants are indeed DE-voiced.I appreciated your attempt at civility in the first comment, but you're inviting pettiness with your remark about "leading astray". Please be more civil. I hate banning commenters, but it's well-known that I'll do it if I must, in order to maintain civility here.

  • I think "consonant shift" as he used it is the more accurate term for it. But in his three examples, in "köpeğim" the "ğ" is indeed voiceless. It always is though, so there's no devoicing involved, even if the term seems to be commonly used to describe the consonant.

  • I liked the post, it's motivated me to check out 'Nasza klasa' or '
    ВКонтакте' once more.

  • Ewelina, you are correct, this is voicing, namely, changing a voiceless stop consonant to a voiced consonant. Changes: p-b, ç-c, k-ğ, t-d. As expected there are exceptions; for most cases this rule does not apply for single syllable words.
    You can also check "Last consonant alteration" section in this document: https://docs.google.com/doc...

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