How To Do First Person Verb Conjugation In Turkish

We've looked at a few properties of verbs already, and already figured out a lot about verbs without using any instruction at all. But we still haven't established even the basic first-person conjugations. After three months, I can't even say "I'm hungry" yet!

Well, it turns out, I can say it. Actually, I can say a lot once I think about it. I just didn't know it! I've had a hunch about these conjugations for a while, and by now I think I'm pretty confident that this is the way it works...

First, ben is the Turkish first-person pronoun, but like many languages with strong conjugation patterns, the subject seems to be omitted, only being used for clarification or emphasis. (Or in the case of "I am" constructs, as we'll see in a moment.)

And second, the ending -um conjugates things to the first person. I've also seen this written as -im. There may be other ways, too.

Note: I still need to figure out this vowel harmony. But even though I can't express it as a rule yet, I _am starting to develop a feel for it, small as it may be._

By example

So how can I feel so sure about this conjugation? Well, by observation, of couse. Here's a small bit of text I saved while observing a chatroom:

A: nerden sen.
B: istanbul. siz?
A: ben de istanbul ama almanya da yasiyorum.

Person A asks, "Where are you?" Person B replies, "Istanbul. You?" And then we get a big, beautiful sample of the first-person in all it's glory: "I am from Istanbul, but I'm currently living in Germany."

Here, we see ben used in the zero-copula "I am" construct in the first phrase, but omitted from the second phrase because of verb conjugation. We can feel confident about this, since first sentence also lacks the copula but uses the pronoun.

And we know where the verb is because we can recognize it from its -iyor ending, which makes it ongoing, or imperfective. And we've learned that the ending for the conjugation follows the ending for the imperfective aspect: yaş(a)-iyor-um.

So we can now use what we recently learned about verb negation to say: İstanbulda yaşamıyorum, or "I'm not living in Istanbul." Cool, eh?

Why I like chatrooms

It should be noted that because this sample comes from a chatroom, the spelling is always suspect. The quoted text actually seems to say, "I'm in Germany making laws," as the verb yasamak means "to legislate," but that wouldn't make as much sense as "I'm living in Germany," which is what you would get with the verb yaşamak, if you weren't in a chat room struggling with Turkish characters on a German computer.

That may seem confusing, but that actually shows why I love using chatrooms to learn. I learned two verbs, not just one. And I also gained the ability to make a play on words, later, if I want.

Öğreniyorum! (I'm learning!)


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  • Evet, öğreniyorsun, zamanla daha hızlı öğreneceksin.You can try https://zemberek-web.appspot... (Ascii -> Tr option) to convert Turkish words that are written using a German or English keyboard.As a note, Person A has terrible grammar :).

  • Re: vowel harmony - I wouldn sweat learning the rules. If you're developing a feel for it, the rules will come.I learned the rules first and it wasn't until I started atually uttering the words that I started developing a feel for it. On paper, the rules didn't/don't always match what's coming out of my mouth, but the "feel" for it is slowly correcting any inconsistencies.

  • I'm sure that this, like any other language, can be picked up whether you know the rules or not. In fact, that is (at least in part) what I'm trying to prove with my challenge this year.

  • Yeah, I did kind of tet the sense that Person A was more colloquial and informal, while Person B seemed more cultured and proper. This also seemed evident in the choice of sen vs siz.

  • The written rules for vowel harmony make a mountain out of a molehill, once your ear is in it will all fall into place without seeming like you actually had to learn anything.

  • I'm 100% certain that what you say is true. However, I can't write "once your ear is in" on a blog. :) I need to understand it enough to write it out, or else my job is incomplete.

  • How do you deal with poor grammar then? I e been looking at some Russian chat rooms but sometimes it's hard to get the meaning because of the grammar.

  • Şey, Türkçe öğrendiktan sonra İstanbul gelince buluşalım. Tamam mı?

  • Sounds good! (Sorry, don't know how to say that yet in Turkish.)

  • Actually, that's a great point. This kind of thing is particularly important with Russian, because of the different alphabet.Bad grammar and bad spelling force you to learn roots and endings, and pronunciation quirks. When you're first learning, you need to try variations and use tools with spell checkers so you can see where something might be wrong. Most times (as with the above example) it's a result of the limitations of an English keyboard.Transliteration is a fluid and unpredictable thing. Some people transliterate phonetically (eg: четыре = chetyre, шесть = shyest') while others try to duplicate their native spelling (eg: четыре = 4etire, шесть = west) and then there's every possible combination of the two. I firmly believe that learning to read transliterated Russian gave me a far better understanding of the language.

  • Its "güzel" The all encompassing word for everything positive. Add çok to really mean it. Çok Güzel!

  • Cool!

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