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Interacting… accordingly

19 Mart 2012 , Pazartesi 11:08
Interacting… accordingly
melis.sunay@halklailiskiler.com

Turkish, what a beautiful language, as all languages are to their native speakers… and being a native speaker, in spite of growing up in another country, I believe that I blend in quite smoothly after all those years of living abroad.  Of course it was family rule to speak Turkish in our household so as not to forget it, which is one of the reasons that my accent also remained unblemished.

One interesting challenge I have enjoyed thus far in Turkey however, is trying to understand the different dialects here, in addition to the various accents used by individuals from different geographical locations of the country.  This of course is common knowledge to everyone since different accents from differing parts of any country are expected wherever in the world.   I’m told that Istanbul dialect is standard yet there are places, even in Istanbul, where the locals can treat one to a surprise with their fast-paced, remote sounding Turkish discussions…Most likely because they originate from a different part of the country, if not from a different country where Turkish is a spoken language.

In this county of approximately 74 million, most speak Turkish with, surprisingly to my knowledge, 37 other languages on record, with only 2 that have become extinct.  Turkish, meanwhile, is evidently spoken by 83 million people worldwide. So like English, Turkish is spoken in various other countries, with differing international versions as it would change in different ways in different places according to needs. 

According to studies conducted on Turkish dialects, the language varies throughout the country.  The Turkish spoken in the West of the country is considered standard while there's a bit of variation in the Black Sea region, and a definite distinction between standard Turkish and that spoken in the Southeast.  This, however, would be difficult for me to verify since I haven’t travelled there for the purposes of conducting any such studies; yet the dialects of the regions I’ve been to have been quite entertaining nevertheless.  

I had been wondering, meanwhile, why many individuals ask where the other is from on their first meeting here.  The answers usually don’t only involve the location of their former residence in the country, but further, their national roots as well as international heritage, going beyond current Turkish boundaries.  It is not only physical traits in individuals that prompt this question in people, but the regional dialect of their colleague also signals their membership of particular groups, which is an important dimension of identity in many communities here. In some cases, locals can even recognize the exact city the other is from just by the accent, usually tossed into the conversation for the purposes of entertainment on this first meeting…

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