The Turkish Soft G


The so-called "soft G", Ğ, in the Turkish alphabet presents somewhat of a challenge to both native speakers and newcomers.

Based on what I could find in online searches, it seems there are a lot of native Turkish speakers who live under the impression that the Ğ has a sound.

It doesn't.

The sole purpose of Ğ is to extend the preceding vowel to connect with the next vowel. It should have been an accent. But, the Turkish alphabet was designed by decree in 1928. It's most useful accented letter, â which allows one to distinguish between kârını al and karını al, was officially dropped some time following the military coup in 1980.

But, no need for a history lesson. For reasons that were either never explained to me or never made sense, a letter, Ğ, the soft G, was inserted into the alphabet instead of using some squiggly to identify the need to extend a vowel.

Coming back to the topic at hand: The soft G cannot be sounded. If you want to amuse yourself, you can browse YouTube videos where various Turks in various states of seriousness make various guttural sounds trying to demonstrate how to pronounce the soft G.

You can't.

The only thing you can do, through practice, is to learn how to extend the preceding vowel and transform it into the following one when you see a soft G. Incidentally, that's why there are no words that begin with a Ğ in Turkish.


Ağabey : Aabi
[ Older Brother in Turkish is Ağabey : Aabi ]Older Brother
Ağa : Aaa
[ Feudal Landlord in Turkish is Ağa : Aaa ]Feudal Landlord
Kağıt : Kâaıt
[ Paper in Turkish is Kağıt : Kâaıt ]Paper
Oğul : Ooul
[ Son in Turkish is Oğul : Ooul ]Son
Soğuk : Soouk
[ Cold in Turkish is Soğuk : Soouk ]Cold
Tereyağı : Tereyaaı
[ Butter in Turkish is Tereyağı : Tereyaaı ]Butter
[ Fatty in Turkish is Yağlı ]Fatty
Yağmur : Yaamur
[ Rain in Turkish is Yağmur : Yaamur ]Rain

etc …

ğ as the last letter

Consider the word which means net in Turkish. There is no vowel following the ğ. What do you do?

Well, you follow the letter with a soft guttural extension of the preceding a. That is, the sound of the a doesn't immediately end, but fades away. It does so quickly. As in, agh. Never go on and on making a supposedly amusing aaaaagggggghhhhh sound.

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