There are around 15 million native Turkish speakers in Southeast Europe and 65 million native speakers in Western Asia. This language is spoken by small groups of ethnic Turks in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania and some other regions of Eastern Europe.
Before 1928, Turkish was written using a specific form of Arabic writing. In order to modernise Turkey, the administration adopted an adapted form of the Latin alphabet in the 20th century to replace the Arabic writing.
Turkish words have “vowel harmony” and this is true of other Turkic languages as well, but Turkish is the most common of these languages in terms of number of native speakers. There are eight vowels in Turkish, classified based on where they are formed in the mouth (front or back) and other factors as well. Vowel harmony is the concept that a word native to Turkish must have either all back vowels or all front vowels, with exceptions.
- One of the most distinct characteristics of Turkish is the agglutinative nature of the language. In Turkish, you can say a lot with just a few words. One word can have many affixes, endings or suffixes, and these can also be used to create new words.
- Some Turkish words made it into English, such as divan, kayak, kebab, kiosk, pilaf and yoghurt.
- The Turkish alphabet has 29 letters. Turkish has 8 vowels (“a, e, ı, i, o, ö, u, ü”) and it does not contain the letters W, X or Q. However, Turkish has 3 extra consonants: Ç, Ğ, Ş. It is a phonetic language, so if you learn to pronounce the alphabet, you will be able to read Turkish right away.
- Turkey has one of the world’s oldest and biggest malls, made up of a warren of 61 streets lined by more than 3,000 shops and currently occupying an incomprehensible 333,000 square feet.
- Turkey’s 10,000 plant and 80,000 animal species help rank the country among the world’s 35 biodiversity hotspots. Twitchers can visit more than half a dozen bird sanctuaries for sightings of some of the country’s 475 species, or 5% of the global variety. It’s a great place for flower lovers too.
Turkey has a domestic consumer market of 80 million people and benefits for UK businesses exporting to Turkey include the increasing use of English for business, a six-day average to start a business and the youngest and fastest-growing population in Europe (700,000 graduates per year).
It has European business ethics and modern management practices, a large consumer base with a growing middle class, new initiatives to meet EU standards making it a more familiar business environment and not forgetting that Turkey is the gateway to the markets of Central Asia, South Caucasus and the Middle East.
The bulk of Turkey’s economy is made up of a diversified services sector including real estate, tourism, financial services, education and health. It is worth noting however that the Turkish Government is trying to decrease Turkey’s import dependency in its growth and export structure while increasing its capabilities to become an exporter of high-technology products.
Many Turks are devout or conservative Muslims, so you should adhere to local dress codes when you are away from resorts and when visiting mosques. Acceptable dress code depends on which part of the country you are visiting or which part of a city you are in. Overall though, Turkey is conservative concerning dress.
Turks employ a variety of unobvious body language. Clicking the tongue against the roof of the mouth and simultaneously raising the eyebrows and chin means “no” or “there isn’t any” and those who are economical with movement will rely on their eyebrows alone. By contrast, wagging the head rapidly from side to side means “Explain, I don’t understand”, while a single, obliquely inclined nod means “yes”.
There are many family-run businesses in Turkey, although there are many big multinationals where a more corporate culture is visible. Turks want to do business with those they are keen on, trust, feel comfortable with and can provide a long-term relationship. If they sense that you are hiding something, you will most likely be rejected.
Business tip: At the start of the meeting, it is expected for you to greet your Turkish counterpart with a firm handshake. However, for the Turkish women, men should wait for the woman to offer her hand first.
Here are some basic greetings and phrases to familiarise yourself with:
|Thank you||Teşekkür ederim|
We have worked extensively in the technology & engineering sector in Turkish, most specifically on websites and technical white papers for our client Zettlex. They are a position sensor manufacturer for extreme environments so a high level of technical accuracy is required.