i've heard the Turkish president's name pronounced in about 100 ways. what's the right way, and how does that connect with the latin letters?

P.s. this is not a duplicate. I did not ask about g in Turkish in some particular situation, I asked about a specific word.

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    Turkish used to have a consonant something like a "g" sound, but it was lost between vowels in the standard Turkish accent, similar to how English "dough" is pronounced "doe". The "w" like sound is a transitional sound influenced by the sounds of the surrounding vowels, like how in English the word "going" is pronounced a bit like "go-wing" and "seeing" is pronounced a bit like "see-ying." You can see some information on the Wikipedia page on Turkic: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkic_languages#Schema – brass tacks Apr 20 '17 at 0:09
  • Related paper: researchgate.net/publication/… – brass tacks Apr 20 '17 at 0:20
  • Turkish does have a separate, ordinary /g/ sound. For example,"ğ" does not occur at the start of any Turkish words, but "g" can. It seems "g" can also occur between vowels in modern Turkish, where it may contrast with "ğ." – brass tacks Apr 20 '17 at 0:21
  • Russian ending -ogo changed to -ovo over time, I guess due to the same historical process. – Constantine Geist Apr 20 '17 at 13:34
  • His name is spelled with a silent ğ ("yumuşak ge", marked as silent with a brĕve, just like the silent G in though is marked with an H). Many names have silent letters, in many languages. – jlawler Apr 20 '17 at 13:39

According to Zimmer & Orgun (1999, p. 155), the letter <ğ> has different pronunciation acording to its environment:

  1. Word-finally and preconsonantally, it lengthens the preceding vowel.
  2. Between front vowels /e, i, ø, y/ it is an approximant, either front-velar [ɰ̟] or palatal [j].
  3. Otherwise, intervocalic ğ is phonetically zero (deleted).

Since in the word Erdoğan this ğ is between the back vowels, the pronunciation of this name falls under the third case of the rule, that is it is not pronounced at all, it is just the transition from the rounded [o] to the unrounded [a] that sounds like [w] to you.

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    the obvious question: why write it at all? why not "Erdoan"? – mobileink Apr 20 '17 at 21:13
  • i think it must be a remnant transcribed from Ottoman with Arabic script? – mobileink Apr 20 '17 at 21:18
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    @mobileink - The answer lies in the nature of the Turkish orthography: it was constructed in the 1920s by scholars so that to be clear, practical and scietifical. For example, the important features of vowels are even reflected in their shape, front vowels all have dots (ö, ü, i), back ones don't (o, u, ı), etc. As for <ğ>, the aim to introduce it was also justified, Turkey has lots of dialects and in each of them this <ğ> is pronounced differently, this letter levels the differences greatly unifying the nation and making Turks from different regions understand each other better. – Yellow Sky Apr 20 '17 at 21:26
  • @mobileink - And you can also see that in the Standard Turkish it's silent only in some cases, but in most of the other cases it is either pronounced or affects the pronunciation of other letters. Long ago it was always pronounced, but later in different cases it got to be pronounced differently or totally disappeared. – Yellow Sky Apr 20 '17 at 21:31
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    I think that your comment about the ğ being pronounced differently in various dialects should be included in the main answer. In the Turkish dialect I am used to hear, it sounds more like γ and sometimes w. It is definetely not zero. I am not a native speaker, exposed mainly to the dialect of Hatay, so I was totally unaware of the ğ -> ∅ as a general rule. @Yellow Sky – Midas Apr 22 '17 at 9:52

The name is properly spelled Erdoğan, with a "soft g".

The "soft g" in Turkish doesn't have its own sound per se; before a consonant (or at the end of the word) it indicates lengthening of the previous vowel, and before a vowel it indicates that the two vowels are separated.

So the president's name is properly pronounced /ˈeɾdo‿an/.

  • can you please give some additional examples? fwiw i thought (pure speculation) that latinate "g" kinda looks like arabic waw. – mobileink Apr 19 '17 at 23:55
  • can you have "g" without the thingie on top? – mobileink Apr 19 '17 at 23:58
  • p.s. i do not know how to pronounce "ˈeɾdo‿an" – mobileink Apr 20 '17 at 0:00
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    @mobileink g and waw are unrelated afaik. g originated from G, which originated from C with a little tick on one side, which originated from gamma. – Draconis Apr 20 '17 at 1:26
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    @mobileink Turkish does also have a <g>, which is an actual consonant. And as for the IPA, that symbol is just a glide between the vowels. – Draconis Apr 20 '17 at 1:26

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