Language barriers in Turkey

Hello,

Learning a new language is a part of the expat process. Let's find out how crucial it is to know the language in Turkey.

What is the official language in Turkey, and what are the other popular spoken languages?

Is it possible to live in Turkey and get by without speaking the language?

How do you manage to communicate with the locals if you don't speak the native/official language fluently?

What are some popular and useful phrases that expats absolutely need to know?

Can you share some tips about how to survive in Turkey on a daily basis without speaking the language?

Thank you for sharing your experience.

Priscilla

Dear Priscilla,

Living in Turkey without knowing the language was an extremely hard experience for me.

Not many people speak English, and I was laughed at a lot by waiters/ taxi drivers for speaking basic Turkish with an accent or not knowing the correct words to use.

I highly recommend that expats learn a basic conversational level of Turkish before moving there.

Useful phrases include:

Merhaba (hello)
Nasilisin (how are you?)
Iyiyim tesekkuler (I'm fine, thank you)
Çok iyi (very good)
Tamam (Okay)
Bir daka (one minute)
Lutfen (please)
Bir tane (one piece of...)
Bir (one)
Iki (two)
Uç (three)
Dört (four)
Bes (five)
Alti (six)
Yedi (seven)
Sekiz (eight)
Dokus (nine)
Çok güzel (very beautiful)
Evet (yes)
Hayir (no)
Çok sogak (very hot)


Also gestures are important, Turkish people colloquially say no by lifting their head and tutting, I confused this with yes in the beginning.

Great job Hsiegieda!

I would like to add some more:

Memnun oldum. (Nice to meet you)
iyi günler (have a nice day!)
kolay gelsin (literally 'may it be easy')
hayırlı işler (have a beneficial, good work)
buyurun (come in please, here you are)
bilmiyorum. (I dont know)
Türkçe bilmiyorum (I dont speak Turkish 'literarally' --> I dont know Turkish)
Pazartesi (Monday)
Salı (Tuesday)
Çarşamba (Wed)
Perşembe (Thursday)
Cuma (Friday)
Cumartesi (Saturday)
Pazar (Sunday)
... var (there is/are   ...)
... yok (there isnt/arent ...)
hesap lütfen (bill, 'check'  please)
bu kaç lira? (how much doest that cost?)
bu ne kadar? (how much is that?)
iyiyim (I'm fine)
hastayım (I'm sick)
Acil durum (emergency situation)
yardım edin lütfen (please help)
güle güle (bye bye buuut someone leaving should say "hoşça kal" and the staying one telling "güle güle)
menü alabilir miyim? (can I take menu?)

Thats all for now!
Görüşürüz! (See you!:)
:cheers:

Forget about living in Turkey without knowing Turkish. Not only most people do not speak English but also many a times they feel offended if they learn you live in Turkey but haven't learned its language. They are Very nationalist and they take pride in their language as a part of their identity and they expect you to learn it while living in their country.
Of course on the bright side, it's not very hard to learn Turkish, specially if you immerse yourself and you're willing to learn, you can make progress quite fast.
And about words, as others recommended good words/phrases I'm not going to repeat it. I just recommend you learn first Numbers and some simple phrases like hello/how are you/how much is this = merhaba/nasilsin/bu ne kadar. And you're good to go!

P.s. oh! I almost forgot. Turkish people are very very kind and they really love foreigners and you can really count on their help. So don't worry at all. Many times some of them literally went out of their ways to help me one way or another and I'm forever grateful to them.

Dear [at]Hsiegieda,

very informative post. it just needs a lil' bit of editing;
*Dokuz (nine)
*Çok soguk (very cold), g is not pronounced here.
*Çok sicak (very hot) Ç is pronounced like Ch in Chalk, and C in sicak is pronounced like J like in japan.

Hsiegieda :

Dear Priscilla,

Living in Turkey without knowing the language was an extremely hard experience for me.

Not many people speak English, and I was laughed at a lot by waiters/ taxi drivers for speaking basic Turkish with an accent or not knowing the correct words to use.

I highly recommend that expats learn a basic conversational level of Turkish before moving there.

Useful phrases include:

Merhaba (hello)
Nasilisin (how are you?)
Iyiyim tesekkuler (I'm fine, thank you)
Çok iyi (very good)
Tamam (Okay)
Bir daka (one minute)
Lutfen (please)
Bir tane (one piece of...)
Bir (one)
Iki (two)
Uç (three)
Dört (four)
Bes (five)
Alti (six)
Yedi (seven)
Sekiz (eight)
Dokus (nine)
Çok güzel (very beautiful)
Evet (yes)
Hayir (no)
Çok sogak (very hot)


Also gestures are important, Turkish people colloquially say no by lifting their head and tutting, I confused this with yes in the beginning.

lol . very good :D


Merhaba (hello)
Nasılsın (how are you?)
Iyiyim teşekkürler (I'm fine, thank you)
Çok iyi (very good)
Tamam (Okay)
Bir dakika (one minute)
Lütfen (please)
Bir tane (one piece of...)
Bir (one)
iki (two)
üç (three)
Dört (four)
Beş (five)
Altı (six)
Yedi (seven)
Sekiz (eight)
Dokuz (nine)
Çok güzel (very beautiful)
Evet (yes)
Hayır (no)
Çok soğuk (very hot)

I fixed typos

Behnamk :

Forget about living in Turkey without knowing Turkish. Not only most people do not speak English but also many a times they feel offended if they learn you live in Turkey but haven't learned its language. They are Very nationalist and they take pride in their language as a part of their identity and they expect you to learn it while living in their country.
Of course on the bright side, it's not very hard to learn Turkish, specially if you immerse yourself and you're willing to learn, you can make progress quite fast.
And about words, as others recommended good words/phrases I'm not going to repeat it. I just recommend you learn first Numbers and some simple phrases like hello/how are you/how much is this = merhaba/nasilsin/bu ne kadar. And you're good to go!

P.s. oh! I almost forgot. Turkish people are very very kind and they really love foreigners and you can really count on their help. So don't worry at all. Many times some of them literally went out of their ways to help me one way or another and I'm forever grateful to them.

what? I hope you are joking...

The actual reason why most people doesn't speak english has nothing to do with our pride in Turkishor nationalism. So its totally different from French people. I don't know where you get this impression but it's rather unfortunate observation.

it's because of education levels of society. Younger people tend to know better, people from 25+ mostly doesn't know because it wasn't necessary back then.

infoaboutTurkey :
Behnamk :

Forget about living in Turkey without knowing Turkish. Not only most people do not speak English but also many a times they feel offended if they learn you live in Turkey but haven't learned its language. They are Very nationalist and they take pride in their language as a part of their identity and they expect you to learn it while living in their country.
Of course on the bright side, it's not very hard to learn Turkish, specially if you immerse yourself and you're willing to learn, you can make progress quite fast.
And about words, as others recommended good words/phrases I'm not going to repeat it. I just recommend you learn first Numbers and some simple phrases like hello/how are you/how much is this = merhaba/nasilsin/bu ne kadar. And you're good to go!

P.s. oh! I almost forgot. Turkish people are very very kind and they really love foreigners and you can really count on their help. So don't worry at all. Many times some of them literally went out of their ways to help me one way or another and I'm forever grateful to them.

what? I hope you are joking...

The actual reason why most people doesn't speak english has nothing to do with our pride in Turkishor nationalism. So its totally different from French people. I don't know where you get this impression but it's rather unfortunate observation.

it's because of education levels of society. Younger people tend to know better, people from 25+ mostly doesn't know because it wasn't necessary back then.

Being a Turk you may not realize how your nationalism affects it and that's really ok. I lived in turkey around 4 years and mostly in everyday life I observed this to be true. Also, I don't deny element of education but the ironical point is even younger generation cannot speak English very good. What they are taught in school is just grammar and word memorization which has little to do with speaking english.

If you have stayed 4 years in Turkey and still didn't comprehend the notion behind why most Turkish people can't speak english and confuse it with a motive that comes from nationalism or being superior to other countries, you might have probably stayed more and observe throughly.

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