This blog article is a follow-up on Vowel Harmony (Part 1), so please make sure you read Part 1, otherwise this blog article will not make sense.

To put it all together, we can use a string of suffixes long beloved of Turkish teachers and a tongue-twister it is worth memorising to keep your vowel harmony game strong:

Çekoslovakyalılaştıramadıklarımızdan mısınız?

Which means, “Are you one of those people whom we were unable to make into Czechoslovakians?”

Clearly the effort in general was a failure, since Czechoslovakia is no longer with us, but let us break down the word itself to show vowel harmony in action:

Çekoslovakya – Czechoslovakia

+ – short vowel harmony: the li/lı/lü/lu suffix signifies that they are “from” a place, in this  case Czechoslovakia

+laş – long vowel harmony: the -laş-/-leş- component is used to make a noun into a verb of transformation – so in this case it means “becoming Czechoslovakians”

+tır – short vowel harmony: the -tir-/-tır-/-tur-/-tür- component is the causative – “to cause to become Czechoslovakians”

+ama – two lots of long vowel harmony (!). The -ama-/-eme- component indicates an inability, so “to be unable to cause to become Czechoslovakians”.

+dıklarımız – short, long and two short. The “-dik/-dık/-dük/-duk” makes a verb into a clause, the “-lar/-ler” is the plural form and the “-imiz/-ımız/-ümüz/-umuz” is the first person plural possessive (our). So “those (lar) whom (dık) we (ımız) were unable to cause to become Czechoslovakians”.

+dan – long vowel harmony. -dan/-den is “from”, “part of” or “among”. So “Among those whom we were unable to cause to become Czechoslovakians”.

– short vowel harmony. Although usually vowel harmony only applies to suffixes, there are two prominent exceptions: the yes/no question word (mi/mı/mü/mu) and a word meaning “also” (da/de as a separate word). “Is he/she/it among those whom we were unable to cause to become Czechoslovakians?”.

+sınız – two lots of short vowel harmony. Finally, this is the second person plural (or formal) “to be”, making the whole sentence “Are you among those whom we were unable to cause to become Czechoslovakians?” or, “Are you one of those people whom we were unable to make into Czechoslovakians?”

No-one is expecting you to be able to pronounce – or instinctively comprehend – this whole word right now, but if you try pronouncing it, you will see how much easier it is to say with all the vowels in the same corner of your mouth.

In contrast, if we wanted to ask if we had failed to make you into a Swede, the vowel harmony would follow other lines throughout:

İsveçlileştiremediklerimizden misiniz?

There are a couple of exceptions to these general rules:

  • A few suffixes have vowels in them that do not harmonise, and in this case you continue harmonising after that vowel in accordance with what the non-harmonising vowel is.
  • If there is a foreign word pronounced differently to how it is spelt, you harmonise according to the pronunciation, not the spelling: e.g. the Arabic-derived word saat, meaning clock or time, is pronounced somewhere closer to sa-et, and suffixes harmonise on “e”. The French-derived liberal also harmonises on “e”, while a muggle from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter harmonises on “ı” (being pronounced approximately “mug-ıl”).

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