Turkish copula

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Turkish language copulas, which are called as ek-eylem (Turkish pronunciation: [ec ˈej.lem]) or ek-fiil (Turkish pronunciation: [ec fiˈ.il]), both of which literally mean "suffix-verb", are one of the most distinct features of Turkish grammar. Since Turkish is a highly agglutinative language, copulas are rendered as suffixes, albeit with a few exceptions.

Zero copula[edit]

Further information: Zero copula

Zero copula is the rule for third person, as in Hungarian and Russian. That means two nouns, or a noun and an adjective can be juxtaposed to make a sentence without using any copula. Third person plural might be indicated with the use of plural suffix "-lar/-ler".

Hakan yolcu. Hakan [is a] traveller.
Deniz mavi. [The] sea [is] blue.
Kapılar ve camlar açık. Doors and windows [are] open.
Asansör bozuk. Elevator [is] broken.
İşçiler üzgün. Workers [are] sad.

To be (Olmak vs. İmek)[edit]

Turkish "to be" as regular/auxiliary verb (olmak) and "to be" as copula (imek) contrasts.

Auxiliary verb imek ("i-" is the root) shows its existence only through suffixes to predicates that can be nouns, adjectives or arguably conjugated verb stems, arguably being the only irregular verb in Turkish.

The missing forms of i- are supplied by ol-: the infinitive olmak is an example, since there is no infinitive *imek. An infinitive ermek appeared in ancient texts; its stem er- became the current i-.[1]

The word "idir", a variation of "imek" indicates alethic modality, so is used for emphasis, or to prevent ambiguity. "İdir" is an enclitic word, and exhibits vowel harmony when used as a suffix. Therefore "Ali asker idir" turns into "Ali askerdir". In examples, emphasised word is written italic:

Abbas yolcudur Abbas [is] traveller.
Deniz mavidir Sea [is] blue
Kapılar ve camlar açıktır Doors and windows [are] open
Asansör bozuktur Lift [is] broken
İşçiler üzgün Workers [are] sad

Negative copula[edit]

Negation is indicated by the negative copula değil. Değil is never used as a suffix, but it takes suffixes according to context.

Abbas yolcu değil Abbas [is] not traveller.
Kapılar ve camlar açık değildir Doors and windows [are] not open
Öğretmen değilim I [am] not [a/the] teacher
Mutlu değilmişiz [Apparently] we [were] not happy.

Personal copulas[edit]

A complete sentence is formed by the addition of a suffix to a noun or adjective as an instance of nonverbal person agreement, with the conjugate verb "imek" only implied. These suffixes are, in origin, personal pronouns and indicate grammatical person.[1]

Sentence Explanation Translation
Öğretmen-i-m teacher-copula-[1st person singular] [I am a/the] teacher
Öğretmen-si-n teacher-copula-[2nd person singular] [You (singular) are a/the] teacher
Öğretmen teacher [He/she/it/they is/are a/the] teacher
Öğretmen-i-z teacher-copula-[1st person plural] [We are (the)] teacher[s]
Öğretmen-si-niz teacher-copula-[2nd person plural] [You (plural/formal) are (the)] teacher[s]
Öğretmen-ler teacher-[plural suffix] [They are (the)] teacher[s]

Past copulas[edit]

Alethic past tense is indiacted with "idi", another variation of "imek". It is enclitic and exhibits vowel harmony like "idir".

Sentence Explanation Translation
Öğretmen-di-m teacher-copula-[1st person singular] [I was a/the] teacher [as I know]
Öğretmen-di-n teacher-copula-[2nd person singular] [You (singular) were a/the] teacher [as I know]
Öğretmen-di teacher-copula [He/she/it was a/the] teacher [as I know]
Öğretmen-di-k teacher-copula-[1st person plural] [We were a/the] teacher[s] [as I know]
Öğretmen-di-niz teacher-copula-[2nd person plural] [You (plural/formal) were a/the] teacher[s] [as I know]
Öğretmen-di-ler teacher-copula-[plural suffix] [they were a/the] teacher [as I know]

Inferential past tense is indicated with "imiş". It is enclitic and exhibits vowel harmony like "idir".

Sentence Explanation Translation
Öğretmen-miş-i-m teacher-[inferential past]-copula-[1st person singular] [I was a/the] teacher [as long as I've heard]
Öğretmen-miş-si-n teacher-[inferential past]-copula-[2nd person singular] [You (singular) were a/the] teacher [as long as I've heard]
Öğretmen-miş teacher-[inferential past] [He/she/it was a/the] teacher [as long as I've heard]
Öğretmen-miş-i-z you teacher-[inferential past]--copula-[1st person plural] [We were a/the] teacher[s] [as long as I've heard]
Öğretmen-miş-si-niz teacher-[inferential past]-copula-[2nd person plural] [You (plural/formal) were a/the] teacher[s] [as long as I've heard]
Öğretmen-ler-miş teacher-[plural suffix]-[inferential past] [they were a/the] teacher[s] [as long as I've heard]

Conditional copulas[edit]

Conditional (hypothetical) mood is indiacted with "ise". It is enclitic and exhibits vowel harmony like "idir".

Sentence Explanation Translation
Öğretmen-se-m teacher-copula-[1st person singular] [If I am a/the] teacher
Öğretmen-se-n teacher-copula-[2nd person singular] [If you (singular) are a/the] teacher
Öğretmen-se teacher-copula [If he/she/it/they is/are a/the] teacher
Öğretmen-se-k teacher-copula-[1st person plural] [If we are a/the] teacher[s]
Öğretmen-se-niz teacher-copula-[2nd person plural] [If you (plural/formal) are a/the] teacher[s]
Öğretmen-ler-se teacher-copula-[plural suffix] [If they are a/the] teacher

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b G. L. Lewis, Turkish Grammar, Oxford University Press, 1967; 2nd edition, 2000