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Some Basic Points I

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A basic feature of the Turkish language, namely addition of ı,i,u,ü at the end of some nouns or pronouns sounds challenging for learners at first. Although the idea behind is simple,the use of some consonants, namely y, n and s together with them, and again the use of two of these consonants with another endings like e/a make a complex picture which is otherwise a combination of seperate and simple ideas. In particular, when the necessity arises to define the direct and indirect objects as a prerequest for learning this 'agglutinating' language, the picture becomes a puzzle.

As every body who has a more or less interest in Turkish knows, in Turkish (like other Altaic languages) the meanings and functions of words can be changed by adding suffixes to them. They can function like prepositions, verbs can be conjugated with them, words can be derived..But there is one special suffix that although the concept it represents exists in English, one of its functions is not represented by an English word. It is always there, but we dont pay attention to it: Direct objects. One of the two functions of this suffix is to indicate the direct objects.

When we say 'please explain this to me', we dont think about what is direct or indirect here. But we never say 'please explain me this'. So the function of this humble letter, ı, i, u, or ü, is so vital. If we omit this, however, the meaning will not be lost, just like you understand when I say 'explain me this'.

I remember an old song of Shocking Blue; 'send me a postcard darling..' Here, the postcard is the direct object, and 'me' is the indirect object. Postcard is directly affected by the action in question and 'me' is indirectly. -Or at least the grammarians say so, I am the one who will be diretly affected by the action of 'my darling' but who cares? Posted Image - If my darling takes me somewhere, then by being taken, I will be the direct object.

When we say 'send it, take it, read this, see that, we use direct objects. When we say take it to the office, an indirect object is added: office.

Let's take the Turkish side of the story:

Send this letter to the manager : Bu mektubu müdüre gönder. Mektup is letter. Mektub+u makes some certain letter the direct object (not mektupu, this is a phonetical issue). Müdür is the manager and the indirect object. Müdür+e makes it to the manager.

Obviously, while talking or writing we never stop thinking about what is directly related or not by the action. This is an inherent part of learning the mother tongue.

What I wrote up to this point may sound simple and one can wonder why it is so problematic. But this suffix is not only an unexpected visitor for someone who never pays attention to the objects while speaking. When it comes to make more organized sentences in Turkish, with clauses used as the object of the verb, the suffixes added to nouns then will be added to the end of the clause: 'I didn't know that he came: Geldiğini bilmiyordum'. Geldiğini is made of three parts: Geldiği+n+i. Actually if the suffixes are concerned it has more than three parts, but for the sake of simplification let's examine the three parts.Here the consonant 'n' is part of another subject yet to be examined. 'i' is our usual suffix which makes the clause 'he came' the direct object of the verb to know.So, if we fail to notice the existence of this 'i', we cannot make or understand many sentences. There is no such sentence as 'geldi bilmiyordum' in Turkish. This is a short semantic unit, and , as such it can still make sense. Further, it can be divided into two sentences: Geldi. Bilmiyordum. 'Geldi' is a complete sentence with a subject and the complement: He came. Bilmiyordum can still be considered as a complete sentence, though its object is only implied: I didn't know ... But if what we didn't know is the fact that he came, we can combine them only with an ı,i,u or ü. If the object of this sentence were a long clause, or part of a complex sentence, the importance of this letter can be felt better.

This suffix, which I will use 'I' to denote, instead of ı,i,u, or ü, to mean that 'I' can take any of the four forms depending on vowel harmony rules, has another function as I wrote above. Yes, 'I' tells us that the object is a direct object, but only when it is definite, or can be considered as definite. As such, it is not different than the English nouns used with 'the':

Send me a postcard : Bana bir kart gönder. But, I lost THE postcard you sent: Gönderdiğin kart+ı kaybettim.

Yes I finaly lost the card which caused so much confusion..And it is not any postcard now, it is the lost one.

In summary we have the two necessary conditions to add 'I' to the postcard.

Give me a tomato: Bana bir domates ver- a tomato, any tomato.

Give me THE red tomato: Bana kırmızı domates+i ver.

Before going into further details,I want to answer to a question which possibly comes to minds: 'What shall we add to the word, if it is something definite like a 'the-word' of English, yet the object is not a direct object? The answer is 'nothing' special for Turkish, but any other suffix necessary to give the meaning 'to, at, on' etc. , like e/a, for example. Because, like in English, an indirect object needs a sign that shows us what is 'directed' to what/where: Throw it into the sea: Onu (o+n+u) denize (deniz+e) fırlat. Being thrown, 'o' is the direct object, and the sea is the target..

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