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AUTHORS: Ralph Jaeckel and Gülnur Doğanata Erciyeş TITLE: A Dictionary of Turkish Verbs SUBTITLE: In Context and By Theme PUBLISHER: Georgetown University Press YEAR: 2006
Deniz Zeyrek, Department of Foreign Language Education, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey
This volume contains approximately 1000 Turkish verbs and has the stated aim of serving as a reference tool for nonnative learners of Turkish at all proficiency levels. The criterion used in the selection of the verbs is stated as the ''communicative'' or ''functional-notional'' approach broadly conceived; which means that the verbs were chosen by determining which situations the learners are likely to participate in, and what communicative functions, concepts and ideas of the language they would like to express in those situations.
The volume begins with an introduction which provides a general description of the aim, target audience, scope, and the criteria for the selection of the content. It describes how the book should be used and explains the organization and contents of the major parts of the book. The introduction continues with a section on how the dictionary was compiled from the core verbs from various sources, a short section inviting detailed suggestions for corrections and improvements, and a bibliography of the sources consulted. It ends with a synopsis of abbreviations and symbols.
After the introduction, the volume is composed of five major parts: 1) A Turkish-English dictionary of verbs, 2) An English-Turkish index, 3) Turkish verbs by theme (A Thesaurus which uses Roget's categories), 4) Proverbs, and 5) Turkish verb-forming suffixes. Part 1 provides detailed explanations of how the entries are presented and illustrated, and how they are cross-referenced to synonyms, antonyms and other related words. The stated aim of Part 2, the English-Turkish index, is to serve as a guide to Part 1. Part 3 introduces the Thesaurus, with the stated aim of providing insights on the Turkish language and access to the resources for expression in Turkish. Part 4 emphasizes the role of proverbs in the Turkish culture, explaining how the entries (approximately 250) are listed in the dictionary. Part 5 briefly describes how verb-forming suffixes are presented.
There are several strengths of this volume: Firstly, all entries contain example sentences and/or natural conversational sequences reflecting the use of the Turkish language in meaningful and cultural contexts. A related point is that some entries contain warnings against potential mistranslations of Turkish phrases or sentences. The authors rely on their teaching experience in determining such cases and provide both the unacceptable and acceptable translation. In this way they refer the user to the correct meaning. The Thesaurus is another important addition to the volume which affords the learners a further point of access to a verb's meaning. The inclusion of conversation samples, mistranslations and the Thesaurus reflects a concerted effort to give the learners a chance to synthesize the actual, colloquial use of Turkish in social interactions and is compatible with the recent trends in second language teaching.
The next point concerns the attention paid to grammar. The Turkish verb is a morphological complex in which a wide range of grammatical and modal relations are encoded. Acknowledging this characteristic of the Turkish verb, the authors include a major part on verb-forming suffixes and in other parts of the dictionary where appropriate, they point to these suffixes by separating them from the base. For example, in Part 1, under the entry eğil- 'bend,' we find that the verb is derived from the base form eğ- 'bow, bend, tip' with the reflexive suffix as the following analysis shows: eğil- eğ + refl. suf. -Il . In addition to showing the morphological organization of the verb, information about the case required by the verb is provided. Although no attempt is made to describe whether the case marker is required for an argument or adjunct of the verb, this addition nevertheless makes a positive contribution to the dictionary. (The accusative constitutes an exception because the authors state that they show it only when students might have difficulty with its use). For example, the fact that the verb bahset- 'mention' requires the ablative suffix –DAn and that this suffix corresponds to English 'about' is shown as follows: bahset-/DAn/ 'talk /ABOUT/'. Finally, to the extent possible and where it is deemed necessary, grammatical explanations are provided. These explanations are often short but accurate and do not contain technical vocabulary. They are therefore largely accessible to the learner.
Despite these strengths, there are some points of criticisms that may be mentioned. First of all, while grammatical notes are a welcome addition, their layout appears to be a weakness. These notes would have been much more accessible if they could be shown in a conspicuous format rather than marked with a raised dot mark. They could also be listed in the contents page with their respective page numbers. Although the purpose of the volume is not to provide a comprehensive grammar, the explanation of certain important verbal suffixes might be improved. For example, the subject relativizer –An could be treated separately in addition to the explanations about its use with the auxiliary verb ol-. Similarly, the suffix –DIk deserves a separate treatment in this book due to its role in forming object relative clauses and noun clauses.
My second remark relates to notation. Most of the symbols used in the dictionary are standard in linguistics, e.g., slashes, square brackets, curly brackets, asterisks, arrows, etc. However, the use of most of these symbols in the dictionary is incompatible with their use in linguistics. Although the book is not intended to be used by linguists per se, employing the symbols in their standard linguistic function would be descriptively satisfying and thus enhance the dictionary's effectiveness. For example, morpheme separation can easily be shown by dashes instead of periods or the plus sign, ungrammaticality by an asterisk, semantic or pragmatic ill-formedness by the pound sign, etc. Thirdly, the use of a typeface or symbol to show more than one function appears somewhat problematic.
Two such usages are notable. One is the use of uppercase boldface letters to show a) how case suffixes vary with rules of vowel and consonant harmony (as is the standard procedure in Turkish linguistics), and b) to mark potential usage problems in Turkish examples. The former use will be welcomed by linguists and users already familiar with Turkish grammars. However, using uppercase boldface also for the purpose of highlighting potential usage problems, which may range from a suffix to a full word, might confuse and mislead at least some users. It would be more productive to show potential usage problems with a different typeface. The second problem is the circumflex used to indicate a) the palatalization of a g, k, or l preceding the vowel a as in kâbus 'nightmare' (as is standardly used in Turkish orthography), and b) to denote a pronunciation not reflected in the orthography, namely the lengthening of the first vowel as in ağabey 'older brother.' To tease apart these different phenomena, the circumflex may be reserved for the orthographical form, the standard linguistic symbols for palatalization and vowel lengthening may be employed to denote respective pronunciations.
Another problem is the inconsistent separation of suffixes from the base form. For example, under the entry söyle- 'say, tell,' the –DIk suffix is separated (with a period) as in the example 'Ne soyle.diğ.i.ni ban.A söyle' ('Tell me what he said'). On the other hand, under the entry katıl- 'be added to, be mixed with, by' the –DIk suffix is not separated: 'Kavga.yA katılma, bilmediğin iş.E atılma' ('Don't get involved in a fight and don't venture into a matter you don't understand). It is not totally clear to me why the same suffix is separated from the base in one instance and not in the other.
Summing up, I think that the volume under review will be a valuable source of information for learners and teachers of Turkish as a second language and for all those interested in the Turkish language. When used in combination with other resources, as it is intended to be, it will help users to understand the structural and cultural aspects of the Turkish language better.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Deniz Zeyrek is Professor at the Department of Foreign Language Education at Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey. Her research interests include Turkish morphology, Turkish discourse, acquisition of Turkish as a second language, acquisition of English by Turkish learners, and intercultural pragmatics. She teaches courses on Turkish phonology and morphology, applied linguistics, and language acquisition.