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Review of  Ankara Papers in Turkish and Turkic Linguistics

Reviewer: Emine Yarar
Book Title: Ankara Papers in Turkish and Turkic Linguistics
Book Author: Ufuk Atas Jochen Rehbein Çigdem Sagin Simsek Deniz Zeyrek
Publisher: ISD, Distributor of Scholarly Books
Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis
General Linguistics
Language Acquisition
Subject Language(s): Turkish
Language Family(ies): Turkic
Issue Number: 28.1637

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Reviews Editor: Helen Aristar-Dry


Ankara Papers in Turkish and Turkic Linguistics, which is the conference proceedings of the Sixteenth International Conference on Turkic Languages (ICTL), covers the revised conference papers on the linguistic analyses of both the Turkish language and Turkic languages. Specifically, the volume consists of a total of fifty-seven papers, dealing with linguistic analysis in distinct major linguistic fields. The papers covered in the volume are written either in Turkish or in English. These studies were all presented at the ICTL, which was organized by Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey, and held between 18 and 21 September 2012.

The book consisted of seven main sections: phonetics and phonology; syntax and morphology; first language acquisition and second language acquisition; discourse, semantics and pragmatics; language contact and sociolinguistics; Turkic languages and the category of prospective in Turkic languages. The papers covered in the first five sections were presented at the general sessions of the conference. The last two sections involve the papers presented at two workshops, namely Turkic languages and prospective in Turkic languages, organized under the ICTL.

The first section, namely phonetics and phonology, includes six papers concerned with various topics, including the analysis of an individual vowel, [ï], in Turkish, consonant deletion in Turkish, acoustic properties of consonants in Turkish, and acoustic features of focus in Turkish, information structure of Turkish yes/no questions and phrase stress in Turkish. All papers present new analyses of the topics employing well-established linguistic methods and approaches. In other words, these are comprehensive examples of experimental phonology. Nearly all studies in this section employ an empirical approach to describe the topics at hand.

The section on syntax and morphology is composed of eleven research papers. Although the majority of these studies are theoretical, there are also two experimental studies. One of these experimental studies analyzes the processing of relative clauses in Turkish using a discourse-based approach. The other one examines the island constraints observed in Turkish wh-phrases based on judgement data. Theoretical studies present the analyses of various syntactic and morphological constructions such as diachronic and synchronic transitive reflexives in Turkish, copular structures of Turkish, nominalization morphemes in Turkish, Turkish complex predicates, Turkish free relatives, binding phenomena in Turkish, Turkish possessive-free genitives and combined predicates of Turkish. The second group of syntactic studies employ contemporary approaches, including the minimalist program and nano-syntax.

The next section, namely first and second language acquisition, includes eight studies analyzing the acquisition of certain grammatical structures of Turkish as a first language as well as a second language. Of them six studies focuses on the acquisition of specific structures such as modals and complementation in Turkish as well as on the acquisition of macro structures such as developmental relations in Turkish narration. Two studies deal with the acquisition of Turkish vowels by non-native speaker groups. Of them, the first study analyzes the acquisition of Turkish vowels by Japanese learners. The other one again deals with the acquisition of Turkish vowels by Swahili speakers. All studies in this section use an experimental approach to describe the acquisition process of Turkish either as a first language or as a second language.

The section on discourse, semantics and pragmatics consists of ten papers and covers the analysis of various grammatical structures in different discourse types. The structures analyzed include referring expressions, multi-word units, demonstrative pronouns, focal properties of Turkish locatives and existentials, dictionary- and corpus-based word definitions and restitution in Turkish. The section also features a study concerning the rhetorical structure of research article abstracts written in Turkish. Another study deals with translation errors of Turkish ELT students in the context of an undergraduate English-Turkish translation course. All papers covered in this section are based on experimental designs and corpus data, and therefore, present the experimental findings about the grammatical structures examined. In addition to using conventional analysis techniques there are also studies which employ new techniques used to describe the grammatical structures of Turkish, including line graphs and ngrams.

The fifth section, namely language contact and sociolinguistics, involves a total of seven papers and focuses on code switching and Turkish dialects spoken outside Turkey to describe sociopolitical and linguistic development of Turkish. The papers covered also present the analysis of specific grammatical constructions produced by monolingual and bilingual speakers of Turkish. The constructions examined are embedded clauses, word order, wh-questions, lexical borrowings and converbs. Another study deals with verbal criticisms observed in daily spoken interactions. The studies in this section employ real-life data and also present the experimental findings about the topics to reveal the features of Turkish language used in Turkey and in other geographical areas.

The next section is about the linguistic analysis of Turkic languages. There are ten papers in the section, all of which were part of a workshop named Turkic languages. The languages and language varieties analyzed include the Urum of Cyprus, Old Turkic, the Oghuz language, Sakha (Yakut), the Mishar dialect of Kazan Tatar, and Tyvan (Tuvan). These studies are mostly concerned with the analysis of grammatical structures such as valency in derivational nominalizations, palatalization, causative-marked passive constructions, the suffixes of the conditional and terminative moods and derivation from plural stems. Some of these studies use the data gathered from native speakers of the languages or varieties given above. In addition, one of these studies deals with the introduction of the Urum language spoken in Cyprus. Not focusing on a specific grammatical structure this study presents a brief description of the language in terms of its lexicon, phonology, morphology and syntax. It also presents the effects of language contact on Urum. In the same section there are also several contrastive analyses between Turkish and other related languages, including Southern Azerbaijani, Northern Azerbaijani and Khalaj. These contrastive studies describe specific grammatical structures, including copied passives and causative versus anti-causative alternations, between the languages given above. In addition, there is also one study analyzing Turkic languages as a whole in terms of genealogical and typological grouping and mutual intelligibility among these languages.

The final section, namely prospective in Turkic languages, includes the papers presented at the workshop with the same name at the International Conference on Turkish Linguistics. There are five studies dealing with the category of prospective (future tense category referring to immediate future, near future and close future) in Modern Uyghur, Turkish, Gagauz, Modern Kazakh, Dzungar Tuvan. The general conclusion of the papers on prospective structures is that each Turkic language has its own means for the category of prospective and that each Turkish has striking distinctions concerning the development of this category in contrast to Old Turkic. In addition, it is concluded that there is no uniformity among Turkic languages in terms of the grammatical devices used for the category of prospective.


This volume and its parent conference are both significant contributions to linguists interested in Turkish and Turkic languages. The conference papers in the volume are well categorized based on study topics. Therefore, the volume provides an invaluable opportunity to be informed about the latest research on Turkish and Turkic languages. Each section is composed of very comprehensive and detailed research about different linguistic structures of Turkish. In addition, the book presents interesting and informative description and analysis of various Turkic languages, and provides the findings of empirical and theoretical studies on the Turkish language. The studies involved are mostly based on corpus data or natural data gathered from native speakers of Turkish and Turkic languages. All the data collected were analyzed using a well-defined statistical analysis technique, and are transcribed, making it possible to have full understanding of the grammatical structures analyzed.

It should also be noted that those who would like to have detailed information about Turkic languages will find the papers covered in the last two sections very useful. These two sections offer a detailed description of different Turkic languages based on natural data collected from native speakers. Therefore, these papers are a very valuable collection of studies on Turkic languages. The sixth section also includes a brief introduction to Urum, which has been less analysed in contrast to other Turkic languages. The last section offer a comprehensive analysis and description of Turkic languages in terms of a single grammatical structure, namely prospective means. It allows for reader to have a comprehensive understanding of the linguistic structures used to express the category of prospective in the languages examined.

The papers were first reviewed for inclusion at the ICTL. The authors redesigned their papers based on the feedback given following their oral presentation. The final versions of the papers were also reviewed. Given that all papers covered in the volume were subject to the double blind peer-review, the quality of the volume is at a desired level. In addition, the majority of the papers are written in English, making it possible for international readers to read the studies. Thus, the volume achieves its goal in offering quality research papers on Turkish and Turkic languages and in informing scholars concerning the latest research findings about the languages analysed. As a final word, the volume successfully both indicates the current state of the linguistic studies on Turkish and Turkic languages, and offers ideas and potential topics for future research on Turkish and Turkic languages.
Emine Yarar is the faculty member at English Linguistics Department of Hacettepe University. She completed her PhD studies at the same department in 2002. Her research interests include Turkish syntax and morphology, sentence processing and modality.

Format: Hardback
ISBN-13: 9783447105231
Pages: 676
Prices: U.S. $ 200