Synergy II: Linguistics

Contemporary Studies on Turkish Linguistics

by Ayşe Selmin Söylemez (Volume editor) Alper Kumcu (Volume editor)
Edited Collection 268 Pages


Synergy II: Linguistics intends to present recent studies on Turkish linguistics. The aim is to introduce theoretical and applied linguistic approaches focusing on Turkish language. The structure of the book is thematically designed based on the micro and macro linguistics. The themes presented are phonology, morphology, morphosyntax, morphophonology, bilingualism, cognitive stylistics, register analysis of various Turkish text genres, identity, and language teaching. You will come across studies that catch your attention as you are leafing through the pages of the book.

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Introduction
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Contributors
  • The Dynamism of Turkish Morphophonology (Aysun Kunduracı)
  • Phonetic Representation of Epenthetic Glides in Turkish (İpek Pınar Uzun)
  • On the Typology of the Null Subject Parameter: A Proposal on Turkish (Oktay Çınar)
  • Syntactic Priming Effects on Turkish – English Bilinguals’ Production of Passive Structures (Sena Arman Ergin and Taylan Akal)
  • Stage-level/Individual-level Predicates and –DIr in Turkish (Murat Özgen)
  • Meaning Construction from a Cognitive Stylistics Perspective (Zeynep Doyuran)
  • A Brief Historical Journey from Contrastive Rhetoric to Intercultural Rhetoric—A Promising Interdisciplinary Field of Research (Hacer Hande Uysal)
  • The Effect of Study-Abroad on Developing Students’ Intercultural Awareness and Their “Intercultural Identity” (Müge Gündüz)
  • To Be or Not to Be Bilingual: Ideologies on Bilingualism and Perceptions of Adult Migrants (F. Büşra Süverdem)
  • Activating and Applying Schema Theory to Vocabulary Teaching in Foreign Language Learning (Hakan Dilman)
  • Review of Reviews: On the Studies Focusing on the Methodology of the Variation Studies in Turkey (Emre Yağlı)

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List of Contributors

Oktay Çınar
Department of Linguistics, İstanbul Medeniyet University

Hakan Dilman
Department of Foreign Languages Teaching, Maltepe University

Zeynep Doyuran
Department of English Linguistics, Hacettepe University

Müge Gündüz
Department of Foreign Language Education, Middle East Technical University

Aysun Kunduracı
Department of Foreign Language Education, Yeditepe University

Murat Özgen
Department of Linguistics, Dokuz Eylül University

Sena Arman Ergin
Department of Foreign Languages, University of Turkish Aeronautical Association

F. Büşra Süverdem
Department of Translation and Interpreting, Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli University

Taylan Akal
Department of English Linguistics, Hacettepe University

Hacer Hande Uysal
Department of Foreign Language Education, Hacettepe University

İpek Pınar Uzun
Department of Linguistics, Ankara University

Emre Yağlı
Department of English Linguistics, Hacettepe University

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Aysun Kunduracı

Department of Foreign Language Education, Yeditepe University
ORCID: 0000-0001-5250-7899

The Dynamism of Turkish Morphophonology

Abstract This study concerns itself with morphophonology, namely, the interaction of morphology and phonology, and the dynamic aspect of morphophonological processes in Turkish. The study aims to show that morphophonological alternants cannot be attributed to mere phonology or mere morphology but to the operations following from the interplays of the two components. Focusing on the outputs of the external vowel harmony, consonant harmony, deletion, insertion, vowel-lengthening, gemination, word-final voicing, and the case with the cliticized auxiliary in Turkish, the study argues that morphophonology is not an autonomous module unlike morphology and phonology, and that it is manipulated by the morphology of the multimodular grammar. The study also highlights the importance of (i) native stems vs. foreign stems, and (ii) taking account of diachronic developments in the course of the formal analyses of morphophonological processes.

Keywords: morphology, phonology, morphophonology, process, morphophonological alternants

Morphology, Phonology, and the Interaction

This study investigates morphophonological alternants, namely, the output forms of the interacting processes between morphology and phonology and suggests that such alternants cannot be explained by pure morphology or pure phonology, but morphophonology. In the current study, morphophonology is not a separate submodule of the grammar, but comprises interactive processes of an autonomous phonology and an autonomous morphology in line with Pounder (2000), Sadock (2012), and Kunduracı (2013). The study evaluates (i) the view that morphophonology falls within morphology (e.g., Bochner, 1993), (ii) the view that it falls within phonology (e.g., Kiparsky, 1996), (iii) the option that it is another, intersecting submodule between morphology and phonology, but concludes that morphophonological formations must be the outputs of the interactions between phonology and morphology. With a variety of cases in Turkish, the study claims that whereas morphophonology is an interactive ←13 | 14→phenomenon relevant to both morphology and phonology, it is controlled by morphology.1

Morphophonological Alternations

This section is dedicated to a distinction between morphological alternations and phonological alternations: The formal outputs of autonomously morphological processes must be distinguished from the formal outputs of purely phonological processes, for which Turkish provides certain data (see below). Haspelmath and Sims (2010) also draw a line between morphologically conditioned alternations and phonologically conditioned (automatic) alternations based on a number of characteristics such as phonological vs. lexical conditioning, application to loan words, yielding new segments in the language, formal complexity, phonetic coherence and distance, application across word boundaries, and obligation (p. 214–217). The first three of these are considered in terms of the Turkish data, in this section.

When we consider the expression of causative verb forms in Turkish, for example, which involves the suffixation of -DIr, -Ir, -(I)t, and -Ar(t), we see that whereas some alternants can be explained based on simply phonological environment, others are not so, and that a reference to lexical conditioning is also needed for these. Phonological conditioning can explain why multisyllabic verb stems ending in a consonant, such as l ‘smile’ > gül-dür ‘make smile/laugh’, are always suffixed the -DIr form, and multisyllabic verb stems ending in a vowel or a liquid, such as uyu ‘sleep’ > uyu-t ‘make sleep’, karar ‘get/be dark/black’ > karar-t ‘make dark/black’, are always suffixed the -t form. In other cases, which involve monosyllabic stems, however, phonological conditioning itself does not suffice to account for the relevant marker of the causative in Turkish. For instance, the causative form of the verb stem ak- ‘run (water)’ is ak-ıt, whereas the causative form of another monosyllabic stem, tak- ‘wear/affix’ is tak-tır.2 Clearly, morphophonological alternants cannot be limited to and explained by merely phonology.

Another example is word-final voicing (of /p, t, k, ʧ/) in some noun stems in the environment of vowel-initial suffixations in Turkish (see also § 3.4). For ←14 | 15→instance, the noun stem havuç /havuʧ/ ‘carrot’ involves a voiceless consonant which does not undergo any processes in the word-final position and in the environment of consonant-initial suffixations, but which undergoes voicing, ʧ > ʤ, in the environment of vowel-initial suffixations as seen in havuc-um (carrot-1.poss)3 /havuʤum/ ‘my carrot’. This process can be explained by phonological environment, i.e., the vowel trigger in the suffix, of course. However, the same [-voiced] segment, /ʧ/, does not undergo any voicing within similar environments (vowel-initial suffixations) when the stem that it occurs in is not a nominal unit, but verbal. For example, the final consonant in the verb stem kaç- /kɑʧ/ ‘escape’ does not change to /ʤ/ in the inflected and derived forms which include vowel-initial suffixations, as seen in kaç-ar-ım (escape-aor-1.sg) /kɑʧɑrɨm/ ‘I (will) escape’, kaç-acak (escape-fut) /kɑʧɑʤɑk/ ‘(S)he/it will escape’, and kaç-ak /kɑʧɑk/ ‘escaper’. The fact that voicing applies only with nominal stems and excludes non-nominals, which means morphological sensitivity to stem category, is another clear case which shows that only phonological conditioning cannot suffice for morphophonological outputs.

Another criterion to consider is the application of the processes to loan words. Haspelmath and Sims (2010) show that automatic (phonological) alternations apply both in native and loan words, whereas morphologically conditioned ones do not apply in loan words, which creates another contrast between phonological and morphological alternants. They exemplify such cases from German, where the word-final /d/ undergoes devoicing and becomes /t/ in both native and non-native expressions (p. 216). Turning to Turkish, which also displays distinctions between morphological and phonological conditioning, as shown above, it is realised that the loan word criterion indeed does not work in Turkish: Both phonological and morphological processes apply to loan stems in Turkish. For instance, the loan word kraliçe /kɨɾaliʧe/ ‘queen’ is pronounced with an epenthetic /ɨ/ in the first syllable as Turkish does not allow consonant clusters word-initially. This process, which applies to a loan stem, is clearly phonological. Nonetheless, a native morphological process may also apply to loan stems in Turkish as seen in the expression pas-la-mak (pass-vrb-ınft) ‘to hand ←15 | 16→sth off’, which involves a foreign root, pas ‘pass’ with the native -lA suffixation applying on it. This case, among others, exemplifies that not only purely phonological but also autonomously morphological processes may apply to both native and foreign stems in Turkish, unlike other languages which show contrasts between native and foreign stems morphologically and phonologically.4

Finally, let us consider the possibility of deriving new segments in a language at the end of formal processes. Haspelmath and Sims (2010) discuss that new segments may be created at the end of phonological but not morphological processes usually (p. 216), which is used as one of the tools to discriminate automatic and morphological alternations. As an example, they refer to the [ɾ] in American English, which is limited to flapping, i.e., when /t/ and /d/ are positioned between vowels, e.g., butterfly [bʌɾə(r)flaɪ]. Turning to Turkish, it is observed that similar to the above case regarding loan stems, derivation of new segments may also be involved in both phonological and morphological processes. For instance, the expression oku-yacağ-ım (read-fut-1.sg) ‘I am going to read’ can be pronounced as [okʰujɑʤɑɨm], [okʰujɑʤɑm] or [okʰi:ʤɑm] due to the allomorphic variations of the future marker -(y)AcAk. The last pronunciation, [okʰi:ʤɑm], which does not involve either the palatal /j/ or the preceding and following vowels /u/ and /ɑ/, but involves /i:/ rather, which is a long vowel, is important for the purposes of the current section: Native roots in Modern Turkish do not involve long vowels apart from the velar glide /ɣ/ (so-called “soft g”) effect.5 However, forms including the future suffix such as oku-yacağ-ım ←16 | 17→[okʰi:ʤɑm] allow a long vowel, /i:/, in many speakers, including myself, despite the absence of /ɣ/, the trigger for vowel lengthening. Then, not only phonological but also autonomously morphological processes may result in new segments in a language.

Given the criteria thus far in this section, Turkish discriminates morphological and phonological processes, and morphophonological alternants cannot be limited to pure phonology or phonological conditioning. However, it is also observed that some criteria which can be used to distinguish phonological alternants from morphological ones do not work in Turkish: Both morphological and phonological processes can apply to loan bases and may derive new segments, i.e., long vowels in Turkish. Nevertheless, this must not lead one to disregard the distinction: Even though both types of processes may be flexible in terms of the origin of the input, i.e., native vs. foreign, the processes are not identical.

The Interesting Activities in Turkish Morphophonology

Morphophonology in External Harmony

According to the current study, external harmony,6 i.e., the phonological agreement in terms of the backness and labial properties of the vowel of the final syllable of a stem and the first segment with vowel features in the affixation, is an important indicator of the close interaction between phonology and morphology: Based on phonological restrictions, Turkish displays so many allomorphic variations. First, let us remember that Turkish external harmony is based on the stem (cf. van der Hulst & van de Weijer, 1991), namely, the vowel properties of the first syllable in the suffix are arranged based on the vowel of the final syllable in the stem. The word ses ‘sound’ is controlled by both backness and labial harmonies for its accusative form, for example, and is inflected as ses-i /sesi/, whereas the accusative form of another word, süs ‘ornament’ is süs-ü /sysy/. The effectiveness of external harmony can be observed even better in word forms whose roots are not harmonic. That is, even when the stem of a morphological process is not natively Turkish and not harmonic, or when it has native origin but still nonharmonic due to diachronic changes, for example, the ←17 | 18→first vocalic segment in the suffixation shows harmony. The non-native word horoz ‘cock’, for instance, obeys the backness harmony in Turkish (by chance); however, as it involves a rounded, low vowel in the second syllable, /o/, it does not obey the labial harmony. Briefly, horoz ‘cock’ is not a harmonic root, there is no internal harmony. When this form serves as a base for a morphological operation, however, external harmony gets involved in the process, the accusative -I suffixation, for instance, as seen in ho.ro.z-u. Here, the allomorph u is harmonic externally, in terms of both the labial and the backness harmonies. As another example, consider the word kardeş ‘sibling’, which is native but not harmonic for the backness harmony, i.e., /ɑ/ vs. /e/, due to diachronic changes. This form too will show external harmony when it undergoes morphological processes as seen in kar.deş-im ‘my sister’, kar.deş-lik ‘sisterhood’, kar.deş-ler ‘sisters’ etc. Shortly, external harmony, which is a morphophonological condition, operates constantly regardless of the internal harmony.

Another case with external but without internal harmony involves compounds in Turkish: There is no necessary internal harmony between the two stems of a Noun-Noun compound, for example, as can be seen in (the idiomatic compound) kardeş pay-ı (sister lot-cm) ‘equal shares’. The first stem here is not harmonic for the backness harmony, there is also no harmony between the last vowel of the first stem, kardeş, and the first of the second, pay. When the compound enters in a morphological process, however, the external harmony also comes into play as can be observed in kardeş pay-ı-yla (sister lot-cm-ınst) ‘with equal shares’. /ɑ/ here is harmonic with the preceding /ɨ/ in terms of both backness and labial features. Again, we see that external harmony is always at work ignoring the absence of an internal harmony.

Let us have a closer look at the external labial harmony in Turkish now: In this harmony, the [+ round] feature depends upon the [+ high] feature of the vowel in the suffix, if there is no [+ high], then there is no [+ round]. In other words, the allomorph of a suffix can include [+ round] only if the vowel of the relevant suffix includes [+ high]: Height is a condition on roundness in external harmony. Even in expressions which include [+ round] in the stem, such as yağmur ‘rain’, an allomorph with a [+ round] cannot occur unless the [+ high] exists in the suffix. Similarly, a suffix with [+ high] will always include allomorphs with [+ round] (for the immediately preceding syllable with [+ round]), e.g., yağmur-dan ‘from (the) rain’ vs. *yağmur-dön for the ablative inflection, and yağmur-u ‘the rain’ vs. *yağmur-ı for the accusative inflection.

In backness harmony, the internal [+/- back] feature is also effective in the external [+/- back] regardless of any other feature; in the external labial harmony, however, first the [+/- high] feature in the suffix is controlled, and ←18 | 19→accordingly, one can refer to two types of suffix in Turkish: (i) those with a [+ high] vowel and thus which can have allomorphs with [+ round] such as -(y)I, -(n)In, -(s)I(n), -lI, -CI, -sIz, -lIK, -(y), -DIK, and (ii) those without a [+ high] vowel and thus which do not have allomorphs with [+ round] such as lAr, -DA, -DAn, -CA, -mA (cf. Lewis, 2000; Göksel & Kerslake, 2005). That is, a suffix like -lI, for instance, which includes [+ high], has allomorphs with and without [+ round], [lɨ], li [lʲi], lu [lu], [lʲy], whereas a suffix like -lA, which does not include [+ high], does not have allomorphs with [+ round]: la [lɑ] and le [lʲe].

Despite the strictness of the external harmony, there are a number of suffixations, such as -gil, -ki, and -(I)yor, which do not obey it (cf. Yavaş, 1980; Clements & Sezer, 1982; van der Hulst & van de Weijer, 1991). Despite the fact that these suffixations are also natively Turkish and that external harmony is dynamic invariably in Turkish, the vowels in these suffixes do not agree with the vowels in the preceding syllables of the stems. This problem could be explained by either the complexity of the suffix or the possible diachronic events it passed through. For instance, -(I)yor among the nonharmonics above, is expressed to be bimorphomic (cf. Erdal, 2004), in the form of -I + yor, which could be the reason for the first item -I to obey and for the second item -yor to not obey the harmony: Consider gel-iyor (come-prg) ‘(s)he/it is coming’ as opposed to gül-ü-yor (smile-prg) ‘(s)he/it is smiling’. The suffixes -ki, as seen in sen-in-ki (you-gen-adj) ‘yours’ and çocuğ-un-ki (child-gen-adj) ‘the one belonging to the child’, and -gil, as seen in abla-m-gil (sister-1.poss-com) ‘my sister and those with her’, are also native Turkish and are not formally complex suffixes. However, they do not display harmonic allomorphs such as [kɨ], ku [ku], gıl [gɨl], gul [gul], and gül [gʲyl].7 Then, the opaqueness of such exceptional suffixes to harmony cannot be assigned to morphological complexity only; the diachronic developments must also be investigated and taken into account, which is beyond the scope of this study.8←19 | 20→

Morphophonology and Consonant Harmony

The dynamism of morphophonology in Turkish can also be observed in the consonant harmony. Plosives and affricates which occur in the first position of suffixes assimilate to the final segment of a stem in terms of voicing, which results in the following alternations: /tʃ/ and /ʤ/, /k/ and /g/, /t/ and /d/ as seen in fizik-çi ‘physics expert’ and Türkçe-ci ‘Turkish expert’, at-kı ‘scarf’ and ör-gü ‘braid, knitting’, and saç-tı ‘(s)he/it scattered’ and sar-dı ‘(s)he/it wrapped/hugged’. According to Taylan (2015), for instance, two alternative processes can be referred to in such cases: We can either consider voicing such as /k/ → /g/ as seen in ör-gü, or devoicing such as /g/ → /k/ as seen in at-kı, for instance.

Biographical notes

Ayşe Selmin Söylemez (Volume editor) Alper Kumcu (Volume editor)

Ayşe Selmin Söylemez is working at the Translation and Interpreting Department, Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli University. She holds her PhD from Gazi University, ELT Department. Her research areas and interests are teaching English to young learners, materials development and evaluation, gender studies, and discourse analysis. Alper Kumcu is a researcher at Hacettepe University. He undertook a PhD from the School of Psychology at the University of Birmingham, examining the role of space in verbal memory. His research areas are memory for language and embodied cognition within psycholinguistics and data-driven cognitive translation studies. He received Science Incentive Award from Hacettepe University.


Title: Synergy II: Linguistics