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Turkish translations: for cultural diversity in Switzerland

Seated between Europe and the Orient, Turkey has a rich culture that is also reflected in its language. According to current estimations, Turkish is the mother tongue of approximately 75 million people around the world. Around 125,000 people with a Turkish language background live in Switzerland. But how did the Turkish language and culture come to Switzerland? And what are the distinctive features of Turkish translations?

Turkish in Switzerland: the first immigrants

Switzerland has one of the highest proportions in the world of inhabitants born abroad in comparison to its overall population. It is therefore no wonder that a large number of languages are spoken alongside the four official ones. Part of this multilingualism in Switzerland is constituted by Turkish. From a historical perspective, the first Turkish-speaking residents arrived in Switzerland in the 60s as migrants or labourers.

The gloomy economic and political climate in Turkey, combined with rising demand for labour in Switzerland, triggered an economically motivated migration, particularly from 1960 to 1980.

The majority of these immigrants came from Turkey, although there were also small waves of Turkish migration from other post-Ottoman regions like the Balkans, Greece or the island of Cyprus. A disproportionately large number of these Turkish citizens were Kurds and Alevi, some of whom still hold Turkish citizenship today.

Turkish in Switzerland: facts and figures

In contrast to other migrant groups, the number of Turkish immigrants in Switzerland rose steadily: from fewer than 1,000 in the early 1960s to just under 40,000 in 1980 and over 80,000 in 1990. Today, according to statistics, around 80,000 people with a Turkish language background live in Switzerland, and there are around 45,000 naturalised Swiss citizens with a migration background.

The majority of these 125,000 people live in German-speaking Switzerland, specifically in the cities of Zurich and Basel. You are, however, more and more likely to hear Turkish spoken in Lausanne. The community is slightly more male than female, at 54% men and 46% women.

Today, the Turkish community in Switzerland is primarily growing as a result of Turkish-speaking people immigrating to Switzerland to join their spouses.

The emergence and spread of the Turkish language

terrace of hotel in Goreme Cappadocia and hot air balloons rising into sky, concept  of must see travel destination, bucket list trip

Turkish is a language in the Turkic group within the Ural-Altaic language family. Over time, Turkish has been heavily influenced by languages like Arabic, Persian, Latin and French. One little-known fact: the Turkish language has almost 5,000 loanwords from French and over 6,500 from Arabic.

Turkish is an official language in Turkey and North Cyprus. In Kosovo, Macedonia and Romania, Turkish is also a local official language, and also appears as a mother language in Bulgaria, Greece, Uzbekistan and other Central Asian countries like Iran.

Turkish has a variety of different dialects, stretching across the Black Sea, East Anatolia, South Anatolia, Central Anatolia, the Aegean and the Mediterranean region. The foundation for what has become ‘High Turkish’ was the Istanbul dialect.

The morphology of the Turkish language

Linguistic subtleties in Turkish are chiefly expressed through grammar, parlance and paraverbal communication. Turkish is what is known as an agglutinative language (‘agglutinare’ means ‘to stick to’ in Latin). This means that all grammatical forms such as person, tense and case are shown using endings, which are ‘attached to’ the root word. This can result in some pretty long words. German and English, on the other hand, are inflectional languages. The word stem is modified by inflections or neologisms.

For example:

• The house | Turkish: ev

• The houses | Turkish: evler

• My houses | Turkish: evlerim

• In my houses | Turkish: evlerimde

There is no grammatical gender and no definite article in Turkish. 1928 saw the Alphabet Revolution, triggered by the reforms of Atatürk, where the Arabic alphabet that had previously been used was replaced by the ‘new Turkish alphabet’. The modern Turkish alphabet has 29 Latin characters and 4 special characters:

ç (‘tch’)

ğ (‘soft G’, following a vowel)

ı (i without a dot, no English equivalent)

ş (‘sh’)

If we compare Turkish and German, it becomes clear that some letters that exist in German are not used in Turkish: q, w, x and ä.

There are six cases in Turkish. In addition to the nominative, genitive, dative and accusative tenses used in German, Turkish also has the locative (where?) and the ablative (where from?).

Cultural differences and paraverbal features

As is often the case with Mediterranean languages, e.g. Italian, the Turkish language overall is faster, brighter and louder than German. In addition to this, in Turkish culture, particularly in verbal communication, messages at an interpersonal level play a far more important role than in German. Owing to these differences, Turkish translations in Switzerland can be demanding. Qualified language experts are required in order to avoid misinterpretations and to ensure that any culturally affected values come across in the translation.

Important Turkish phrases for beginners

HelloMerhaba
Good morningGünaydın
PleaseLütfen
Thank youTeşekkür ederim
Excuse meÖzür dilerim
My name is…Benim adım …
Cheers!Şerefe!
YesEvet
NoHayır
GoodbyeGörüşürüz

Language experts for Turkish translations

Turkish: a language that brings together millions of people around the world and ensures cultural diversity. The popularity of Turkish translations is rising in Switzerland as well, in order to be able to present content to the extended Turkish-speaking market. High-quality Turkish translations strengthen the bonds between Switzerland and Turkey, particularly in trade, tourism and the economy. For this reason, our translators offer more than specialised language skills: they are also attuned to the sensitivities of Turkish culture and history.

Quality, reliability and innovation

Do you have high standards? Then you have come to the right place. SwissGlobal is an ISO-certified language service provider that can provide the linguistic skills of over 400 professional translators and other language experts. For professional translations into Turkish, we work exclusively with specialised translators whose mother tongue is Turkish. We also offer translations of all types of documents in a wide range of fields and language combinations, to help you access a broader audience. Get in touch with us for your Turkish translations and don’t hesitate to ask for a no-obligation quote! Görüşürüz!