Three Notes on Translation from Modern Uygur to Turkish

Nurettin Demir (Hacettepe University)

For centuries the Turkic speaking world has been using Ottoman and Chaghatay, which were written with the same alphabet, as the two dominant written languages. The first half of the 20th century saw the rise of the new literary languages. Literary and cultural contacts between these new written Turkic languages and studies on the Turkic languages have remained rather limited. Studies in Turkey on Turkic languages have focused on the grammatical differences from Turkish, especially in phonology and morphology. Often the explanations of the differences in texts based upon features shared with Turkish have been inadequate. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, interest in the modern Turkic languages has surged. Therefore, grammars of several Turkic languages and results of field work studies among Turkic speaking people have been published.

Grammars which were published in the last decades of 20th century focused on the phonology and morphology of related Turkic languages. Because of the formal similarity of the forms in Turkish and the related Turkic languages, there are controversial descriptions. Therefore, descriptions remain incapable for the translation of a natural text. Attempts to translate some pages clearly show that the differences between the Turkic languages are greater than assumed, and the existing descriptions in grammars are not sufficient. This actually has a comprehensible reason: In the course of time the Turkic languages have developed differently and show typological variances, which are often overlooked.

In this contribution my aim is to shortly discuss three issues which arise during translation from New Uyghur into Turkish:

  1. Interrogative sentences
    2. The evidential category
    3. Relative clauses with -GAN.

I would like to demonstrate the problems arising during translation from New Uyghur into Turkish and try to explain their background, which lies in the typological differences between the two languages.