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Turkish English Translation
How to Translate Turkish -- Part 5

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Deciphering long
Turkish Language sentences


Step-by-Step:
Turkish Translation Methods

A little Ottoman history background is in order before we turn you loose on the long Turkish sentence -- which follows a little further below...
When Selim The Grim died in 1520, his son Süleyman ascended to the Ottoman throne -- meekly accepting his father's Grand Vizier, Piri Paşa as his own. But three short years later, Piri was forced into retirement when the then-more-confident Süleyman appointed his boyhood 'slave-mate' Ibrahim (who, according to Ali Kemal Meram, was also his adolescent lover) to the post -- making him the second most powerful man in the Empire, behind only Süleyman himself. This radical posting of an inexperienced, albeit talented, 'slave' of Christian origin raised a lot of eyebrows at the time. To smooth Ibrahim's transition from backroom 'pal-pal' to Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire, Süleyman called upon his faithful aide Celal-zade Mustafa Bey -- who had held an important secretarial post in the 'divan' (the Ottoman State's ruling body) during the tenure of the previous Grand Vizier, Piri Paşa...

Now.
Let's go slam dunk the following (too) long Turkish sentence...

'borrowed' from Büyük Osmanlı Tarihi by Ismail Hakkı Uzunçarşılı...

O tarihe kadar olan kanun ve teamüle aykırı olarak vezir-i azam tayin edilen İbrahim, devlet işlerinde tabii acemi olduğu için kendisine divan usul ve kaidelerini öğretecek birisi lazım olduğundan Piri Paşa zamanında tezkirecilik eden, fazl u kemali ve kaleminin kudreti ve divan işlerine vukufu cihetiyle gerek Yavuz Sultan Selim ve gerek Kanuni Sultan Süleyman tarafından sevilen Celal-zade Mustafa Bey bu işe memur edilmistir.


Translating long Turkish sentences calls for some imagination and ingenuity on our part. And while we certainly want to make use of the simple Turkish translation techniques we learned for shorter sentences, we also need to do a Turkish translation 'pre-pass' on the long Turkish sentence to break it up into logical phrases and clauses that we can more easily work with. So, starting at the front and working towards the back, we'll snip off Turkish phrases and clauses and set them aside in sequential order -- whenever we encounter:

  • a Turkish verbal construction on it's own (like, the participle eden), or
  • a Turkish preposition on its own (like cihetiyle), or
  • a combination verbal construction followed immediately by a 'preposition' in Turkish language (like olduğu için)...
We'll worry about how they fit together meaningfully in the English translation, after we complete this Turkish translation 'pre-pass'.

  1. O tarihe kadar olan...
    (that is/was) until this time in history...
    Comments:
    1) We snipped this Turkish phrase because we hit a verbal construction on its own, olan.
    2) We need to recall from what we learned about simple Turkish translations, that olan (a present participle) 'links' with the following word (or word phrase) in the Turkish sentence -- which, in this case, is...

  2. ...kanun ve teamüle aykırı olarak...
    (being) contrary to law and tradition
    Comment: We snipped this Turkish phrase because we hit olarak (a verbal construction) on its own. And olarak links to the next word (or word phrase) which is...

  3. ...vezir-i azam tayin edilen...
    who was appointed Grand Vizier
    Comments:
    1) And we snipped this one, because we hit edilen (a Turkish verbal construction) on its own...

    2) Remember our history lesson above? It was Ibrahim who was appointed Grand Vizier, wasn't it? So this Turkish phrase can only refer to him -- not the gents who show up later in sentence.
    As an extra confirmation, we need only recall that
    edilen (a Turkish present participle) 'links' to
    the next word in the sentence, Ibrahim...
    So (in the backs of our minds)
    we are (just) beginning to be able to string these
    phrases/clauses together now, meaningfully.
    Aren't we?

  4. ...İbrahim, devlet işlerinde tabiî acemi olduğu için...
    Ibrahim, because he was rank amateur in the workings of state
    Comments:
    1) We snipped this clause because we hit olduğu için (a Turkish verbal construction followed immediately by a 'preposition')...
    2) The only favour the author of this difficult Turkish sentence has done for us English-speaking readers is to 'nail' Ibrahim as the sentence's subject. He's done that with the purposeful placement of the first comma of the sentence -- a dead give-away that the word preceding that first comma, Ibrahim, is the subject. This is a common 'device' that Turkish authors use to 'spot-light' the subjects of their long Turkish sentences -- and it may reward us to remember that.
    Turkish authors are very stingy
    when it comes to using punctuation marks,
    (like commas, for instance).
    So when they do use them, we pay a lot of attention!

  5. ...kendisine divan usul ve kaidelerini öğretecek birisi lazım olduğundan...
    because of it being necessary that someone would teach him the 'divan' methods and rules
    Comments:
    1) We snipped this one because we hit olduğundan (a Turkish verbal construction followed immediately by a 'preposition' --
    the suffix, -dan)
    2) Ibrahim could not teach himself the 'divan methods and rules', so at this point -- the Turkish sentence begins to shift to information about someone who could teach him...
    3) Notice how the -dan suffix means because of in this instance. Click to see another example of this and Other examples of the (too) many uses of -den/dan...

  6. ...Piri Paşa zamanında tezkirecilik eden...
    who was a secretary in the time of (Grand Vizier) Piri Paşa
    Comment: This Turkish clause got snipped because we hit eden (a verbal construction on its own)...

  7. ...fazl u kemali ve kaleminin kudreti ve divan işlerine vukufu cihetiyle...
    on account of his knowledge of the divan workings and his clerical office ability and because of his virtue and maturity
    Comment: We snipped this one because we hit cihetiyle (a Turkish-language 'preposition' on its own)...

  8. ...gerek Yavuz Sultan Selim ve gerek Kanuni Sultan Süleyman tarafından sevilen...
    who was loved both by Sultan Selim The Grim and Sultan Süleyman The Magnificent
    Comments:
    1) We snipped this one because we hit sevilen (a Turkish verbal construction on its own)...
    2) Notice how the repeated gerek (which means necessary, needed when it's not repeated) is used to mean both .. and, in this case -- as it fronts the two proper nouns, Yavuz Sultan Selim and Kanuni Sultan Süleyman.
    When it fronts more than two nouns/phrases it means whether...or -- as in, Gerek ben feryat edeyim, gerek siz feryat edin, gerek o feryat etsin, hepimiz dondurma için feryat ederiz. Whether I scream or you scream or she screams, we all scream for ice cream...

  9. Celal-zade Mustafa Bey bu işe memur edilmiştir.
    Mister Celal-zade Mustafa was entrusted with this job.
    Comment: We snipped this one because we hit edilmiştir (a Turkish verbal construction on its own) -- which happens also to be the end of the sentence, of course.

And, we suppose you could smoosh those Turkish phrases and clauses around in an attempt to preserve the long sentence structure for the English translation. If you did that you might end up with something like...

Ibrahim, who was appointed Grand Vizier contrary to the law and tradition (that had been accepted) up until this time, (because he) was a rank amateur in the workings of state, and because of it being necessary that someone would teach him the divan method and rules, Celal-zade Mustafa Bey who was a 'secretary' in the time of (Grand Vizier) Piri Paşa and who was loved both by Sultan Selim The Grim and Sultan Süleyman The Magnificent on account of his knowledge of the divan workings and his clerical office ability and because of his virtue and maturity, was entrusted with the task of this job.

But we don't think that reads very nicely. Do you...?
Besides, there are at least 8 distinctly different ideas in that one Turkish sentence --
eight ideas that have to penetrate through our ever-narrowing brain-passages,
all at once...
We prefer our Turkish-language-learning medicine in smaller doses, thank you.

So, if the one long-sentence English translation were broken up into, say, four shorter sentences -- with only two
different ideas per sentence,
like so...

Ibrahim was appointed Grand Vizier, contrary to existing law and tradition. Since he was an amateur in the workings of state, it was necessary for someone to teach him the method and rules of the divan. Mr. Mustafa, who was admired by both Süleyman and Selim, had been a divan secretary during the time of (Grand Vizier) Piri Paşa. So, Mr. Mustafa was given the task (to educate İbrahim)... due to Mr. Mustafa's knowledge of divan workings, his clerical office ability, and his virtue and maturity.

Ah, yes. Tha's much nicer, now...
Innit?


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