Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Geniş zaman - repetition

Today I've drilled the „geniş zaman” – one of the most often used tenses in Turkish. I revised several lessons of the Basic Turkish Course by the Foreign Language Institute. It has a very extensive audio material which help me drill the most important structures. „Geniş zaman” is present, e.g. in a very useful phrase „teşekkür ederim”.

Similarly as in English, Turkish language has two present tenses (apart from the English Present Perfect). One of them is called „geniş zaman” which may be translated as „broad time”. Its main task is to describe broader actions, with no particular starting or ending point. We just don't know it. When we say „he comes late” we state that he always or often comes late. If we wanted to say about one particular, present, instance, we would say: „he's coming late”. This works the same way in Turkish. Of course, as always, there are exceptions.

Gazete okur musun? Çok okurum
The structure is not that simple. There are three different endings: -r, -ir, -er, depending on the form of the verb stem (with some exceptions). Once we have added the „geniş zaman” infix, we need to add the usual personal ending. Remember, there's no ending for the third person singular. Of course rules of vowel harmony apply.

„Geniş zaman” infixes:
*-r when the verb stem ends in a vowel
dinle-r (he listens)
*-er/-ar when the stem has only one syllable and ends with a consonant
bak-ar (he looks)
gid-er (he goes)
*-ir/-ır/-ur/-ür when the stem has more than one syllable and ends in a consonant
getir-ir (he brings)
bırak-ırsın (you look)

Examples
Geç gelir. – He comes late.
(Geç geliyor. – He's coming late)
Gazete okur musun? Do you read a newspaper? (often, regularly)
Ağustos ayında buğday toplarlar – In August they harvest the wheat.
Ben Türkçe konuşurum – I speak Turkish.

Exceptions
There are some verbs with one-syllable stems which don't take -er but -ir infix:
al-        alır (take, buy)
bil-      bilir (know)
bul-     bulur (find)
gel-      gelir (come)
kal-     kalır (stay)
ol-        olur (be, become)
öl-        ölür (die)
dur-     durur (stop, stand)
var-     varır (arrive)
ver-     verir (give)
vur-     vurur (shoot, strike)
gör-     görür (see)
san-     sanır (think)


Apart from that general meaning, similarly to its English equivalent, Turkish „broad tense” can also have other meanings:
*making promises or announcements:
Yarın gelirim. – I'll come tomorrow./I'm coming tomorrow.
*making suggestions (with a past tense ending, similar to English „would”)
Kahve içerdim. – I would drink a coffee.
Doktora gidersin. – You should go to a doctor.
*polite requests:
Tekrarlar mısın? – Could you repeat?
*some idiomatic exspressions:
Olur mu? – Is it OK?
Bakar mısınız? – Could you come please? (when said to a waiter)
*well-known phrases, formulas, proverbs:
Teşekkür ederim. – Thank you. (Not that I'm always grateful to you but rather that „I'm thanking you”.)
Tebrik ederim! – Congratulations!

Negative forms are a bit tricky, because they have their own infix: -mez, sometimes abbreviated to -me. Full set is as follows:
ben       gel-me-m
sen       gel-mez-sin
o           gel-mez
biz        gel-me-yiz
siz        gel-mez-siniz
onlar   gel-mez-ler

But in negative questions, the infix is regular in all cases:
gelmez miyim?
gelmez misin?
gelmez mi?
gelmez miyiz?
gelmez misiniz?
gelmezler mi?

(The examples come from the book „Colloquial Turkish” by J. Aarssen & A. Backus.)
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