Shwa for Turkish
Türkçe için Şua

This page will introduce you to a new way to write Turkish, using the Shwa script. Shwa is featural, so letters look like they sound, and it's universal, so everyone will agree on the values of the letters. It's also fully supported by digital media: fonts, keyboards, apps and programs, and it needs only a 20-key keyboard, the same one for every language.

The modern Turkish alphabet is the result of one of the most important of Atatürk's reforms, and it has been a great success. His Language Commission chose the Latin alphabet mostly to make a clean break with the past, and because it was (and still is) widely used and adaptable.

Shwa is not yet widely used, but it can be adapted to Turkish perhaps even better than the Latin alphabet. Not only does the Turkish alphabet include some new letters (ÇĞİıŞ), but it also uses some old letters in new ways (CJ). Because of this, foreigners will probably not pronounce Turkish correctly, even if they read the Latin alphabet, and we may have some trouble reading other languages written in the same script we use. Shwa also has an advantage in the handling of yumuşak g; another is in the palatalization of back consonants by front vowels (âû).


Here are the consonants of Turkish, with the current orthography in black and IPA in green:

p p t t ç ʧ k^ c k k
b p d t c ʤ g^ ɟ g g
f f s s ş ʃ h h
v z z j ʒ y j
m m n n r ɾ l^ l l ɫ

The letters in green and blue represent soft and hard versions of the same Roman letters, k g l. The soft versions usually appear with front vowels (see below), and the hard versions usually appear with back vowels. However, the "wrong" versions are used often enough, in foreign words and names, that the Roman orthography adds a circumflex to a following back vowel (â or û) to indicate when one of these consonants is unexpectedly palatalized. Shwa just writes them differently all the time.

There are several other consonant alternations:


Turkish has a very systematic vowel system. Since Turkish displays vowel harmony, native words have either all front vowels or all back vowels.

----- Front ----- ----- Back -----
Spread Round Spread Round
High i i ü y ı ɯ u u
Low e e ö ø a a o o

The vowel is pronounced ä æ before m n r l at the end of a syllable, and that's how Shwa writes it.

Turkish words are generally stressed on the last syllable. However, proper names have a different stress pattern (called Sezer stress), in which the stress falls on the penult (second syllable from the end). But if the penult ends in a vowel and the antepenult (third from the end) ends in a consonant, then the stress falls on the antepenult. In either pattern, Shwa always writes the stressed vowel high.


Now that you've learned the letters, why don't you try reading a sentence?

Yurtta Barış, Dünyada Barış

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