Turkish palatalized consonants


  • Stefano Canalis Boğaziçi University
  • Furkan Dikmen Boğaziçi University




Turkish phonology, vowel harmony, palatalized consonants


This study aims to explore the nature of consonant-final Turkish roots that select suffixes with front vowels despite having a back vowel in their final syllable, thus seemingly violating palatal harmony. While there is little controversy that final laterals in such roots are palatalized, opinions vary about the phonetic and phonological nature of the other final consonants. We want to argue that all word-final (or occasionally penultimate) consonants of these roots are palatalized, and that this palatalization is the underlying cause of ‘disharmony’. The phonetic evidence supporting our claims comes from an experiment in which we matched 12 irregular roots with their regular counterparts and asked 10 native speakers of Turkish to read these words. We found that, compared to ‘regular’ roots ending with a plain consonant, the final consonants of ‘irregular’ roots have a significantly higher F2. The last vowels of ‘irregular’ roots were also found to have a somewhat higher F2 than the last vowels of ‘regular’ roots at their offset, but the difference fairly rapidly decreases at vowel midpoint, and at vowel onset F2 values are very similar in both ‘regular’ and ‘irregular’ roots. These combined results suggest that the final consonant of the ‘irregular’ roots has an underlying palatal secondary articulation, while fronting in the preceding vowels is likely due to co-articulation.