Turkish — more specifically, the standard Turkish dialect of Istanbul — is a very boring-sounding language, at least superficially. What I mean by this is that it has no distinct, uniquely-identifying sounds. For example:
- even if you don’t know any Russian, you can tell if people are speaking Russian because of its rampant palatalization (that is, its many y sounds, as in nyet);
- Arabic is easily identifiable by its baffling array of throat sounds; and
- Georgian (along with other Caucasian languages) is distinguished by its varieties of consonants and its many consonant clusters.
Turkish has nothing like this. It’s a very generic blend of Southern European and Middle Eastern sounds, shorn of anything remarkable. The first time I went to Turkey, I was shocked by how uninteresting the language sounded.
I still feel that way to a great extent, but it turns out that there’s a little more to the sound of Turkish than can be heard by a casual listener, namely vowel harmony, a process whereby the vowels within a word match each other in certain qualities.