Note on Transliteration and Turkish Pronunciation

In: Reading Islam
Fabio Vicini
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Note on Transliteration and Turkish Pronunciation

I have generally opted for using the Ottoman and Turkish versions of words in the Latin script of Modern Turkish when the text deals primarily with Ottoman and Turkish history and, relatedly, with the two communities under study (i.e., ulema in place of ulama, vakıf in place of wafq). Contrarily, when talking more generally about the broader Islamic tradition, Arabic terms have been preferred to Turkish ones (i.e., tafakkur instead of the Turkish tefekkür, dhikr instead of zikr, sunna instead of sünnet, fiqh instead of fıkıh). Words of Arabic and Persian origin have been transliterated following a highly simplified transliteration system, without using diacritics apart from the ʿayn and the hamza of the words Qurʾan and shariʿa and daʿwa respectively. Also, the names of Islamic works and scholars have been reported without diacritics. Turkish words have been reported in their modern Latin script form, without diacritics apart from those that are normally present in modern Turkish writing (ö, ü, ğ, ç). For simplification, I have pluralized Turkish and Arabic words using an “s” (i.e., vakıfs in place of vakıflar, abis in place of abiler). Names of places like Istanbul have been rendered in their commonly used English forms. All dates are expressed in CE.

Modern Turkish is written in Latin script, but it contains several letters that are not present in the English alphabet, which are pronounced as follows:

Ç, ç

“ch” as in “chart”


lengthens the sound of the vowel preceeding it; when between two vowels it is not pronounced

I, ı

the sound of the “a” as pronounced in “along”

Ö, ö

same as the sound of “u” in “turn”

Ş, ş

“sh” as in “shine”

Ü, ü

“u” as in “cube”

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