A clumsy learner’s adventures: 7+ funny Turkish words

Here we go again. Back to the basics. It is not a secret that learning Turkish is a demanding job, needing a lot of your time, energy and… imagination. You must commit yourself with all your heart and mind. Unless you want to end up in a “complicated relationship” lasting forever and ever. Which, by the way, is still better than nothing.  Anyway, don’t despair! Besides all the sweating and frustration, learning Turkish can be fun! It depends on your perspective. When you feel you had enough and your brain cells are about to throw up all the Turkish they had stored, instead of looking glumly at your learning materials, take a deep breath and laugh your head off. Think about those Turkish words or expressions that make you giggle. Here’s my short list of funny words/ expressions. Hope to make you(r day) brighter 😉

  1. Piliç çevirme ~ What could you ask for more as a yabancı when you get both chicken (piliç) and translation (çevirme). And no, this meal is not a “translated chicken”, is grilled chicken, another meaning of çevirme being grill on a turning device.

    Photo: Pizza Gold

    Photo: Pizza Gold

  2. Mısır~ I don’t know about you but Mısır is on my holiday bucket list. One day I will visit this amazing country. No, I’m not talking about the land of corn (mısır). I don’t even like mısır (corn) that much! I’m talking about the land of pyramids, Egypt (Mısır). You got it! Turks use the same word for Egypt and corn.  Not so weird if we consider the fact that Türkiye in English is called turkey (animal). So what Turks have to do with turkeys and Egyptians with corn? But wait, there is more:
  3. Hindistan ~ Hindistan is the Turkish word for India. Nothing strange at the first sight, right? Wouldn’t be weird at all if the stem of the word weren’t hindi, which means turkey in Turkish. So India is another turkey, should we call it Turkeystan? 🙂
  4. Batman ~ Turks have their own Batman, or maybe Batman’s hometown is in Turkey. In South-Eastern Turkey there is a city called Batman, and guess what, there is also a Batman University. But I really doubt they are going to teach you fighting techniques.  Batman
  5. Şeftali ~ the fifth word is actually peach, which means şeftali in Turkish, a word you must learn, unless you want to get on people’s nerves, shock them or cause laughter. You probably wonder why, peach is an inoffensive word, right? Not in Turkish. If you read Elif Şafak’s bestseller novel Baba ve Piç (The Bastard of Istanbul), you already got the point. If no, never too late for a great novel. 😉 Piç pronounced as the English peach means bastard, having just like in English negative connotations, used often as a curse. If you ask me, there’s nothing more stupid than calling someonepiç/bastard. Why this word should be offensive? A child who’s parents didn’t get married or who doesn’t have a father is not a shame, is a child, an innocent child, judged by some societies. But that’s another story. Let’s get back to our list!

    Photo: deviantART: asliyazicioglu's

    Photo: deviantART: asliyazicioglu’s

  6. Pis ~ pronounced as the English peace, means dirty in Turkish. Although many Turkish people do know the meaning of peace, using it could get you into funny situations.
  7. Canı istemek ~ “to want”. This expression is a little bit confusing for a non-Turk, as the expression is literally translated as “the spirit/heart wants” (can means “life”, “spirit”, “heart” while istemek means “to want”). For example a Turkish song says: Canım seninle olmak istiyor = I want to be with you, lit. my heart wants to be with you. Nothing weird, right? But I can’t say the same about Canım elma istiyor ~ I want apple. lit. my heart wants apple. An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but still…

+some words for Romanian speakers:

  1. Tembel ~ lazy, in Romanian means stupid. So you could guess the look on my mother’s face when one of my Turkish friends jokingly called me tembel 🙂
  2. Cem ~ a common Turkish name which in Romanian (written as gem) means jam. At least it’s sweet 😉
  3. Murat ~ Turkish name, in Romanian means pickled. I guess is not very pleasant to be called like something preserved in vinegar or salt water. But for sure is funny. 😉

Çay lav yuu because…

dscn0460I’m an ardent story reader, and sometimes, on this blog, I pretend to be a storyteller. A story reader or teller who works better with çay (tea) especially with Turkish. I love to tell stories… although I usually tell them in Romanian, which by the way is not even my mother tongue, and still, is my native language. Now, probably you think that I drunk too much çay prepared with something stronger than water and ask yourself quite disappointed:

  • Why am I reading this nonsense post?”

Why? There’s always a “why”. And before your “why” arrived I had launched my own set of “Nedenler” (Whys). Don’t be afraid to get yourself lost in translation, soon it will be all clear whether we talk about the questions or the answers (just scroll down). Here’s the list:

  1. Neden yazarım?
  2. Neden bazı insanlar bunu okur?
  3. Neden kendime “neden” diye sorarım?
  4. Neden tüm “nedenlerin” cevabı bilmek isterim?
  5. Neden Türkiye?
  6. Neden Türkiye yerine İtalyadır?

Well, because every question is a boş çay baradağı (empty glass of tea)… excepting one. One single question, question no. 5 is a çay dolu bardak (full glass of tea): Why Tukey? which you can enjoy by clicking here. Şerefe! (Cheers!)

And to eliminate the initial confusion, my mother is Hungarian and my father is Romanian, so I do use to speak “fele apă fele viz” (apă=water in Romanian, viz= water in Hungarian, fele=half in Hugarian, it’s a way of saying “I speak half Hungarian half Romanian”), while on this blog I speak “half su half water”(su=water in Turkish). It seems that I’ve created even more confusion… I guess I’m pretty good at confusing people.

“Calm down baby and drink a çay!”- (never) said my inner Turk-“Then start with the beginning”

Hah! He can be really hilarious! I’ll continue with the beginning… as question no. 5 already had a head start. So…

  1. Why do I write?-Because my words flow like çay in the empty glasses… and there are still too many glasses to fill! Writing is a way to “exorcise” all my uncertainties and fears (together with jogging). Is a way to discover myself and the world surrounding me. It’s a way to (re)create my inner word and peace. Shortly, I write to understand myself. Who knows, one day I’ll figure out who I am! 😉
  2. Why do some people read this?– This glass cannot be filled by me. So, there is a boş çay baradağı and I cannot do anything about. Only you, my dear reader, can…
  3. Why do I ask myself “Why?”– 2 “whys” in the same question? Are you nut? I’m definitely not a nut (dried fruit)! Just in case… 😛 So why why? Because I am the girl with the “whys”! I’m hopefully in love with “why”! Obsessed! I need to know all the reasons and if I don’t, my mind will enter its storyteller mode and bomb me with unlimited possibilities of answer to “Why”. Sometimes I wonder how efficient and inefficient would I be without my dear “Why”?… (note: “Why” is quite important in social sciences)
  4. Why do I want to know the answer to all these whys?-Am I afraid to die stupid? Just a little bit…but please, don’t tell anybody else. Still a glass of çay can temporary work instead of the answer. Or another challenging “why”.
  5. ———————————————-> (scroll up if you missed it)
  6. Why Italy instead of Turkey?– now that’s a really really tough one. A short clarification to understand where does this question come from: those who have visited my blog at least once must have realized that I’m in love with Turkey or at least that this blog has many thing to do with Turkey. If you did not realize that,  but you did read my blog, it means that I’m doing a really awful job and I should stop writing right now. A consolation: I might be the worst writer ever, but at least you can find from time to time some great pictures here… and the name of my blog Turkish Delight Bazaar, should work as a hint. Now let’s get back to business. What all this has to do with Italy? I’m not an Italian, although I do spend some time in Italy, given that I’m studying there. As I told you before I’m some kind of “mixture” (just like Turkey), lost between my Hungarian and Romanian selves: People, especially foreigners tell me that I look like a Hungarian because of my light complexion and blonde hair, but everybody back home believes that I physically resemble more my father’s family, which is Romanian… Moreover, my way of being is considered more Hungarian than Romanian (?!), well, sometimes… Are you still there? Ya sabır ya Allah! (God give us patience!) We still haven’t reach our destination. A glass of çay would be welcomed now, you know what I mean. So here’s a Romanian-Hungarian girl, crazy about Turkey but studying in Italy… Guess what she’s studying? About TURKEY! Now can you understand this dilemma/trilemma…? I’ll give you a short solution: Kader (destiny). There’s an assumption that if you can explain something shortly you truly understand it. Well, not all the time… But I have plenty of time to understand. As for  Kader let’s say that he came before Turkey… And I love Kader almost as much as I love Turkey. So much that I’m considering to open an Italian boutique in my bazaar. Italy doesn’t have çay but it has the best latte macchiato and cappuccino to fill the empty glasses, amazing gelato (ice-cream) and pizzzzaaaa! Mamma mia! It’s impossible to resist! So enough with the “whys” for today!

Moral of the story: I need more çay (or cappuccino?) in my life, more dolu bardaklar!

A strange desire: 1(00)1 nights in the harem

1558591591.interior02© Abbeville Press

“Are youu crazy???” No, I’m not. Actually… Yes, I am. But not in the way you might think! Shhhtt… Chill! Don’t judge before reading, DO comment after.

Let me tell you a short story:

Once upon a time beyond the woods,  beyond high mountains, beyond the seven seas… there was a girl.

Whom am I lying to? This is not a fairytale. This is the opposite of a fairytale. (Is it?) There IS a girl. Now. Here. She hates “fairytales” starring presumed real life monsters, imagined hell and stereotypes. The myths. Hates and loves them in a strange way. Loves to unveil their hidden truth and hates the reactions myths trigger.

Now she points a finger at the Ottoman harem. Wait, they did, and they stained it with their dirty words: lust, brothel, sexual slaves.

And this is her response:

  • “I would love to spend 1(00)1 nights in the harem!”
  • “Are you insane? Have you lost your mind?”- followed by their thoughts-“This girl has no principles! Why on Earth would someone want to become the toy of the sultan?”

Well, that girl is me. And no, I DO NOT dream to be a slave! I don’t even want to see the sultan! My purpose is more… scientific. If I had the opportunity to travel back in time I would choose the Ottoman harem.

Before telling you why, let me debunk some myths and provide you some useful information:

  • Harem is not the synonym of lust, actually harem means sacred, taboo, forbidden, respect, purity and honour:

“The word harem is one of an important family of words in the vocabulary of Islam derived from the Arabic root h-r-m.” meaning “to be forbidden or unlawful, and to declare sacred, inviolable, or taboo. A harem is by definition a sanctuary or a sacred precinct.The most sacred or exalted places in the sixteenth-century Ottoman world were harems. The holy cities of Mecca and Medina and their environs were, and remain, the two most revered harems in Islam. One of the most important titles held after 1517 by the Ottoman sultan, like the sultans of preceeding dynasties before him, was “the servant of the two noble sanctuaries” (hadımul-haremeynül-şerifeyn), a title proudly used today by the rulers of Saudi Arabia.” (…)”While not himself divine, the sultan, “God’s shadow on Earth,” created a sacred space with his presence. (…)The private quarters in the palace precinct to house women and children of the royal household, was referred to as “the imperial harem” because of the presence there not of women but of the sultan.”  Leslie Peirce-The Ottoman Harem, Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire

  • Therefore, “harem” referred also to family. This means that we are not talking (only) about slaves but first and foremost about the wife or wives (up to 4), children, mother (valide sultan), mothers-in-law, divorced or widowed sisters of the sovereign, and of course, their female servants.
  • Yes, there were servants. BUT many of them occupied administrative positions in the harem and received large salaries:

According to Travel Link Turkey: “the actual handling of the Harem was performed and shared by two women, Kahya, “Head Housekeeper” and Haznedar Usta, “Head Treasurer”. Haznedar Usta was responsible for the financial matters of the Harem, and she acted like a treasurer allocating cash allowances and material possessions to harem women in direct proportion to their rank. After kalfa and haznedar usta, came Kalfas, the senior maids who were responsible for several duties: First Secretary, First seal-bearer, First Mistress of Robes and so forth. They were assisted by lesser servants called Halayiks.”

  • Consequently, some women enjoyed economic independence:

“A further source of women’s influence beyond the family was their ownership and exploitation of property.”(…) “(Women) contribute(d) to the public welfare by endowing religious foundations (…) or undertaking other forms of charity. From the great mosque complexes founded by the sultans’ mothers to modest neighborhood endowments created by ordinary individuals, Ottoman women left their mark on the cities.(…) An interesting feature of women’s public charity was that a significant portion of it was aimed at helping other women: contemporary histories and testamentary documents show well-to-do individuals making provision not only for female family members and retainers but also for less fortunate women: orphans, paupers, prisoners, and prostitutes.” Leslie Peirce-The Ottoman Harem, Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire

  • Moreover, women in harem were educated: they were teached about Ottoman culture, learned to read and write in Ottoman Turkish, to play various instruments, to sing, to dance and to recite poetry.
  • We must mention that there was a period in the Ottoman history called the “Sultanate of Women”, when the empire was ruled by women. Some of them exerted a great influence in Ottoman politics from the shadow, as Hürrem, the wife of Suleyman the Magnificent, while others, see Kösem Sultan, were official regents.

So, as you can see, life wasn’t that bad in the Ottoman harem.

Now, let me tell you WHY I would choose the Ottoman harem as a destination if I had the opportunity to travel back in time:

  • This part is shorter than you were expected, as my answer is quite simple: to discover the truth and debunk more myths!

A clarification:

  • I would spend 1(00)1 (11, let’s admit 3 years would be too much) nights in the Ottoman harem as an observant or in an administrative position.

Funny Turkish for English speakers

Very funny! How a conversation about drinking ayran (Turkish diluted salted yoghurt) in Turkish might sound in English:599377_447913915242140_636774767_n

Turkish version:

Ayran içtin mi? (Did you drink ayran?)
Evet, içtim. (Yes, I drank)
Ayran içmek istiyorsan, iç. (If you want to drink ayran, drink)
Hayır, demin içtim. (No, I have just drunk)
Kaç bardak içtin? (How many glasses did you drink?)
On bardak içtim. (I drank ten glasses)
Vay hayvan vay! (Oh you animal!)

Photo: Turkish Memes-Facebook [1]

Laugh and…Turkish with Nasrettin Hoca

When learning a foreign language on our own, we usually tend to follow the traditional path, learning grammar, exercising, memorizing vocabulary… step by step, again and again. Feeling that we are moving forward too slowly. Impatient and frustrated. Fighting to keep our motivation at an acceptable level. Transforming the once enjoyable activity into a boring routine… I’m very familiar with this scenario. A gray scenario which can be integrated into a success story, if we are not afraid of using colours. Learning a foreign language doesn’t have to be a dull or unpleasant activity. Learning a foreign language should be fun. Learning Turkish can be fun! Sometimes we simply need to disconnect from our traditional learning activity by… learning… in an unconventional way. It can be more effective than you think. There are various methods we can employ in language learning. Today, given that is Sunday, I will use a funny method. Learning by translating short, humorous stories. I’m introducing you Nasrettin Hoca (or Nasreddin Hoca), a funny and wise 13th Century character, who’s anecdotes and humorous stories became part of the Turkish folklore. You have probably heard about Nasrettin Hoca even if you are not a Turk. I discovered him long time ago, as Nastratin Hogea in Romanian children story books. Now, let’s read three of his stories in Turkish! Enjoy them!


NE KADAR

Hoca hızlı ve yüksek sesle bağırmaya çalışıyordu. Biri onu gördü ve ona bir şey olduğunu sandı. Hemen Nasrettin Hoca’nın yanına kadar koştu ve sordu:

-Hocam ne oldu?

Nasrettin Hoca bağırmaya devam etti ve dedi ki,

-Ben, benim sesimin ne kadar uzağa gittiğini merak ediyorum…

English translation:

HOW (FAR)

Hoca was shouting loudly. A man saw him and thought that something had happened to him. He immediately run to Nasrettin hoca and asked him:

-What happened Hoca?

Nasrettin hoca continued to shout and said:

-I’m curious how far my voice can reach…


BEN UYUYORUM

Bir gün Nasrettin Hoca şehre gelip, bir arkadaşıyla birlikte handa kalmış. gece yarısı arkadaşı sormuş :

-Hocam, uyudunuz mu?

-Buyurun bir şey mi var?

-Biraz borç para isteyeyim demiştim.

Nasreddin hoca derhal horlamaya başlayıp:

-Ben uyuyorum!

English translation:

I’M SLEEPING

One day Nasrettin Hoca went in the town, and stayed in an inn with one of his friends. At midnight his friend asked:

Hoca, are you sleeping?

-Is there something wrong?

I wanted to ask you to borrow me some money.

Nasreddin Hodja started immediately to snore:

I’m sleeping!

CENNET

Bir gün padişah Nasreddin Hoca’dan sormuş :

-Hocam ben ölünce cennete mi gideceğim yoksa cehenneme mi, söyle bakayım?

Hoca padişahtan korkmadan :

-Cehenneme gidersiniz padişahım.

Padişahın sinirden sakalları titremiş. Bu durumu gören Hoca :

-Kızmayın padişahım ben aslında size cennete gidersiniz diyecektim fakat sizin cellatlarınızın kılıçlarıyla ölen suçsuz kişilerden cennet dolup taşmış. Bu yüzden cennete sığmazsınız diye cehenneme gidersiniz dedim.

English translation:

HEAVEN

One day the sultan asked Nasrettin Hoca:

-Hoca, tell me, when I die, will I go to heaven or to hell?

Hoca, without being afraid of the sultan:

– You will go to hell.

The sultan was shaking his beard with anger. Noticing the situation Hoca added:

-Don’t be angry, my sultan, I would have really wanted to say that you are going to go to heaven, but the heaven is already full of the innocent people killed by the swords of your executioners. That’s why I said that you are not going to go to heaven but to hell.


*Native Turks and proficient speakers may find minor errors in my translation, given that, as I said in my previous posts, I’m still learning Turkish. Therefore if you notice any mistakes I’m kindly asking you to let me know.

nasrettin-hoca

Image source: [1]

Source of Turkish stories: [2]