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. 😉

3. Learn to count in Turkish!

200264414-001You already know the Turkish Alphabet, now it’s time to learn the numbers!

Numbers- Sayılar

1- bir
2- iki
3- üç
4- dört
5- beş
6- altı
7- yedi
8- sekiz
9- dokuz
10- on

20- yirmi
30- otuz
40- kırk
50- elli
60- altmış
70- yetmiş
80- seksen
90- doksan
100- yüz
1.000- bin
1.000.000- bir milyon bir milyar

Numbers from eleven are built by spelling out the tens, followed by the digits
11- on bir
12- on iki
13- on üç
24- yirmi dört
568- beş yüz altmış sekiz
2.500.000- iki milyon beş yüz bin

The Ordinals:

In Turkish the ordinals are formed by adding the -(i)nc(i) suffix and respecting the great vowel hamony and in some cases the consonant hamony. If you missed the lesson about the vowel and consonant harmony click here.

1st- birinci
5th- beşinci
11th- on birinci
20th- yirminci
100th- yüzüncü
1.000th- bininci
1.000.000th- milyonuncu
1. Rosita D’Amora, Corso di Lingua Turca, Hoepli, 2012

Image: http://preschooler.thebump.com/should-toddler-able-count-1474.html


Colours of life and…stairs a la Turca

143743If someone asks me “How is your life?”(Hayatın nasıl?) the best answer (cevap) I can give is “Very colourful” (Çok renkli), most of the time (zaman) painted (boyamak) in bright (parlak) and serene (rahat) colours like blue (mavi) or green (yeşil), sunbathed in yellow (sarı) because my first love (așk) is the sun (güneş), splashed with orange (turuncu) refreshing orange (portokal) juice, fired with red (kırmızı) enthusiasm (heves), sweetened with pink (pembe) childish smiles and purple (mor) dreams (hayal), powered with a great amount of white (beyaz) determination (azim)… and only extremely rarely (nadiren) stained with grey (gri) or black (siyah) melancholy (melankoli) and fears (korku).

We (biz) all live (yaşamak) in a world (dünya) of colours, having the opportunity (imkan) to choose (seçmek) the proper shades (gölge) and quantities (miktar) of paint for our life’s masterpiece (başyapıt). We can play (oynamak) with colours as we wish… we can throw all our ‘raw’ feelings (duygu) on the canvas or follow our rationality’s (rasyonalite) rigid methods of painting… What we should keep in mind (akılda tutmak) while handling the paint brush (boya fırçası) is that we cannot erase (silmek) our actions (eylem) and that we have only one canvas… So we should be very careful (dikkatlı) not to waste (boşa harcamak) our time and space on the canvas with shapes (şekil) and shades which do not represent (temsil etmek) us, creating a false (yanlış) and unsatisfying painting, with its colours melting (erimek) in a dark (koyu) and dirty (kirli) mixture. It’s hard (zor) to be the artist (sanatçı) of your own life, to manage events (olay), feelings (duygu) and facts in a proper manner, to take sincere (dürüst) decisions (karar) and to make our mind (akıl) see eye to eye with our heart (kalp). If we succeed (başarmak) our inner painting will be reflected (yansıtmak) in our ‘outside’ world as well, colouring our lenses (mercek) and everything that surrounds (çevrelemek) us. Our ‘outside’ world follows our ‘inside’ world. And vice versa (tersine).

I love colours, and probably that is another reason (sebep) why I love Turkey. It’s a colourful and lively (ruhlu) country (ülke). From its  people (halk), cities, bazaars to its… stairs (merdiven). Everything is splashed with colours. The wave (dalga) of rainbow (gökkuşağı) stairs hit Turkey in 2013, when a retired (emekli) engineer (mühendis), Huseyin Cetinel, painted a massive staircase in rainbow hues in Istanbul. Even though the rainbow stairs became the symbol (simge) of the anti-government resistance (direnme) and of the LGBT community, the original purpose (amaç) was to make people smile (gülmek). Today there are many rainbow stairs all around Turkey, colouring happiness (mutluluk) on faces (yüz) and souls (can).

Image source: [1]


1. Start with the beginning: Pronunciation

The Turkish Alphabet (Alfabe) has 29 letters (harf). Let’s learn their pronunciation!

8 vowels (ünlüler):
a– as `aa` in bazaar
e– as `e` in ten
ı– as `a`(first) in again, similar to Romanian `â`
i– as `i` in Turkish
o– as `o`in over
ö– as `u` in turn, similar to Hungarian and German `ö`
u– as `o`in who
ü– as `ue`in value, similar to Hungarian and German `ü`

21 consonants (ünsüzler):
b– as `b` in boy
c– as `j` in joke
ç– as `ch` in church
d– as `d` in dance
f– as `f` in face
g– as `g` in give
ğ– soft G- lenghtens the preceding vowel. ex. dağ (mountain) is pronounced daa
h– as `h` in hobby
j– as `s`in casual, similar to Romanian `j`
k– as `c` in cake
l– as `l` in learn
m– as `m` in moon
n– as `n` in name
p– as `p` in picture
r– as `r` in red
s– as `s` in summer
ş– as `sh`in shape
t- as `t` in travel
v– as `v` in village
y– as `y` in you
z– as `z` in zone

If you still have doubts about pronunciation check the following video (Turkish Alphabet for children):

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!


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:


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…


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:


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!


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:


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.


Image source: [1]

Source of Turkish stories: [2]

Build up your vocabulary with “intruders”!


I’m not ready (hazır değilim) to write (yazmak) a whole post (blog yazısı) in Turkish. I’m not ready yet (henüz). I must confess (itiraf etmek) that I’m afraid (korkmak) of making mistakes (hata). So I came up with a solution (çözüm). This (bu) solution. From now (şimdi) on a part of my writings will include (içermek) ‘intruders’.

I will welcome them, and wait (beklemek) until they will conquer (fethetmek) my bazaar (pazar).  You should do the same (aynı). Let your mind’s (akıl) citadel be invaded (istila etmek) by Turkish intruders. I’m talking about words (söz), of course (elbette)! I will help (yardım etmek) you to convert the voices (ses) in your head (kafa) to Turkish, by seasoning my posts with Turkish words.  I made my decision (karar) after realizing that some of my friends (arkadaş) had involuntarily learned (öğrenmek) Turkish words (söz) by reading (okumak) my latest post. In order to make learning easier (kolay) I will use (kullanmak) in the brackets only (sadece) the infinitive forms of verbs (fiil) and singular forms of nouns (isim). And I promise (söz vermek) that later I will explain (açıklamak) the tenses, and other grammar issues (soru), and even write in Turkish.  Meanwhile have fun (eğlence) and learn Turkish!


Image source: [1]

Welcome to my bazaar! Enjoy Turkish delight!


There are no such things in life as coincidences or innocent events. Even if we try to avoid entering some doors, we will end up in the same, initially rejected rooms, embraced by our destinies. The foggy fate is watching our steps and directing them towards the accomplishment of the purposes of our lives. Which is the purpose of my life? What is my mission? I don’t know yet. But I know where I should look for it. In the bazaar… It’s not an option, it’s a fact.

I have been unconsciously attracted to the so-called Orient since my early years. My favourite cartoons were “Aladdin and the Magic Lamp”. Furthermore, in the 5th grade my “most successful” descriptive essay, published in the school’s newspaper, was depicting olive trees, dunes, oasis, mosques, spicy fragrances and endless summers, inspired by the “1001 Arabian Nights”. My fascination has never faded away… Long after, it burst into my life by mistake, a fortunate mistake. Even though I dreamt to become a psychologist, I ended up (still don’t know how) studying international relations. In my second year of university I participated in the European Parliament Simulation, working on the issue of human rights violation in Iran. That was the moment when I became aware of the stereotypical representation of the Muslim societies and decided to write my Bachelor thesis about westernization and orientalism, trying to debunk some Western myths related to the majority Muslim countries and to Islamic culture. Turkey was one of the case studies of my thesis, and a year after it turned into my temporary home, as I was undertaking an internship in Turkey.

Who am I? I’m a Romanian citizen, studying in Italy about Turkish politics… determined to learn Turkish and to understand Turkish realities. I’ve created this blog in order to motivate my “inner Turk” with sugar and words. With lokum (Turkish delight) and Turkish language. Why Turkish Delight Bazaar? Because this blog is a bazaar, where you can find diverse posts related to Turkey, from Turkish language lessons, issues, study materials, short translations  to cultural “sweets”, curiosities, facts, news… Because I’m delighted to learn Turkish and about Turkey… Because I love Turkish delight, and even more, a few years ago a very kind Turkish woman called me lokum.

Before starting, I must add that I’m neither a Turkish teacher nor an expert in linguistic, consequently this is not a professional language blog… I’m still learning Turkish and I intend to transform this blog into a personalized learning tool. Therefore, Turkish Delight Bazaar will provide you learning methods sweetened with cultural Turkish lokum. Learning and sharing. Learning and enjoying. Learning and delight. Turkish delight. A colorful bazaar with countless types of Turkish delights.

Image source: http://cafefernando.com/lokum/