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. 😉

Deniz~The sea

9533004939_a06b10be80_o(1)                            Photo credits:Sam Agnew

Deniz gibiyim… Dalgaların beni istedikleri yere alıp sürüklemesine rağmen geleceğe güvenle bakarım. Dalgalara güvenirim. Ancak, çoğu zaman onları kontrol etmeye çalışırım. Hiçbir rüzgar, hiçbir fırtına, hiçbir yağmur, hiçbir gök gürültüsü, yıldırım ya da siyah bulutlar hayallerimi ve umudumu yok edemez. Cünkü soyadım İyimser. Her zaman hayallerinin peşinde koşan birisiyim. Hiç durmam. Duramam. Başarılı olsam da olmasam da önemli değildir. Seyahat, varış yerinden daha önemlidir ve de daha güzel, daha manalı. Umutsuzluğa vakit yok. Bir limana er ya da geç ulaşacağım. Ve eğer o benim hayalımdeki “limanım” değilse yolculuğuma devam edeceğim. Bir denizim, duramam. Her gerçekleştirilmiş hayalin ardından yeni bir hayal doğar. Her hüsran sonrası yeni bir umut doğar. Her ölen dalga yeni bir dalga doğurur. Bu denizin güzelliği. Deniz kontrol edemez. Mevlana’nın da dediği gibi “Kalp deniz, dil kıyı gibidir. Denizde ne varsa kıyıya o vurur.” Nasıl olsa.


I’m like the sea… The waves carry me where they want, but still, I am confident about the future. I trust the waves. Although most of the time I’m trying hard to control them. No wind, no storm, no rain, no thunder, no lightning or black clouds can take my dreams and hope away. Because my second name is Optimist. I’m always chasing rainbows. I never stop. I cannot stop. It doesn’t matter whether I succeed or not, the journey is more important than the destination. And more beautiful. More meaningful. There is no time for desperation. Sooner or later I will reach a port. And if that’s not the „port” of my dreams, I will continue the journey. I am a sea. I cannot stop. After every fulfilled dream a new dream is born. After every defeat a new hope is born. Every dying wave gives birth to a new wave. That’s the beauty of the sea. The sea cannot be controlled. As Mevlana said “Heart is a sea, language is a shore. Whatever sea includes, will hit the shore.” Sooner or later.

Duvarların mesajı~The message of the walls

1185961_440645026048275_169186599_n Photo: Global Street Art

This is my first little Türkçe story inspired by my dear grandmother. English version at the end. Enjoy it! 🙂

Duvarların mesajı
*Gerçek hikaye

Çocukken büyükannem bana:
-“Duvarlara bak! Üzerindeki yazılan mesajını görebilir misin?”- derdi.
Orada hiçbir şey yokken benim cevabım:
-“Hayır, büyükanne…” olurdu.
-“Peki, canım, duvarların mesajını “Öğren, öğren, öğren!”” –diyerek devam etti- “Onu görmek için kendine izin vermelisin. Şimdi, tekrar bak! Görebildin mi?”
Cevabım ‘Evet, büyükanne! Görebildim’- oluncaya kadar duvarların mesajını hayal etmek için mücadele verdim…
“Unutma! Onu görmek yeterli değil, duvarların öğüdünü takip etmelisin. Sadece böylece duvarların arkasındaki gerçekleri görebileceksin’-dedi.
O zamandan beri gerçeği bulmak ve kendimi önyargılardan kurtarmak amacıyla duvarların mesajını takip ediyorum. Büyükanne, teşekkür ederim!


The message of the walls
*True story

When I was a child my grandmother used to ask me:
-“Look at the walls! Can you see the message written on them?”
As there was nothing my answer would be:
-“No, grandma…”
She continued by saying:
-“Well sweetheart, the message of the walls is: “Study, study, study!” You have to allow yourself to see it. Now look again! Can you see it?”
I tried hard to imagine the message on the walls… until my answer was:
-“Yes, grandma! I can see it now.”
-“Don’t forget! It’s not enough to see the message of the walls, you must follow their advice! Only this way you’ll be able to see the truth behind the walls.”-she said.
Ever since, I’ve been trying to follow the message of the walls, in order to find the truth and free myself of prejudices. Thank you grandma!

From İnşallah to Maşallah

8862194241_92a75d1d2d_oPhoto credits: Anita Gould 

Since I’ve started my irregular Turkish language learning adventure I developed an extraordinary ability to complain. Whenever I get the chance to talk with somebody in Turkish after the usual Merhaba (Hello), Nasılsın? (How are you?) and Ne yapıyorsun? (What are you doing?) a painful need to say Türkçe çok zor! (Turkish is very difficult!) terrorizes my brain. It’s not because I cannot continue, it’s more like an absurd need to inform my interlocutors about how difficult their language is.  I succeed to silence my stubborn mind and to continue the conversation for a while. Untill I “smash into” the first linguistic obstacle… and then my “struggle” is suddenly over.  There is nothing left to do but wave the white flag and surrender by finally saying the “magic” words: Türkçe çok zor! And what do I get instead? Hadi ya! (used to express disbelief) Gerçekten mi? (Really?) Türkçe dünyanın en kolay dillerinden birisidir. (Turkish is one of the easiest languages of the world.) Of course, Turkish is easy… for Turks. But it really is difficult(gerçekten!) for foreigners. Actually is the most difficult language I’ve been learning. Yes, I’m aware that the other languages I’ve studied, Italian, Spanish and French, are Latin languages, therefore it’s not so difficult for a Romanian to understand them.

But wait, I’m half Hungarian!

And both Hungarian and Turkish are Ural-Altaic languages. But so are Finnish, Estonian, Tatar and Mongolian. That means I should learn them easily, right? If only it would be so simple… Knowing Hungarian didn’t make my job (much more) easier. I cannot deny that there are some similarities between Turkish and Hungarian grammar and both have sounds like ‘ü’ and ‘ö’. I even found a common sentence Cebimde çok küçük elma var.(Tr) -Zsebemben sok kicsi alma van.(Hu) (I have many little apples in my pocket.). But that’s all, this is the point where the two languages sign the divorce papers in my mind.

So I’m on my own again…

Me and Turkish. Sometimes we are so happy together! We are in seventh heaven! But our occasional quarrels bring us back down to earth with a bump… Even though I did learn the grammar rules on my own and I’ve been working on my Turkish vocabulary whenever I had  spare time, I still have problems when reading literature. I still need the dictionary, patience and… time. I still make mistakes when writing long complex phrases. Oh, we have such a complicated relationship. Me and Turkish. But we will manage somehow, İnşallah! (if God willing! I hope so!) Adım Adım. (step by step). I’m dreaming about the day when I won’t need to ask people Tekrar eder misiniz, lütfen? (Can you, please, repeat?) or Bu ne demek? (What does this mean?). The day when Anlamadım (I don’t understand) will disappear from my vocabulary. The day when my Turkish will be Maşallah! (Magnificent!) and not just güzel (pretty, good)The day I will talk like a Turk.

On my way to Maşallah… Since I have a busy schedule I will set some milestones:

  • discover my weaknesses and turn them into strengths (in other words find the most common mistakes I make and do some research)
  • read (and finish!) a novel in Turkish (devote at least a half an hour/day to lecture)
  • listen to Turkish music and translate the lyrics (post a song+lyrics/week on blog)
  • watch a Turkish movie/week
  • speak and write in Turkish as much as possible
  • Post every day on Turkish Delight Bazaar’s Facebook page

İnşallah I’ll reach my destination!

The first 5 words you see describe you

My words are: güneş (sun- well, I’m in love with the sun), eğitim (education, I’m a Ph.D. student right? 😛 ), sevgi (love- because all we need is loooveee), Nutella (?! I’m not counting this, as is not even a Turkish word, but I do love Nutella ♥), kahve (coffee, of course ⭐ !) and sonuç (result, outcome)
Your turn!
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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!