If you plan on learning Turkish, I hope you have a sense of humor. You see, I live in a country where ‘Piss’ is not a swear word but ‘Peach’ is. Phonetically speaking that is.
In Turkey the word ‘Pis’ means filthy and ‘Pic’ is a swear word equivalent to b*stard! Interesting when buying fruit in the market eh?
There are quite a few words in the Turkish language that sound the same, or very similar to English words. This can be a good way to start learning Turkish; working with what you know.
For Example, one that never fails to amuse is the word ‘Balık’. No, not rude, just the word for fish and heard repeatedly from the market sellers as they cry ‘Balık, Balık, Balık’ as the tourists snigger by. The word ‘Fish’ is in fact the Turkish word for receipt (Fiş).
If you happen to be called Sue, then here you will be ‘water’ (Su). If you were named ‘Eric’ then hello to you ‘plum’ (Erik). Perhaps you are called ‘Ben’, in which case you are ‘I’ as in ‘I am’.
Are you a drinker? Then asking for a ‘Beer’ will get you the number ‘1’ (Bir). For Beer, try asking for ‘Bira’.
Feeling a bit ‘iki’ means you are the number ‘2’.
Saying no? The word is ‘hayir’ pronounced ‘higher’ so another one you already know, but….more often than not the locals will use the word ‘yok’ which is really ‘not’.
While Turkey is a phonetic language, it does help to learn the alphabet so that you know a ‘C’ is actually pronounced ‘J’. Therefore, should you ask for ‘Jam’ at breakfast, you will be asking for ‘glass’ (Cam).
There is a second C and this one has a squiggle underneath (Ç) and is pronounced ‘CH’. The same applies to the letter ‘S’ with one plain and the other with the squiggle (Ş) pronounced ‘SH’.
We also have what look like duplicate vowels but are actually hard and soft, like the letters ‘G’ (hard) and ‘Ğ’ (soft). The same applies to ‘I’ & ‘İ’, ‘O’ & ‘Ö’ and ‘U’ & ‘Ü’. The hard pronounced as normal and the soft? Well, so soft they are silent. As an example, the word ‘Gül’ meaning ‘Rose’ has the soft ü in the middle so would be pronounced ‘GL’ as opposed to our sea’gull’
The word for language here is ‘Dil’ which is also the word for ‘Tongue’. Ah, there’s another one you will already know from ‘Dill’ the herb.
Shops you may find on a Turkish high street, which are always good for a laugh and can be found in many a tourists photo album are:
‘Arçelik’ and ‘Ufuk’ (Keep in mind the lessons above and you will see these are not rude at all!)
‘Arçelik’ is actually a nationwide chain and the brand name of top quality electronic goods and ‘Ufuk’? Well that just means ‘Horizon’.
Talking to a girlfriend and calling her ‘chick’ means you are telling her to leave (çık).
Ask for a cot, perhaps in the hotel and you will have just asked for a pair of jeans (Kot).
Maybe you want your food in a ‘dish’ instead of on a plate. If so, your food could be served up in a tooth! (Diş).
Diş is also an abbreviation of the word for ‘outside’ and is lazily used instead of ‘Dişarı’
When it comes to the sexes, as a ‘boy’, you are now ‘size’ and relate to clothes and stature.
One of my favourites, the word ‘Top’; this is the word for ball, as in bouncing ball, or a cannon or globe so basically round things. However, it is also ‘argo’ (slang) and is used for the word ‘gay’. If you live in the UK, think about that the next time you wander into a branch of ‘Top Man’.
And lastly, my name. On meeting new people, this has been a fun filled five minutes of confusion, until of course I learned the language.
Let’s say the other person is called Ayse. The conversation goes something like this:
Ayse: senin adı ne? (What is your name?)
Ayse : sen (you)
Ayse, (now looking at the mad woman in frustration) Yok, Sen! (No, you)
Me, pointing at myself: Kym
Ayse: Sen Kym mı? (You’re Kym?)
Me, nodding my head; Evet, benim adım Kym (yes, my name is Kym)
Much laughter ensues, normally accompanied by ‘Allah Allah’ or two. Why? Well here in Turkey ‘Kım’ means ‘Who’.
For now I will say ‘Hoşçakal’ and ‘Kendine İyi bak’ to you. If you would like to know what this means, why not have a play around with Google translator and see what you come up with.