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Turkish Euphemisms

Several months ago, the Turkish advertising world was turned

upside-down when the FINDIK TANITIM GRUBU aired a
humorous TV ad in which they touted their product (hazelnuts) by
using an
invented, new Turkish euphemism.
Euphemism -- a mild, indirect, or vague expression used
in place of a more direct, explicit, or offensive one.
Like: rest-room or water-closet for toilet...

We hesitated to bring it to your attention at the time,

not because of its naughty overtones,
but because we feared it might be a 'flash in the pan'.
Well, it's clear now that it's here to stay -the TV ad-campaign expanded to include the print medium,
a second TV ad has now been aired,
and there are more in the works.
So, we won't hold back any longer!
Right click the image to 'View' an enlargement...

Starting in the middle of the picture, the ad says:

"A handful of hazelnuts every day is good for you."
Then continuing under the picture...
"They're good for high-blood pressure, for cholesterol, for anemia,
for sleeplessness, they give energy, make the skin youthful,
strengthen bones and teeth and besides that...[they give you]

sexual potency!"
ah-gah-nee-ghee nah-gah-nee-ghee
March 2000

The wrong and, the right ands

We don't know about you, but early in our Turkish-language
learning-experience, we got hooked on using the Turkish 've' to
mean the English 'and' -- at almost every opportunity.
Oh, yes...we do remember, vaguely, something in our text-books
about the '-Ip' suffix and the stand-alone 'da' -- but why should we
worry about them when 've' was available, and so easy for us to
understand and use? Well, here's what one of our favorite Turkishlanguage advisors, Deniz SarIz, has to say on the subject:

"Something I am really anal about is the

pathological overuse of the word 've' in Turkish,
which is considered a substitute for the English word 'and' -due to the frequency of non-Turkish movies on TV with
very very bad translations.
More often than not,
'and' would translate better to Turkish as
'da' or 'de' or as '-Ip, -ip, -up, -p' -according to the rule of vowel harmony.
For instance, in the example,
'Mektubu a ve okuyalIm.'
(Open the letter and let's read it)...
it would be so much more natural
to replace the 've' in the sentence with 'da'."
What Deniz (a native Trk) must mean is that it's
so much more natural for native Trks to do that!
(He hasn't thought about us poor non-natives -who don't find much that's natural about the Turkish language at all.)

But nevvvermind, his point is well taken. Because, we sure hear 'da'
and 'Ip' (and 'ile', by the way) here in the Turkish streets (and in Turkish
radio and television programming) a lot more than we hear 've'.
So if you too would like a simple and effective way to sound better
in Turkish, then cast out the unnatural-sounding 've' (wherever you
can) -- in favor of the native-sounding 'da', 'Ip', and 'ile'...
All of the 've' variations adhere strictly to
the rule of vowel harmony
as shown:
1) da, de
2) -Ip, -ip, -up, -p
3) ile, -la, -le
Remember, though, that 'ile', '-la', and '-le' are also
commonly used as prepositions (postpositions)
meaning 'with' or 'by'. So we need to be careful not to
confuse 'ile', the conjunction, with 'ile', the preposition,
as we translate...
-- see examples three thru seven, below --

1) Btn o problemleri unut da zevkine bak.
To translation
2) Her seferinde aynI sey, suu kendi isler, kolayca kardesinin
stne yIkIp zeytinyagI gibi ste IkardI.
To translation
3) Dogu ile (or Doguyla) BatI arasInda uzlasma var.
(There is rapproachment between East and West.)

4) izmir'e uak ile gidiyorum.

(I'm going to Izmir by plane.)
5) izmir'e uakla gidiyorum.
(I'm going to Izmir by plane.)
6) izmir'e otobs ile gidiyorum.
(I'm going to Izmir by bus.)
7) izmir'e otobsle gidiyorum.
(I'm going to Izmir by bus.)

Turkish Palindromes
We know you know a palindrome when you see one in English...
It's a phrase or sentence that's spelled the same way,
backwards and forwards,
A man, a plan, a canal, Panama!

But would you have spotted the following

Turkish palindrome on your own
-- over breakfast next Sunday, as you scanned your Turkish newspaper --

without a little help from your friends here at LPT ???

Ey edip Adanada pide ye!

Hey, go on -- and eat a Turkish pizza in Adana!
Courtesy: Ertan KKYALIN, March 2000

Out-loud Word Spelling in Turkish

When you want to get rid of that pesky IRS agent who
keeps calling at your door, how do you do it?
Well, if you're like us,
you crank up the voice a notch and shout,
S as in Scaramouche,
C as in Concertina,
R as in Rhubarb,
A as in Albatross,
M as in Mayonnaise...
But if you're Turkish, you have to know your
Turkish city names or else you'll be in,
Trabzon'un Te'si,
Rize'nin Re'si,
Ordu'nun O'su,
Urfa'nIn U'su,
Bursa'nIn Be'si,
Lleburgaz'In Le'si,
Edirne'nin E'si...
So if you need to, say, spell your foreign-sounding surname to a
Turkish-speaking someone, over the phone...
you'll be better understood if you can imitate this
method (as best you can) -if not with Turkish city names, then with
any Turkish words that come to mind!

Well-known Language School(s) in Turkey

Want to combine your next vacation with some 'Total Immersion'
Turkish Language practice?
If so, we've got the in-country school for you...
Language School(s) in Izmir/Istanbul/Ankara
Tmer Language School
Istanbul: (90) (212) 230-7083
Ankara: (90) (312) 434-3090
If you call Istanbul: Ask to speak with Arzu, if she's still there.
Turkish phone numbers work just like American ones:
Country code for Turkey is 90.
The area code is 212 for Istanbul...
and the rest, 230-7083, is the local Istanbul number.
In winter, spring, and fall the classes run 2 months. That's the
'standard program'.
Condensed classes are held in the summer.
Starting June 30, Tmer offers 4 week programs.
Classes run thru September (meeting 5 days a week).
20 hours/wk. $240.00 Total for 4 weeks
30 hours/wk. $360.00 Total for 4 weeks

Warning...The Tmer classes aren't for everyone. One LPT

site visitor commented: "I have taken an intensive 4-week with
Tomer in Istanbul, and will never do it again; I learned a lot, but the
teaching style was a bit . . .well, mean, actually. All of the English
speakers opted out of the second 4-week phase because it was so
brutal in style -- but for some reason the (un-named country)
contingent thrived in that atmosphere!"

Another Izmir/Istanbul/Ankara lead -not as good as Tmer...

"The English Fast International Language School"
[They also take on students learning Turkish.]

(90) (212) 2250210

Course Schedule and Pricing is up to you...
[They also have a branch office in Izmir -- just across from the Izmir Bay (232425-5137).]

More 'Educational News'...

A few weeks ago (speaking in March 2000), in the English-language 'Turkish
Daily News' -- we saw an ad for a language training school in Istanbul called
International House. And the ad specifically says, "looking for EFL teachers,
part or full time." They go on to say... "Degree and CELTA essential. Please
contact Doris Leach or Sandra Wilding. Phone (90) 212-282-9064 [or 9065] Fax
(90) 212-282-3218. E-mail: karizma_ltd@turk.net"
Above, the (90) is Turkey's country code and (212) is an Istanbul area code...

How Turks Learn English Pronunciation

Phonetics 101

Note: The following tidbit was published in the Turkish daily Newspaper Sabah.
It's author had his tongue firmly planted in his cheekle cavity.
We translate and paraphrase...
Remembering how to pronounce "Fish" in English
When he looks at the spelling of the English word 'fish' a Turk's instinct is to
pronounce the word as "feee-sh". To help himself remember the correct
pronunciation, he must memorize the character sequence 'ghoti'. After that, he
simply needs to remember to pronounce the 'gh' as in the English word 'tough', the
'o' as in the English word 'women', the 'ti' as in the English word 'nation' -- and
there you have it. F - I - SH...
Thanks to H. Ulu 1997

Phonetics 102
These next two come from a Turkish friend -- who swears he used them as
crutches when he first started learning English. Do we believe him? Well, we
haven't made up our minds yet. Anyway he says...
As an English language pronunciation exercise, I used to repeat two phrases to
myself over and over. The first one was, "I run each team". And the second was,
"Why high, one why?".
But to help me pronounce the phrases correctly, I'd say the Turkish phrases "Ayran
itim" and "Vay hayvan vay?" -- which gave me a close approximation of the
sounds I wanted, though the syllable accenting wasn't very good.
The first Turkish phrase means, "I drank Ayran" -- Ayran being a national drink of
ours made from yogurt. The second one means, "Oh! animal oh!". And I'm not
kidding, these phrases got me going -taking my first baby steps in English!
Courtesy YS, May 1997

Bad Sign Language

A OK is not ok

Don't use this hand signal in Turkey...

(or anywhere in Europe, for that matter)

If you're American, it's probably safest to leave all your tried and

true American hand-signals at home...Most of them don't translate

well on this side of the Atlantic. If you can't figure out why, write us.
We'll tell ya' a story...

And don't prop your feet up and point your soles at the Turkish person you are
talking to. No one is likely to say anything to you, but they'll mark you down as a
bad mannered boob.

One other thing...Don't praise children

to their parents -- unless you remember to saymaasallah (mah-shala), before and after you do your gushing. It wards off the evil spirits
who may be listening -- and that Turks don't like to tempt...

There are a few more such behavioral recommendations.Do drop us a line, if

you're interested...

Uses of 'Efendim'
To be respectful -- and uh...

Yes, the word is 'Efendim' (pronounced as it looks) and it's used when Turkish speakers
answer the phone. In that case it has the effect of saying "Hello" -- in a very
respectful (polite) manner. It literally means "my master".
It has another use, too...as a meaningless filler -- when you are speaking and you
are in mid-sentence and you need to pause for some reason. Maybe you want to
take a breath, maybe you momentarily forget the next word you want to use...
For example...In English, we might speak a sentence like, "Yesterday was the first
day of, uh, October." [We said 'uh' because we momentarily forgot which month it
was.] In Turkish, in place of the 'uh' -- you'd hear 'Efendim', if the speaker was
being polite...[And if he wasn't being polite? Well, you'd problee hear "uhhh" -- just like us!] And the
complete spoken-Turkish sentence might look something like:
Ne sylesem efendim...Dn Ekimin birinci gn, efendim...;
How can I say this, uhhh...Yesterday was the first day of October, uhhh...
BTW -- If the Turkish speaker of the above sentence is being especially refined,
he'll even eliminate the 'd' sound. So, if he's really outto smooth-talk you, you'll
only hear "Efenim" .
[Note: Elimination of the 'd' is only done in this instance -- with 'uhhh' replacement. The full word, "Efendim"
is used in all other cases mentioned in this article.]

And yet another use...If you ask a polite Turk a question, and she doesn't hear or
understand you well enough, she will reply, "Efendim?" -- meaning, "I'm sorry, I
didn't hear you well. Could you repeat please?"
One final use...If you enter a room and call out the name of your polite Turkish
friend, he will turn to you with a smile and say, "Efendim..." -- meaning, "Yes, I'm
here. You've got my attention. I'm ready to listen to your next words..."
Based on ideas from T August '97

Turkish Tipoffs
#1 An 'iffy' Proposition
We are going to make a bold statement now [and risk the ire of all three
of our regular native-Turkish site-visitors].
Here goes...The Turkish word eger does not mean 'if' -- as every bilingual dictionary and grammar booksays it does.
It means nothing at all, zip, zero -- by itself...It's just a tipoff that a
conditional 'if ' statement is on the way -- coming up, right around
the corner, somewheredown the line...
The good news is that, if you see or hear it (and usually it'll be the first
word in a sentence or be found immediately following a comma near the start of
the sentence), you can be sure that the sentence you find it in, is in fact
a conditional 'if ' sentence --such as...

Eger hava gzel olursa gezmeye IkarIz;

If the weather becomes nice, we'll go out for a walkaround.

The bad news is that a sentence need not begin with eger -- in order
for the sentence to be a perfectly good and legitimate conditional 'if
' sentence. For example...
Daha yavas konusursan, daha iyi anlayabilirim;
If you speak more slowly, I can understand you better.
I'd like to see the full conjugation of a verb in the conditional mood -including more examples without eger ?

So you'll be damn glad to see it in such sentences as -Eger Elvis Presley 1955'de Hound Dog'unu sylememis olsaydI
seks, uyusturucu, ve rock 'n roll lemini aynI ileri vaziyette
bulacagImIz pek spheli idi;
If Elvis Presley hadn't sung his Hound Dog in 1955, it is very doubtful whether we
would find [today's] world of sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll -- in the same advanced
[At least that's what our granny told us.]

Now we're goin' out on a limb...You will never see or hear eger by itself -- in any
correct Turkish sentence. It must always be coupled with the conditional suffix,
that begins with se or sa which you'll find attached to some verb --coming up,
right around the corner, somewhere down the line...
Eger verdiginiz szde durmazsanIz ok kt olur;
If you don't keep your promise, it'll be very bad.
Incidentally, our All Turkish-to-Turkish Dictionary defines eger as, "a word that is
placed at the beginning of a conditional sentence, for strengthening the
conditional purpose." It doesn't say the word has any meaning, at all...
Now why didn't the bilingual dictionaries and grammars explain it that way in the
first place? If they had done so, it would have saved us from developing the
[incorrect] habit of [incorrectly] using eger by itself in order to [incorrectly]
convey the 'if ' conditional meaning -- when we first started speaking Turkish
And, yes. Sometimes, we still [incorrectly] do it -because old habits die hard.
(There. D'ya feel better -- now that we've publicly humiliated ourselves?)

Turkish Tipoffs II -- The Sequel

'tIpkI' -- A preposition in it's own time...

Next on our list of tipoff words is tIpkI, which always appears at the
beginning of a phrase (including at the beginning of a phrase at the beginning
of a sentence) and which meansexactly like,just like, or same as.For
King Kong, tIpkI teki maymunlar gibi maymundur -- sadece
biraz daha byktr;
King Kong is a monkey just like any other monkey -- he's just a little bigger.

But, unlike eger (see An 'iffy' Proposition) which is always meaningless

(by itself), tIpkI is always meaningful -- either by itself or when it is
found coupled with its frequent partner-word, gibi.
[ gibi is a preposition too that, when it appears by itself, simply means 'like'. But notice -- in the King Kong
sentence above -- how gibi trails the phrase it belongs to...
So, strictly speaking it should be called a postposition, not a preposition, right?]

And when it does couple with gibi (as in the King Kong sentence),
tIpkI provides two functions -- in a manner somewhat similar to that of
1) It forewarns the coming of a phrase -- in this case a phrase in
which the similarity between one object(s) and another will be
established (for instance, between King Kong and another monkey).
And remember...this is a phrase that begins with tIpkI and ends with gibi, so these
phrase delimiters -- when you run across them -- can be very useful identifiers, to
help you parse and translate a Turkish sentence.

2) It reinforces or adds emphasis to the phrase it fronts. And when

tIpkI and gibi appear together in a phrase, it is tIpkI that
emphasizes how very alike one object(s) is to the other -- giving the
sense that object A (King Kong) is exactly like or just like object B
(any other monkey). This is a stronger statement than, object A
(King Kong) is [merely] like B (another monkey).
Other Examples:
Using tIpkI and gibi together...

Kral Arthur [kafasIna] bir abajur yine giymis -tIpkI ksede oturan sihirbaz gibi;
King Arthur is wearing a lampshade [on his head] again -just like the sorcerer sitting in the corner.
[What happened to that fresh bottle of Whiskey, Mabel?]

Using tIpkI by itself...

Kral Arthur [kafasIna] bir abajur giymis -tIpkI Merlin;

King Arthur is wearing a lampshade [on his head] -exactly like Merlin.

Using gibi by itself...

Kral Arthur [kafasIna] bir abajur giymis -Merlin gibi;

King Arthur is wearing a lampshade [on his head] -like Merlin.
Weren't those last examples magical...?

Oh, BTW...The English-language debate about whether, "Winston tastes good, as

a cigarette should," or, "...like a cigarette should" -does not arise in Turkish.
A gibi is a gibi is a gibi
[with tIpkI acting as a gibi strengthener...]

Sluurrring in Turkish
That's right...We English speakers don't have a corner on the slurred speech
For example, in proper Turkish you would hear...
Bir ay ieyim, geliyorum;
I am coming [to visit]; so that I may drink a glass of tea [with you].
But in slurred Turkish speed-speech, this becomes...
Bi ay iem geliyom.
This is very colloquial (just like in English), but it is heard/seen frequently in
everyday speech -- and also in the dialogs of novels and stories.