Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ben Türkçe yavaş öğreniyorum (I'm learning Turkish slowly)

Sometimes I feel like I don’t know any Turkish. I try to communicate with people and after I introduce myself and tell them that I am from America there is not much more that I can say. However, I am doing better it just takes me a long time to form sentences. I know past, simple present, and future tense. However, because it is a suffix language some of the words turn out being ridiculously long. “Siz koşmayacak mısınız?” Is, “Are you not going run?” “Siz” is the formal “You.” “Koşmak” is the verb “to run” but when you conjugate it you take off the “mak.” Then the “ma” is negative which you have to pick “a” or “e” depending on the vowel that comes before it and because “koş” has an “o” then you use “a” for “ma.” Then the “y” is to separate the two vowels because you can not have them next to each other. The “acak” is the future tense suffix which can also change to “ecek” depending again on the vowel that comes before it. The “mı” is the question form and the “sınız” is the ending for the formal “you.” As you can see this can get really complex really quickly and is difficult to remember when talking with native speaking Turks who speak SO fast. One of my Turkish friends says that he will no longer speak English with us but when he speaks Turkish it sounds like a completely different language because it is so fast! I tell him, “yavaş, yavaş” which is “slowly, slowly.” When he doesn’t slow down I speak really fast in English and he can not understand. He understands a little of what I’m going through so he slows down in Turkish.

Even though I get frustrated I had a wonderful experience yesterday. It was raining and so I went in to a café. I noticed right when I sat down that it was very expensive so I just ordered tea politely in Turkish. “Bir tane çay alabilir miyim?” Then after he brought me one he asked me where I was from, “Nerelisin?” I responded in Turkish that I am American, “Amerikalıyım.” Then he said that my Turkish was very good, “Türkçe çok güzel.” I worked on homework for a while and drank another çay. When I was ready to go I asked for the bill “hesap lütfen.” He said “yok” or there was no bill. I was confused and so I asked again. He said no again and I realized that they were not going to charge me for my tea. I said thank you! “teşekkürler!” and told him to have a good day “iyi günler.” I couldn’t believe that I had sucessfully spoken entirly in Turkish and that they gave me free tea. It was great!

The pictures are from my trip to Mersin. It is on the south coast of Turkey and one of my Turkish friends lives there. It was so warm and beautiful there. It was a nice relaxing trip and I am so glad that I was able to go somewhere for a weekend.


  1. Ah, Bethany, it brought a little tear to my eye as I read your account of the complications of a new language, native speakers speaking too quickly, and then imagining you sitting in the shop, drinking (free!) tea, studying, and using Turkish. What a great story! Thanks for sharing it with all of us. You are the best!
    Much love to you,

  2. I'm from Turkey's neighboring country , Iran. I've recently been in Turkey for a week. It was a wonderful contry to explore, especially Istanbul. As there are lots of words entered into Turkish from Farsi, our langauge, learning Turkish is not hard, though I faced with minor difficulties to get myself understood fully, knowing some Turkish phrases helped me alot such as Ne kadar, Ne kadar Zaman, Nerededir.
    I bought a book in Istanbul, by which I can learn Turkish and speak the next time I go to Turkey :-)
    Hope you enjoy your stay in turkey.