Kisa Boutique

trust your wanderlust

Learning a language...

Embracing abroad, Language, Travelemily kisa6 Comments

This photo is from a trip to the Black Sea coast, a remote spot close to Amasra and Bartin. Çok güzel!

A few years ago I decided to write one of those "Things to do before you die lists", or more positive way to think about it...What I want to do in my life. On the list I added "Learn a language" and now here I am living it...really forced to learn Turkish if I want to have a fulfilled life while living here and it is hard! I slowly learn more daily. As anyone who has tried to learn a language knows it is easier to understand more than to speak. I think I need to enroll in another course...

I found an interesting article in Today's Zaman by Charlotte Mcphereson, "Do you seem to be in a language rut?" The full article link HERE. Below is a description of what it is like to learn Turkish and a funny poem so you don't forget just how difficult English is...

Let's just briefly compare two languages: English and Turkish. The Turkish language is regular, with very few exceptions to the rules and only one irregular verb (the verb to be). The sentence construction is opposite to English, e.g. school to go I. Turkish uses agglutinative suffixes: endings added to a stem word to make a longer word. The English sentence "It appears that he said he would be unable to come" is just 2 words in Turkish! There are no grammatical genders. The pronouns he, she and it are all the same. In understanding the culture it is important to understand the special reported tense: a Turk will make a distinction between a fact which they know because they have witnessed it themselves and a piece of information which they have heard, or deduced, and are passing on to you secondhand or implied.

Turkish is a phonetic language, with every written letter being pronounced the same way no matter in which word it appears. The language displays vowel harmony. This means that the endings change so that if a word contains back vowels (a: undotted i-o-u) the ending will do the same, and if a word contains a front vowel (e: dotted i-o with an umlaut, u with an umlaut) the ending will do the same. This gives Turkish a melodic flow. The emphasis is on the last syllable, except for place names (second) and negatives (syllable before the negative).

The Turkish language has fewer words than English and is not rich in synonyms. Sometimes when an English speaker wants to express himself he may not find a word in Turkish that means the same (or his translator may struggle!).

How about English?

Why is English so hard?

We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes;

But the plural ox should be oxen, not oxes.

The one fowl is goose, but two are called geese;

Yet the plural for moose should never be meese.

You may find a lone mouse or a whole lot of mice;

But the plural of house is houses not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,

Why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?

The cow in the plural may be cows or kine,

But the plural of vow is vows, not vine.

And I speak of a foot and you show me your feet,

But I give you a boot -- would a pair be called beet?

If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,

Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?

If the singular is this and the plural is these,

Should the plural of kiss be nicknamed kese?

Then one may be that, and three may be those,

Yet the plural of hat would never be hose.

We speak of a brother, and also the brethren,

But though we say mother, we never say methren.

The masculine pronouns are he, his, and him,

But imagine the feminine she, shis, and shim!

So our English, I think you will all agree,

Is the trickiest language you ever did see!

(Anonymous poem, quoted from "Learning a Foreign Language" by Eugene Nida.)

No language is totally logical and regular but after just looking at the irregularities in English plurals, Turkish is looking fairly simple with just "ler" and "lar"!

Any attempt made by a foreigner to speak will be greeted with delight, especially by Turkish friends. If you are living in Turkey, don't fall into a rut. Try to learn at least survival Turkish and more to really share your heart!