Turkish vocabulary notes = a pretty good journal
When I arrived in Turkey almost three weeks ago, I already spoke enough Turkish to get around and have familiar conversations. But there were, and still are, huge gaps in my vocabulary, especially since I am in Turkey in a new season for me (the fall-winter), doing things that I haven’t done here before (camping, climbing, hitchhiking, volunteering…), and of course meeting new people. My habit is to write down new words and phrases either in the evening or the next morning. Now, if I flip through my notebook, I notice that the vocabulary makes for a pretty good journal of new experiences.
For years, I thought North Americans were the only ones using pumpkins in desserts. Not so! Here there is kabak tatlısı, ‘pumpkin dessert’, made by stewing pumpkin, slathering it in tahini, and covering it in crushed walnuts. I find it delicious with strong coffee.
öksürük (a cough)
My friend Hasan developed a cold and a cough while I was in Izmir. One great thing about the medical system here is that you can explain your maladies to a pharmacist (it seems like there are two pharmacies per block) and buy medication on the spot, including antibiotics. The word öksürük is hard for me to pronounce, and I can always sneak around it by imitating a cough, but now if someone says it to me, I will probably remember.
Hasan and I went to three bookstores before we found a Turkish road map (Türkiye kara yollari haritasi – ‘Turkey black ways map’). Now I have a great one. This word is easy to remember, because it is paired in my mind with “Eureka!”, and the sound is similar.
I bought a second-hand phone because the phone I brought was not registered in Turkey–a new bureaucratic requirement. Unfortunately, the second-hand phone had an annoying habit of turning off and not turning back on. I fixed it once I realized the battery was şişmiş and just needed replacing.
After watching this make-your-own-stove video, I had to try. It worked like a charm, and only cost about 5 Lira, or $2.50 Canadian (2 Lira for the Uludağ soda, which tastes like gingerale, and 3 Lira for the bottle of espirto, which is like rubbing alcohol). Apparently ‘ocak’ is used for small stoves, and ‘soba’ (the word in my little dictionary and on Google Translate) is for larger wood-burning stoves and the like. I am still sorting this out. Ocak is also the word for January.
zeytinlik (olive grove)
On the drive east from Izmir to Antalya we passed through groves of oranges, mandarins, figs, pomegranates, and olives. I wondered about the word for ‘grove’ or ‘orchard’ only to find that it doesn’t exist. Instead, ‘olive grove’ is zeytinlik, or ‘olive-ness’ or ‘oliver-y’, you might say.
tırmanmak (to rock climb)
This is a relatively new sport in Turkey. When hitchhiking back to the climbing campground above Antalya I listened to a man describe everyone involved in this sport as ‘craaaazy’ (one English word that he did know). There are only a few Turkish climbers here at the campground, but we always ask each other in the shared kitchen, Bugün tırmandın mı? ‘Did you climb today?’
This one is easy to remember, because I know ‘chador’, the word used for the long head-covering cloak that women wear in Iran. I assume the two words have the same origin.