Learning a new language and rethinking the old
Among the many pleasures of learning a new language is rethinking the meaning of words in your own language. As I wander back into the world of Turkish, I am reminded of this. I am especially interested in the reciprocal verbs, which we don’t really have in English. We have the word ‘hit’, for example, but we don’t have a single word for ‘hit each other.’ Below are some Turkish reciprocal verbs and their English equivalents, which hopefully show some of the ‘poetry’ that I see in the implied meanings behind the words.
bulmak = to find / buluşmak = to meet up with someone
In Turkish, adding a suffix like -uş makes the verb reflexive, so grammatically, buluşmak is ‘to find each other.’ This idea is really quite poetic compared to, “I’ll meet up with you later.” The idea behind it is, “We’ll find each other.” I imagine a crowd of people, and two good friends looking for each other with the assuredness that they will succeed.
tutmak = to hold / tutuşmak = to hold on to each other
A friend taught me this expression with tutuşmak:
Elele tutusmak = grammatically, ‘to hold on to each others’ hands’, meaning-wise, ‘to be going out as a couple’.
I rarely conjure the image of two people holding hands when someone says, “Oh, they’re going out now.” But why not? The Beatles song comes to mind – I Want To Hold Your Hand.
tanımak = to know a person / tanışmak = to meet a person
In the moment when two people meet, they come to know one another. Kind of nice.
anlamak = to understand / anlaşmak = to reach an agreement
Reaching an agreement means coming to understand each other. Again, nice. Poetic.