Sunday, March 10, 2013

Winning the language battle one wrong word at a time

Speaking and understanding Turkish continues to be a battle. There are some days I feel like I'm winning; days when I speak to the baker and he speaks to me. I get the kind of bread in the amount I want and I manage to pay him the right amount of money the first time. We understand one another.  Other days, it doesn't go so well.

A while ago I got money out of the ATM and then went into the bank to change the 100 TL notes into something smaller. I used the phrase our "teacher/translator/guide" taught me - it means broken money. I got a queer look from the teller so I waved Cam over.  Between the two of us we were able to explain what we wanted using other words.

On the way home, using our Turkish/English dictionary, I discovered the problem. The word for broken is bozuk. Unfortunately the word buzuk (with dots over the u's) means "contacted, constricted, puckered, anus". So it would seem that shoddy pronunciation may have been the problem. No wonder the poor teller was puzzled by my request.

Yesterday, I went to the pharmacy in Gelibolu to see if I could buy the equivalent of Tinactin (for athletes' foot). I assumed that Turks would call what we commonly call athletes' foot something else, so before I left home, I carefully looked up the active ingredient. Then I used Google Translate to write down the symptoms of athletes' foot.

Into the pharmacy, I went with my handwritten note in English and Turkish.  The pharmacist read my note - looked up the active ingredient and sold me ... Tinactin! I still don't know what the Turks commonly call athletes' foot but at least I have the cure. Most people in Turkey with a university education speak good quality English, so it was likely possible to get the same result by asking in English, but it seems good manners to try to use their language.

We went out for supper afterwards.  The children all ordered in Turkish for themselves last night and were rewarded by the waiter with a big grin. So it was a good day.

1 comment:

  1. do not try to speak Turkish until you lear it well
    because Turkish language is like a rubber