Learning Languages – Turkish #1

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May 16, 2010 by jessperriam

Learning languages over coffee

I’m continuing on my journey of cramming a few essential phrases for my overseas trip.

Yesterday, I learnt my first five essential phrases in Egyptian Arabic. Without looking back at that post or my phrasebook, I can say, ahlan wa sahlan (hello) and ismee Jess (my name is Jess, which my friend said he wanted someone called Mario to say that. What can I say? Children of the 80s…). I can yell out for a taksi! (taxi) and I can also express my disgust for neskafay (instant coffee).

So today I made myself a coffee and settled in for a half an hour learning Turkish.

I had my first impressions of Turkish through SBS. The multicultural broadcaster with the best slogan ever (Six billion stories and counting…) airs the Turkish news. I have to admit I had a bit of a giggle. It does sound like someone’s playing a vinyl record backwards, with none of the nasty connotations. But I went from giggling to horror in two seconds when I realised that I would have to try and understand and speak this language.

The good news? It looks easier on paper – there are a few words that look slightly borrowed from English or French. The language also has a very interesting history.

So here my five Turkish phrase for today.

1. Hello – merhaba

Only three syllables to say hello! No, I’m not being facetious. The pronunciation of this word mirrors French pronunciations rather than English. I imagine saying mair-ha-ba rather than merr-ha-ba.

2. My name is Jess – Benim adım Jess

Looks easy, right? But you see that character in the second word that looks like an ‘i’ but isn’t? Well… it isn’t an ‘i’. I’m not sure what the character is called but it makes an ‘uh’ sound. But once that’s kept in mind, it’s a rather simple phrase to remember.

3. One return ticket to Goreme, please – Göreme,  gidiş dönüş bir bilet lütfen

I get the strangest feeling, I may need to practise this one a few times. The cedillas on the ‘s’ make a different sound than a cedilla on a ‘c’ in French.  That’s just a piece of trivia, really. In Turkish the cedilla makes a ‘ssh’ sound.

So phonetically, that phrase sounds much like: Ger-reem, ghee-dish, due-newsh beer bee-let, lewt-fenn.

Yep, and there’s that reference to playing a vinyl record backwards. And if you’re wondering why I didn’t put the taxi phrase in there? It’s identical to Arabic.

4. Yes and no – Evet and hayır

There’s that ‘uh’ letter again. Other than that, it’s all fairly self-explanitory.

5. I’d like a coffee, please – Kahve istoyorum, lütfen

The one thing I love about coffee, apart from the beverage itself is the fact that the name doesn’t change much over different languages.


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