Turkish Lesson One

I finally crack open my Turkish grammar book on the plane to Turkey. A little late, sure, but I'm not able to think too far ahead these days, not even when the fact of my stepping onto Turkish soil was only a few hours away. Not too far ahead at all. In Puerto Natales, packing up and getting to Santiago occupied me. In Santiago, planning trips out of the smog and hunting for a summer wardrobe kept me busy. We hadn't slept four hours in two days. Suddenly after my glass-of-wine-with-dinner-and-Baileys-postre nap, I woke up in a panic.

Turkish lesson 1 / Türkçe Deris 1. Agglutination. Alphabet. Alfabe. Ahbayjay. Vowel harmony rule. This is my favorite and it's what makes Turkish so poetic. If the first syllable of a word (or better to say phrase because they can put entire thought sentences into a single word) begins with one vowel, the rest of the vowels are the same vowel or a vowel in the same family. (There are two vowel families: those that begin at the front of the mouth and those that begin at the back of the mouth; and there are 8 vowels: a, e, ı, i [dotted i], o, ö, u, ü). It makes logical sense if you think about it hard enough. But it's best not to think about it too much. More than logical sense, it makes sound sense, poetic sense.

My other fascination is with verbs. I don't understand them at all yet. But I know they come at the end of the sentence, at the end of the thought. It's a bit opposite of English, where in good prose the subject verbs its way through whatever situation. In Turkish, you start with the subject, then reveal all other relevant info. The verb ends it. Any peripheral info follows the verb. I'm not sure if this affects the culture at all, but I like to imagine that the actions are less rash. Not more rational necessarily. But the verb waits till she has all the info she needs to decide what her action will be. Is the tomato which is diced waiting to be cooked, tossed in a salad, plopped into the blender or rubbish bin, or winged at the tomato dicer's beloved?

So, yeah, I'm smack dab dropped in the middle of Turkish. I don't understand a thing. I can't read the signs or hardly pronounce what I see and every day I am amazed that I don't already know the word for... tuvalet, for example. It's mostly cool and sometimes tiring. The flight over helped ease me out of my comfort zone in Spanish. Not my language, but easy to manage. Santiago to Sao Paulo. Obrigado. Sao Paulo to Munich. Everyone speaks English at the airport, but you still don't know what to say to them on first approach. English? Spanish? Now Istanbul. I have lots of practice listening. We are staying with my boyfriend Serkan's sister's family for the first week, then off to the beaches and ancient cities. His sister is a minor miracle, one of the most warm, hospitable people on Earth. She speaks a little English and tries so hard to help me feel at home. Hos geldeniz.

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