Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Surreptitious Post During School Hours

Hi, everyone. I'm in school right now, so this is a short post. I'm still going to get the rest of those romance phrases, but I thought I'd go over reading Türkçe, mostly to teach myself, because although they use Latin script, it's bloody tricky to remember what all the accents and things mean, sound-wise. So, the ones I've figured out so far are ı, which is i without the dot (so I guess they dot their capital I's?). ı makes a schwa sound (ə). I am an ex-spelling bee nerd, which is why I know that. But that's old news, and we're onto a new language. In any case, a schwa makes this very neutral vowel sound, sort of like /uh/. There's also ş, which makes a /sh/ sound, as in beş (five). I have to figure out how to type that one... and finally, ç, which I found out the hard and embarrassing way does not sound in Türkçe as it does in French. It makes this superseksi /ch/ sound, and I'm going to start using the word çok (very) way too much, because it's so cool sounding. This picture is of the Yeni Mosque, one of the most famous sites in Istanbul. It's meant to be fabulously beautiful and I really, really want to see it. I don't know if my host family will be in Istanbul or Ankara, but I'm hoping I'll at least get to visit.

Quick bit of Turkish history: they didn't always use the Latin alphabet. I think it was in 1922, after the Ottoman empire stopped existing, Atatürk decided that he was going to purify the Turkish language, which was until then using Arabic script and heavily influenced by arabic in terms of vocab. Or something. Anyway, he basically made up a latin-esque script and made it illegal to use anything else. I don't know how cool the Turkish people were with this, but I'm rather grateful that I don't have to learn a new alphabet.

Okay, so not such a short post after all. I was able to finish a test early. Whatever. Hey, news: Tomorrow after school, all the international students who stay in the dorms, mostly from China and Korea, are having a yard sale for all their amazing clothes so their luggage isn't way overweight when they go home for the summer! So, most of those girls are much smaller than me - I'm about five feet, eight - but I'm hoping to pick up something nice. Then, on Saturday, it's my little sister's bat mitzvah! Should be super fun! Have a nice weekend, everyone, as I probably won't have time between parties to post!

İyi günler (So I suppose they do dot those I's!)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Essential Beginning Phrases

Merhaba, guys. Post number two, and I'm getting better at this. I've added a poll and a couple ads for the amazing web charity, where I'm a lender because it's cool. It's a güzel day in Maine, just gorgeous and extremely hot and humid. Math class was outside, and I mostly talked to my teacher about Turkey while I should have been studying for the final. My Turkish phrasebook (it's Lonely Planet, in case you're weird and want to get one after my stunning description of all the funny/dirty parts in it) has a chapter called Social and a subsection that's labeled romance. I was reading this in English class, and very nearly gave myself away. This was because of how loudly I was snorting at the expressions the well-meaning staff at Lo-Plan predict I will find myself wishing to employ during my sojourn in the ex-Ottoman Empire. So, children, here are the phrases we'll be learning today in Türkçe:

Would you like a drink? Bir içki ister misiniz?
You have beautiful eyes. Ne kadar güzel gözleriniz var.
Do you want a massage? Sana masaj yapmamı ister misin?
Can I kiss you? Seni öpebilir miyim? (similarly, kiss me is öp beni)
I love you. Seni Seviyorum

Yeah... It gets way dirtier, but I'll get to those ones in my next post. Anyway, I was remarking upon abovementioned phrasebook to my friends as we sat on the grass pretending to practice solving functions or whatever (actually, I really, really like math. It makes me feel good, but it's hard on a day when all you want is a bathtub full of ice cubes and lemon slices) and I mentioned all the contraceptive phrases that this book has to my fellow strugglers-with-the quadratic formula. Somebody came up with a very good one : Get away from me, creep! I couldn't find that in the book, but piss off is defol! and leave me alone is Git başımdan. Never know, could be useful.

I'm listening to the tracks I took off the Turkish guy's iPod at the AFS orientation last weekend. He has some great Turkish music, mixed in with a lot of Black Eyed Peas. I'm sticking to the stuff I can't understand....yet!


Monday, May 24, 2010

Turkish Summer!

Merhaba! I applied for a State Department-run scholarship to study abroad called the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (, and I am going to Turkey to learn the language for six weeks of the coming summer. NSLI-Y selectively sends students for summers, semesters and academic years to various countries to learn Arabic, Korean, Hindi, Chinese, Russian, Persian and, in my case, Turkish (that's Türkçe to those who speak it). So, yes, it's basically a programme for training future US spies. But I am so excited. I don't yet know where in Turkey I will be, but I will stay with a Turkish family, attend language school four hours per week and have a LOT of fun. I can't decide if I'm more excited about the food or the language. Baklava! Kebabs! So many things I've never heard of... It will be wonderful. I hope to post fairly frequently leading up to my departure and while I'm there, with pictures if possible.

This weekend, I attended an AFS orientation. There were Americans who'll be spending time in places such as Germany, Panama, Belgium, Ghana, South Africa and Chile, and foreign students who will soon be going home to Thailand, China, Indonesia, Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic, Norway and a million other places I can't remember. There was one guy there from Turkey, and I talked to him a little. He comes from Istanbul, where he sleeps in Asia and goes to school in Europe. Honestly, is there anything cooler? And the orientation was just plain fun: along with all the rules and warnings that were expected, there was a talent show (I played my ukulele), a bonfire, a lake shore to hang around on and a lot of chatting. In short, I was excited before the orientation, but now I really can't wait.

So, I'll be in touch! Güle güle for now.