Sunday, October 25, 2009

In case you happen to not spend 7 hours a day studying Turkish...

...I will fill you in here on what its all about.

The Turkish alphabet has 8 vowels (A E I İ O Ö U Ü ) and 21 consonants. The letters Q,W and X do not exist in Turkish. Most letters are pronounced pretty much as you would expect, but some are not. Once you know the pronouciation of all letters though, it is pretty easy to pronounce any word you see or to spell (yay!) any word one hears -unless it is of an unworldly length. The following letters require explanation:

Cc = "J" as in "judge" ( can= life, soul, pronounced like "John" )

Çç = "ch" as in "church"( çay= tea, pronounced "chay", rhymes with "buy" )

Ğ ( yumuşak ge [soft g] Never appears as the first letter in a word; essentially silent; sometimes lengthens preceding vowel; (dag =mountain, pronounced daa)

lı( undotted "i" ) "u" as in "radium" or "i" as in "cousin" (ışık =ligth, ırmak = river )

İi( dotted "i" ) ="i" as in "sit" ( bir = one, pronounced like "beer" )

Öö German "ö" as in "König" or French "eu" as in "peur"( göl = lake, rhymes with furl)

Şş="sh"as in "ship" (şey = thing, pronounced "shey" , rhymes with "hay")

Üü German "ü" as in "für" or French "u" as in "tu" (gül = rose)

The Ö and Ü I am always getting wrong, and along with the ğ are probably the hardest letters in this language. I have yet to be understood when I try to say the word çöp, meaning trash.

Turkish belongs to the Turkic branch of the Altaic language family. Turkish, the language of modern Turkey, is spoken by about 60 million people. Turkish formerly used the same alphabet as Arabic, but has been written in the Latin alphabet since 1928.
As an Altaic language, Turkish has virtually nothing in common with English or other Indo-European languages except for some loan words.

Turkish grammar is extremely complex- but has rare exceptions. It has multiple tenses, I believe this is all of them- past, reported past, present progressive, future, past present, and geniş zamana (english name, I dont know). The word order is SOV- subject, object, verb. In English 'I went to the sea' but in turkish it would be 'I sea to went' or 'Ben denize gittim'.

Two Identifying features of Turkish : (1) vowel harmony (vowels within a word follow certain patterns, matching each others sounds in a rythmn) and (2) agglutination (addition suffixes to words.)

So in Turkish often instead of saying a phrase, you have one root with multiple suffixes attached to create one word saying the same thing it would take multiple words in English to say.
For example- hatırlayacaksam means 'İf I can remember later'.
With the use of suffixes, also often, extremely long words are created. For example- the longest word in Turkish-
Yeah. THATS A WORD. It means Like you are from those we could not make easily a maker of unsuccessful ones.

Some basic words in Turkish are-

Merhaba\selam- Hello

nasılsın(ız)\iyi misin(iz)\ne yapıyorsun(uz)\naber- How are you

iyiyim\iyilik\fena değil- response to how are you

evet\hayır- Yes\no. ( No can also be said by flicking your head up and clicking quickly).

teşekkür ederim\sağol- thank you

anladım\anlamadım- I understand\I dont understand- one of my favorites.

var\yok- there is\ there isnt- I have\ I dont have.

ne kadar- how much.

çok güzel- very beautiful, used to describe anything you think is good.

allaha allah- probably the most common word used, meaning god.

Afiyet Olsun- the 2nd most common word said in Turkish- which does not have a direct english translation, but along the lines of enjoy your food.

doğru mu- is this true? I use this all the time after saying something very complicated in turkish and I want to know if I spoke correctly or not.

Right now I spend all my time at school and evenings studying grammar, learning new words, practicing by holding conversations, or attempting to read childrens books. Becoming fluent in this language has evolved in a mission for me, that I attack with the determination as if it were a matter of life or death. Good news- if you speak slowly and use a fairly regular vocabulary, I can pretty much understand what your saying!!

I am hoping one day (soon!) I can master this difficult language...ama, tabi, inşallah. (but, of course, god willing).

xoxo, Amber.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Turkish life in an American body- an update of the past 3 weeks.

After I posted my last blog, my school, determined to make adapting as hard as possible, moved me into a different class than the one I had been attending for the first week. It was like the first day all over again- extreme amounts of attention I didnt want. But now, I have been going to school for three weeks. Hard to believe I know. Ive adapted to my class and I am now thankful for that miserable attention in the beggining, because now I know many people, from all different classes and grades. I go out with a different group of kids every weekend, to cafes or movies or the sea.
As far as class goes- I have maths (advanced algerbra and geometry) as well as Turkish lit., Turkish language, Otoman history, German, English, Art, Religion, Health, National security, and a whole 7 hours of geograghy. Because I cant understand the teachers lectures though, I generally study turkish. Right now I am reading chidrens books. One of my teachers gave me homework to write an essay on Turk-America and Nato and why its important. Im lucky he gave me three months to complete it!
School culture note- At the begining of class when the teacher walks in we all stand. Like a lioness, proud and powerful, they say good morning no matter the time of day. We then all together say thank you. When speaking to the teacher during class you stand unless the teacher says you may sit. But, even with these formalities the atmosphere is a friendly one-much more friendly than schools in the US. The teachers call us 'friends' instead of students and sometimes they come sit next to you on the small wooden benches.

At home, I have reached the home sweet home phase. Although sometimes school is still new and strange, at home I couldnt be happier.I look forward to coming home every night and enjoying a family dinner and then tea time. Sometimes we get a little off task- one night ended in a sing and dance a-thon. Birsen and Ali were singing traditional and gypsy songs from different regions in Turkey- real music. The sounds of people and generations- music that is never recorded or downloaded onto an ipod. Other times we begin talking discussing Turkish or American politics over some delicious Turkish delight. Other times religion. Its facinating to learn the simularity of beliefs between us although we come from two different worlds.

There are some things about Turkey I am falling in love with. The old man with a small radio on top of his cart of simits every morning, trying to make a living. The steep, narrow cobble stone streets and the way they flood when it rains. A kiss on each cheek and a hug on each side when saying hello or departing. The exhilirating feeling of having a conversation completely in Turkish, the words just coming out of your mouth without thought,feeling like they arent your own words, but something completely new. It all feels a little like a dream. The surrealness of being here has yet to leave me. I dont think I will ever be able to travel to a country, and be just a visitor again. You cant see the country until you see it from its peoples balconys, from their dinner tables, in their language.
During one of the past weeks we also took a spontaneous day trip tp Ephesus. Ephesus is an accient city, its history mixed and confussed in Greek myths, which biblical charchters such as Paul taught at, and many wars have changed its owners over and over. The cream colored buildings against the blue blue sky was stunning. I could almost see its long gone people, walking through the streets, on their way to the temples, the library, or the hamam. When I found ancient Greek writing carved into the walls,I think my hand may have begun to shake.The history of that place was alive, and the stories those words tell, I can only imagine. Later, we went to the final home of the Virgin Mary.

Life continues in Turkey.
Yes- Life. I learn a little more Turkish each day, figure out how to get to a new place by myself, make friends, I am even picking up Turkish body language and a Çanakkale accent- plainly, Im adapting. Im working through each days problems,and maybe one day, Ill even be able to function like a normal person. A life is begining to form, and along with it a person. The Amber that lived in America is a completely different from this half developed person who lives in Turkey. Its weird to think these two people, citizens of two different worlds, inhabited\inhabit the same body.

Lots of love,

Culture note-
İve been noticing the amount of consumption of products in America. An example- I have a package of hair elastics that I bought in America. Last night Sude would not stop questioning me on why I had so many, why I would need so many etc. Here I think you buy them individually. Another example is when I bought three pens at the store, Sude had the same reaction.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Back To School

This week I have began school. With the school year, a whole new set of problems is presented. The first day was something else. Awful really, actually. They had the national news there and I was shoved around with officals, forced to pose for photos, and even was interveiwed IN TUKISH! haha. The school put on a dance show for us and everything. Im a pretty big deal here because I am the 2nd exchange student they have ever had. If there wasnt a big sign around my head saying new kid already- there was certianly by the end of the day. It was all terribly mortifying. Up there with some of my worst moments. The next day I plainly did not want to go. I found myself doing something I never thought I would- missing East High!
In my desperation I talked to my brother, and he said something that really stuck. Being here is my chance to not only learn about Turkish culture, learn a new language etc, but to learn what is most important to me. A oppurtunity for personal revelation. He also said it is a chance to learn who I am really am. When you remove your school, your friends, and your family, all things we rely on to define us, you are left with you, in the purest form. Im looking forward to these lessons- and have actually already experienced a good amount of them. He ended the conversation with go get the world. Thats exactly what Im going to do- go get the world!
Each day I go to school and it gets a little better. Im actually begining to really enjoy it. I already have a great group of friends. Everyone has been extremely nice and welcoming. They love helping me with my turkish, and Ive even gone out with them a few times. We go to cafes along the sea and have coffee and play scrabble. hahah, it really helps me learn more Turkish vocabulary.
As far as education in Turkey compared to in America- First of all you chose a focus. If you chose forgien language, you take almost all forgien language classes. Same goes for math, science, etc. Then you have a class that have your same focus. Your class has one room, and your teachers come to you. You stay together all through high school. This week I do not have a class, so I have just been going to the forgien language one. 11-H. We only have 7 students, but most classes have about 30. The teachers teach in a very lecture style. They just come in- talk for 40 minutes, and then leave. No homework as far as I can tell, your just expected to go home and study on your own until you understand. At the end of high school there is an exam called the ÖSS. This decides what and if you go to college. Its pretty much like dooms day, and the older you get, the more you study. Most 12th graders go to school after school and on saturdays and sundays too, to prepare. On Mondays and Tuesdays we have schooll until 430, but the rest of the days 330. Our lunch is an hour long. Unlike the US, where if your teacher cant come, you have a sub, here you have free lesson. Or basicly time to go or do whatever you want. This week our teachers have been really busy with this European Union school sharing project that I was a part of on the first day, so we almost never have lessons. Maybe 2 out of the 8 or 9 you would usually have. Today we went down town for lunch and shopping because we had no lessons. Also when I have a free lesson I can go to the art room. One thing I love about this school,in comparision to East, is the Art program. The art teacher here is GREAT, and is allowing me to come work in the room on oil paintings etc, whenever I want.
Im adapting and finally getting moved in and making friends and improving with Turkish, still I miss you all like crazy.
You are all in my thoughts, Amber.