Learning Turkish

I love the whole experience.  The language is cool.  Our teacher, Hande, is adorable.  The class is even located in a great spot, Rincon Center in San Francisco.  We meet in a glass conference room jutting above the atrium.  Hande tries to converse with us about the weather, one floor above, and the public four floors below.  A sparkling day in March was Bugün hava çok güzel.  The next week, the answer to Bugün hava nasil? was yağmurlu.

 So you will know how I feel, as an illiterate,  I am not translating most of the Turkish I write here.

Some good news:  there are no genders in Turkish.  There are not a lot of grammatical exceptions.  The accenting is straightforward.  Roman letters are used, not Arabic script as it was pre-Atatürk.  There are many European loan words, like biyoloji, bisiklet, kaktüs, reservasyon…The Turkish alphabet has 29 letters, 23 of which we already know, and the remaining six are easy.  Music and food are great in Turkey, and the people are wonderful.

After that:  sentence construction does not resemble English. Sometimes it can be reverse of English, as in Istanbul’da köpek bakıcısı bulmak kolay mi?  The literal translation is: Istanbul in dog sitter to find easy is it?

We want to know the answer to this question because we are planning to take Lucy (our dog) and Rita (our cat) with us when we move to Istanbul at the end of this year, for two years, inshallah.

Inshallah is an Arabic word, meaning, “God willing”.  We are very aware that we don’t know the ending of this year, much less that of three years hence, but these are our plans.

We will need a dog sitter, because we want to travel within Turkey and the region.  Of course, our travel will be constrained by our ½ day Turkish lessons once we get there.

So, while I love this process, Hande, the classroom, the sound of Turkish, and even the way it is vaguely beginning to make some sense, my brain is exploding.  As I was digging into my Turkish homework for this week, and the textbook was taking us into vowel harmonies — of the “e” and “i” types,  and personal pronouns… complicated subjects that Hande has already broached with us…I hit a wall, one that seemed impossibly high at the moment.

I have the problem of not remembering – or maybe never knowing very well – English grammar.  Like, I had to look up what a preposition is…and when Hande talks about “present continuing tense”, I’m lost.  So, bilmiyorum – “I don’t know” – is really “know-not (or negative)-am knowing-I”.  This comes from my notes.  It might not be correct, although if I say “bilmiyorum”, I’m sure I’ll be understood.

Flexing my 60-year-old brain is a good thing.  I just hope I can untangle the knots I’m making in time to ask for kahvaltı when the time comes.

Before Jim and I arrive in Istanbul for our first reconnaissance trip in May, we need to get some more conversational phrases under our belts.  And, we need to learn how to construct sentences, so we won’t be mute bobble-heads, bouncing our smiling faces around, unable to speak.  🙂

Back to the homework.

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