• So, how is it going?
  • Communicating in Turkish? It’s like a dream. The cheapest entertainment I can imagine.

After I hang up, I was bummed out. I am failing at Turkish. Where did I go wrong? Before I started to learn Turkish, I had millions of problems. Now I have only one. Cheers to that!

In the movie titled ’Lost in translation,’ there was a brilliant scene with Bill Muray, where he was shooting a whiskey commercial. The Japenese director, who barely spoke any English, turned to Bill and gave him a long poetic and dramatic explanation (meaning: shouting constantly) for 10 minutes in Japanese.

Translator: Look in camera.

Bill Murray: That’s all he said?

Translator: Yes.

Bill Murray: Is that everything? He seemed like he said quite a bit more than that.

Translator: Just look in camera.

The translator was unable and unwilling to translate it to Bill. The confusion was as deep as the Mariana Trench. The director, Sofia Coppola never told the star actor what was being said in order to make his confusion more real.

This was pretty much how Istanbul made me feel in the first weeks.

The way people see their abilities and language skills is mind-blowing. For instance, I was in Portugal, sat in a taxi and asked the driver: „Do you speak English?” The answer was a loud YES with a confidence. So I tried to get engaged in the conversation with the cab driver. Very soon it turned out that YES was one of the 10 words he knew in English. Same situation, but this time I was in a Turkish taxi in Istanbul. „Arkadaş, İngilizce konuşabiliyor musun?“. I had to accept NO as an answer. 30 minutes later he already shared with me his experience in the army, his divorce and what did his daughters study. All in a broken but understandable English. Like Tarzan.

My last attempt to learn a new language was just last year, when I jumped into this pool of Arabic language, without life belt or dinghy.  I guess, in my head, there is a limited place for languages. The more Turkish I learn, the more Arabic I forget. This RAM memory of mine is less than 1 GB. At this very moment, I am on my way of inventing a new language, the golden mix of Arabic and Turkish, with a little hint of English  (those holes had to be filled with a language I am good at). I guess this was the way how the most popular artificial language was created. I am not too fluent in Spanish, French, Italian, English, so let’s combine them and ka-boom! How should we call it? Esperanto!  Fun fact number 2: in my opinion, the official language of the Netherlands was invented when a drunk British sailor started to speak German.

I am a shameless self-promoter, but I cannot outshine the self-confidence of certain Turkish guys. Life is all about believing in ourselves. Therefore I say approach life with the same confidence that random Turkish guys approach blue-eyed blonde girls online. In the meanwhile, these girls can master the art of saying no. It’s a win-win situation. Girls, you can thank me later.

I also would love to understand the logic behind the combination of a Turkish male name and a famous Hollywood actor’s snap on the social networks. I thought Ryan Gosling himself was texting me, but since he wanted to keep his name private,  he chosed a Turkish name and he camouflaged himself with a broken English. Nice try Mr Gosling!

My first full, complex and correct Turkish sentence was about to born and I was as proud as a father at the graduation ceremony of his son: bekarım ve bir ilişki aramıyorum.

So my gamophobia will not be cured in Turkey and this is the only thing which scares me more than losing my passport.

Stay tuned, more to come!

Anna Zodi - Volunteer at Istanbul Arel University Youth Center

Istanbul Arel Üniversitesi - Gençlik Çalışmaları Merkezi

About Author

Istanbul Arel University provides support to young and adult people’s education process since 2010. We aim to update standards in line with the developing world and constantly follow the changes in the world.

Within the Erasmus+ Programme o

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