Turkish Trotting on my Tongue
I marched into the office triumphantly today, plopped myself down in front or our wonderful administrative assistant, and ceremoniously pronounced the sentence I'd been practicing that morning... Slowly, like a baby teetering as it takes its first steps: "Ben resim çizmeyi için severim!" (I love to draw). She looked at me encouragingly and said, "Yes, but not 'için'- that means 'in order to.'" 'Rats!" I thought- I was so sure I had it down! I had found a pattern in all the translation I'd been doing online and through words I have slowly been picking up here and there.
When I worked in elementary, we would start kids out with basic sight words that they could use in simple sentences: "see", "like", "the", "a". Although I crave to be at the more conversational level, I have to be realistic and start with the building blocks. One basic sentence that students learn to write in elementary is "I like _______", so I looked up how to say that in the online translator, filling in various verbs, and trying to absorb where the verb landed in each one and it's ending. In Turkish, the word order in a sentence is very different from English or any Latin based language. The sentence "I love to draw" in Turkish would directly translate to "I draw like." The verb is modified by various endings whose meanings I am still trying to decipher. In each example that I looked up, the last word of the sentence was "severim", which means "like/love." So, the basic way to say "I like _____" is "Ben (verb with a slightly different ending I'm still trying to figure out) severim." Easy. Breezy. Peasy. (As we used to say in elementary).
Two words make life a little easier here. They are like brother words and heavily season any conversation I overhear around Istanbul. They are "çok" and "yok," the Click and Clack of the Turkish tongue. "Çok" (pronounced "chock"), means "very" and is used to emphasize and strengthen any word that follows. It is a pedestal of a word, a boost, a loudspeaker, an armor. It is decisive and brawny. I live for the moment when I show my jewelery teacher my latest completed task, wait as he inspects it carefully, and finally pronounces the words, "Çok güzel" (very beautiful). On an amazing day when someone asks you "nasılsın?" (How are you?), you can reply "Çok iyi!" (very good!). It puts a little varnish on an otherwise plain word, a little lace on its panties.
Yok, on the other hand, is a steel bar, a fist of steel, a door slammed in your face, when pronounced alone. It simply means "There isn't" or "no." It is sometimes softened when followed by another word, like "yok problem" (no problem), but usually comes down hard, like pigeon poop on your face.
Sprinkling those two around with the other few words I've mastered so far, sometimes gives me the illusion of being able to carry on a conversation. I am itching to be able to speak- especially during my jewelry class, when I miss out on most of the conversations and jokes. One step at a time.