Swinging into the Turkish Language

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Learning any new language has its challenges.  From the fall of 2017 to the summer of 2019, our family of six had been submerged in the Chinese language of Mandarin and doing our best to learn a language with a completely different alphabet structure and way of speaking.  Stephen and I did not have the advantage of going to a formal class the way our four children did.  At least 4 or 5 times a week, they would take an hour long class to learn how to read, write and speak in Mandarin.  Our oldest son was most successful in picking up the basics of the language.  I learned how to say a few basic phrases and I learned how to count.  But I could never read more than a few general symbols in Chinese and I wasn’t able to carry on any kind of conversation in that language.

Turkishalphabet

After that huge struggle, I have been pleasantly surprised as the ease in which I am learning how to speak basic words in Turkish.  It does help that the alphabet is very similar to English, except for a few letters having accents and “embellishments” that change the sound of the letter from the way we pronounce it in English.  Being able to recognize letters, read the words and pronounce them correctly makes a huge difference in the learning curve of a language.

Before you start to be impressed, I will confess that I still don’t even know how to say “you’re welcome” in response to “Thank you” and I can’t ask the simple question, “How are you?” and answer it.  However, I have learned about 20-30 words in the past fifteen days.  So, I’m proud of myself at the moment.

One thing I am very glad to have learned fairly early are the words for “yes” and “no.” For “yes,” you say, “evet” and for “no” you say, “hayir.”

The word for “no” literally sounds like the word “higher.” Now, one might not realize immediately the circumstances in which this word is used in English that might cause confusion in the mind of a Turkish person who doesn’t speak your language.

So, let me take you to the Turkish playground where a small child who speaks English has just asked you to push him or her on the swing.  You give the child a firm push and you watch as their swinging feet move higher off the ground.  The moment of confusion would come when the child requests a firmer push on the swing with the most common command we would hear in English: “Higher!”

So, you push the child even more firmly so the swing continues its course further up and away from the ground.  As the child continues to plead to be pushed “higher!” try to imagine what it must sound like to the ear of a Turkish person.  Soon, you might have several alarmed people in the park thinking you are torturing a child who keeps yelling “No! No!” to you.

swing

But have no fear.  I have come up with a perfect solution.  Before causing any need for Turkish child services to hunt me down, I communicate to that child that if he or she wants to be pushed “higher” on a swing, they should simply request, “Up! Up!” And to get off the swing, they should say, “Stop!”

That will work for now, until I can remember the much longer phrase in Turkish that actually is “push me higher, please.” Yeah, it’s not in my 20-30 word Turkish vocabulary yet.

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Jared’s Sharp Mind

I know that every parent thinks that their child is brilliant.  But I have to say that I am quite impressed with the vocabulary and memorization ability of my son, Jared. 

In the past few months, he is picking up on a lot more Spanish than he ever has before.  He won’t speak to me in Spanish very much, but I’ve heard him having conversations with Sonia completely in Spanish.  When he is with her, he remembers to pronounce both his name and Luke’s name in Spanish and not English.  Sonia has also been playing counting games with the boys and once I listened to Jared count from one to 25 in Spanish…well…give or take a few numbers that he might has skipped in between. 

And he’s still working on counting in English, but he can reach twenty without too much help. 

Besides having conversations with Sonia, Jared also spends a lot of time having conversations with Luke.  Sometimes those conversations end in frustration on both their parts as they aren’t quite able to communicate clearly to one another.  At times, I have to stop Jared from arguing with his brother, because he will yell at Luke for pronouncing something incorrectly.

“No, Lukie! That’s not the way you say it! Don’t say it like that!” Jared will tell him. 

It doesn’t seem to bother Luke too much.  He just continues to babble in his little language that is just starting to become intelligible to our listening ears. 

What’s really fun is listening to them interact first thing in the morning.  There are times that they will play together in their bedroom for a while, before they come out looking for us.  Those times are nice, because I can continue lying in the bed listening to them chatter before I have to get up and feed and dress them.

Jared enjoys a mid-morning snack with his brother, Luke.