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.

Big Brother Jared

Jared and Luke "win" the race!

My little boy Jared seems to grow a little every day.  He seems to be so much older than he did just a few months ago.  We have all been adjusting to the new move to Texas and Jared is the one who remembers Ecuador most clearly right now.  Jared had to start off by having a birthday party with no little friends to help him celebrate.  Since then, he’s made some friends at Awana and the Thursday Bible study group that his mother goes to in the morning.

I have been very grateful to find a church with an Awana program in Lake Jackson.  There is only one church in the area that is doing it and they seem to be providing the facilities for the kids from a lot of the surrounding churches.  Jared continues to thrive on learning Bible verses.  What has been interesting is that most of his verses are in the 30’s, which is actually Jared’s hardest number to pronounce.  He tends to make the “f” sound when he’s trying to say “thirty” so that it ends up sounding like “forty” instead. However, with all this practice he is starting to get much better with that.

Jared also enjoys learning his alphabet.  I decided not to put him in preschool this year, but to work with him on some phonics at home.  One book that Jared enjoys is a book of little flashcards.  It has three sets of alphabets side by side and then three rows of three letter words.  Jared can flip through the picture/word cards and spell out the words on his own.

Just last week, Jared surprised me by teaching himself how to spell “toy” completely on his own.  Jared also tries to teach Luke everything that he is learning.  Poor Luke has a hard time keeping up with his brother, but he seems to have fun trying.

The other day, Jared told me the first compliment he’s ever given me.  I had just come out of the shower and I had a towel wrapped around my head.  I came out of the room to remind Jared that he needed to get ready for breakfast.  Jared just looked up at me and smiled and said, “You look like a princess, Mommy.”

I told him thank you, although I wasn’t sure what to think about his mental image of princesses wearing towels on their heads.

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.

Jared’s Milestones

Jared poses at a butterfly exhibit.

When Jared turned three years old, I determined that I was finally going to get him potty trained “for real.”  Ever since Jared turned two, I have been going through phases of trying to potty train him and then giving up for months at a time.  This time around, I decided on a strategy that would put my focus solely on Jared.  We had just gotten back from our summer trip in the U.S. and I had a whole month before school would begin again. 

So, I pulled out all of Jared’s diapers and told him, “Jared, these are the last diapers I am going to buy for you.  When these are finished, you have to wear pull ups.  When those are finished, you have to wear underwear.”

It took about a week and a half with a few setbacks along the way, but I can now officially say that Jared is potty-trained during his waking hours.  We are still working on getting him potty trained during his naps and overnight.  So far, he has woken up dry in the morning at least three times in the last three weeks.  The best thing about the whole process is that Jared is finally on board with the activity.  He really wants to be a big boy and not use diapers any more.

Jared and Luke sit on the potty after having had their morning bath.

Besides the potty training, we’re finally getting Jared to eat his meals mostly on his own.  He’s really becoming a day dreamer, and sometimes I can just see his mind go off into another world in the middle of a meal. 

You can just tell there is a lot on his mind.  Recently, Jared decided to memorize the alphabet song and sometimes goes around the house singing it.  He has also memorized his first Bible verse.  We just started to do devotions with the boys each night.  And a verse that I’ve been reading to Jared recently is from Psalm 118:24. 

“This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Sometimes that verse has really come back to bite me.  There have been times when I wake up in the morning grumbling to myself about all that I have to do that day.  I feel this dark cloud hovering over my head.  Then I hear Jared quoting Psalm 118:24 with a big smile on my face, and I know God’s using him to tell me something. 

I’m so glad that God can use little Jared to remind me to be glad for each day that He has given us on this earth.

Stephen thought it would be fun to scare his son by placing him close to the mouth of this alligator statue.