June 22, 2024


Outstanding health & fitness

The words I yearn for: A personal essay


The English language is estimated to consist of about 1 million phrases, and like each and every language, it is at any time-expanding. Having said that, only a modest portion of these 1 million words make it to your each day discussions. In fact, there are somewhere around 171,146 English phrases that are currently in use, and the vocabulary of most older people with English as the to start with language is believed to be about 20,000 to 35,000 text.

Nevertheless language and vocabulary measurement are difficult to evaluate exactly, a typical look at these numbers is adequate to see the intriguing situation they point to: We scarcely use the huge bulk of words and phrases in the English language, and somehow, we seem to be to do just wonderful.

The facts would make English, or language in normal, seem so very simple. But the method of mastering it, and everything that follows, is way extra difficult and private than 171,146 words and phrases could explain. It is a journey not like any other.

And so I have discovered that not recognizing a language is like searching at the environment by means of a foggy window. As you find out, the fog clears — and what made use of to appear to be like random blotches of coloration behind the window start off to become clearer, just take on different styles and types, right until you can finally acknowledge them for what they are and get pleasure from the view on the other aspect. 

I began finding out English when I was 5. On my very first working day at kindergarten in Turkey, the English teacher approached to welcome me and started out speaking to me in English, hoping to familiarize me with the audio of the language. I try to remember getting so terrified because I was not organized for this variety of miscommunication none of what she mentioned manufactured any sense to me. In retrospect, she almost certainly mentioned absolutely nothing a lot more sophisticated than “hello” or “how are you,” but in that instant, her text held a mystery. 

As I ongoing my English finding out journey by means of the yrs, I generally believed about that first day with the English teacher. It was amazing to practical experience the course of action of language understanding, to see myself go from becoming worried of a basic “hello” to somebody who discovered to use this new language as a effective software with which I could express my thoughts, share suggestions and immortalize on paper my most personal ideas. 

Men and women normally inquire me what language I consider in, and I really do not fairly have a very good respond to. At this place, my mind is a mess, mixing text and phrases from the distinctive languages I know, continually transforming: It is a chaotic maze of phrases.

And, occasionally, I arrive at the border of the translatable. There, the languages that usually exist happily with each other in my brain disaffiliate, and I struggle to hook up them in a way that feels correct.

There, the languages that commonly exist happily together in my mind disaffiliate, and I wrestle to connect them in a way that feels appropriate.

These are words of my mother or father tongue that have no translation, no equivalent. These are prevalent expressions and sayings that still left my lifestyle as before long as I remaining Turkey: the words I yearn for regularly in my life in the States. 

Kolay gelsin: May it appear effortless

Just one of my beloved matters about Turkey and its people is the perception of community. People today are, particularly in the context of function, respectful toward others’ efforts, and they have an understanding of the troubles that come with perform. One of the most widespread phrases of day to day lifetime in Turkey is “kolay gelsin,” which interprets to “may it appear straightforward.” Frequently reported to persons who are performing or studying, this phrase is a way of acknowledging one’s attempts and wishing that their work gets quick, that it does not tire them out. 

There’s a cleansing woman I see every single 7 days soon after one of my lessons. She’s constantly ready as we go away the classroom, and persons stroll previous her without having declaring a term. It is not regarded odd for strangers to not greet each other here, but the Turkish part of my brain struggles each time I see her. 

I experience myself wanting to variety these two text, to inform her “kolay gelsin,” but I get caught simply because I can not come across any phrase, any expression in English that conveys the exact same indicating, the heat, the assist. 

People are the moments when I sense the language barrier the most. The window receives foggy again, and I’m making an attempt to achieve out to something I’m acquainted with, a thing that I know is there, on the other side. But I just can’t see it plainly from the fog.

Generally, following a moment of frantically exploring my English vocabulary for the excellent-adequate “kolay gelsin” equivalent that does not exist, I really awkwardly just say “hello.”

The 1st couple periods I greeted her, she didn’t respond, but a person working day, she began indicating hi there back. Now, each and every time we operate into each individual other, we trade this straightforward greeting.

It’s not only her. I have this practical experience with so many strangers I see on a each day foundation: the male who functions at my most loved espresso shop, the girl I see finding out there each individual time I go, the cashiers in each shop I check out — the record goes on.

“Hello” doesn’t have the similar indicating “kolay gelsin” does in Turkey. It does not carry with it the feeling of becoming witnessed, of your do the job getting acknowledged, of having someone else, a total stranger, recognize you, support you. It lacks context.

It doesn’t have with it the experience of staying observed, of your operate becoming acknowledged, of owning someone else, a total stranger, have an understanding of you, guidance you.

But it’s not very little. It’s my way of keeping on to a section of me, a portion of my lifestyle, to a little something much even larger than words and phrases, than language, even if it is just in my head.

Çok yaşa, sen de gör: Reside extended, could you see it much too

Turkish is stylish. Even in the most prevalent, day to day sayings there is a humane, affectionate element. When somebody sneezes, the Turkish response is to say “çok yaşa,” which implies “live prolonged.” This is equivalent to stating “bless you,” but wherever the response from the other human being is a very simple “thank you” in English, the Turkish reaction is significantly additional graceful: “sen de gör,” or “may you see it as well.”

The plan powering this reaction is that for the person to see you stay as very long as they have wished you to dwell, they as well must live a extensive, healthy lifestyle. In a way, you’re not only thanking them for their fantastic wishes, but you’re also wishing the same for them. But the language is so lovely, so poetic that rather of declaring “you far too,” you explain to them you want that they will “see it much too.”

Yet another typical response to “live long” is “hep beraber,” which signifies “all collectively.” You told me to are living lengthy, but no, let us stay long alongside one another. What a pleasant thing to say.

Both of those responses are so typical that no person thinks about their significance. We just say it. It’s only when I find myself in English-speaking environments and English feels insufficient that I recognize the intricacies of my mum or dad tongue.

Mainly because it is tricky to hold down the text I’m made use of to when somebody sneezes and nobody in the area tells them to reside a long, healthy lifestyle. Because it feels inadequate, also individualistic to react with “thank you.” Simply because I miss the adore, the collectivity inherent in the text I use. 

My good friends occasionally mock my fascination with the language bordering sneezing, but I assume the perception of group and help central to most Turkish people today displays even to the language we use.

I come across it beautiful.

Canın sağolsun: May your lifetime be properly

Just one of my beloved Turkish phrases, “canın sağolsun,” is made use of when a person ordeals failure or disappointment. It literally translates to “may your daily life be alive/well” since the logic guiding it is that inspite of this person’s blunder, all that matters is that they are alive and effectively. 

If your good friend fails an test, if somebody owes you income but just can’t pay out it back again or if they can not retain a promise they gave you, you may possibly inform them “canın sağolsun.” In a way, it is acknowledging their mistake, agreeing that the condition is disappointing, but displaying them that the dilemma is not a lot more important than their effectively-becoming and your romance.

My best good friend loves this phrase. When we ended up expanding up, she applied to say it to me all the time. When I was feeling down about some thing, battling with university or beating myself up about a slip-up I designed, each individual time she explained to me “canın sağolsun.” Each time I realized she meant it, and I quickly felt so relieved, so loved. She gave me point of view, reminding me that “you’re healthy, you’re alive, minimal complications come 2nd.” She experienced the electrical power to make me really feel superior right away, and all she utilised have been these two phrases. 

She experienced the electricity to make me come to feel fantastic immediately, and all she made use of were being these two words and phrases.

Here in Berkeley, when I make a blunder and am worrying about it, I have these a hard time convincing people today this is the situation. They say “I’m positive it is not as poor as you assume,” or “it will be high-quality, never worry about it.” I really like my mates, and definitely respect them making an attempt their most effective to assistance, but I just cannot assistance but crave these two words that used to give me so much convenience. It is the need to know that even if it is as undesirable as I believe, and even if it will not be wonderful and I do get worried about it, they will be there for me.

“Canın sağolsun” has no equivalent in English, at the very least practically nothing that conveys the exact sensation. I miss hearing it, and I miss currently being capable to say it to my loved types when they are experience down. For the time becoming, I am stuck with “you’re high-quality,” “it’s OK” and “don’t be concerned about it.”

Güle güle git, hoşçakal: Go smiling, keep properly

When it is time to depart, “goodbye” has two variations in Turkish. The particular person who is being behind, suggests to the human being who is leaving, “güle güle git,” which suggests “go smiling,” or “go as you laugh/smile.” There are variants of this expression. For example, just one can shortly say “güle güle,” which usually means goodbye, but literally translates to “smiling smiling.” Or, when another person is going on holiday or a trip for a short period of time of time, you may notify them, “güle güle git, güle güle gel,” which suggests “go smiling, come back again smiling.”

The person who is leaving, in transform, claims to the man or woman they are leaving driving, “hoşçakal,” which indicates “stay properly,” very similar to “stay perfectly.”

There are so a lot of other means to say goodbye in Turkish, and in unusual circumstances, steps accompany language. For illustration, another beloved of mine is “su gibi git, su gibi gel,” which indicates “go like water, return like water.” This is a way of indicating goodbye to someone who is leaving for a very long time. The tradition requires tossing drinking water from a pitcher or glass behind the person who is leaving, as you inform them to go and return like h2o. The thought is that you want their journey to be as easy, as clean as the stream of water, so that they can entire their trip and return to you properly. I cannot depend the range of times I have gotten into a automobile in advance of leaving my property for a lengthy time, seemed again to see all of my favorite folks crying with pitchers of drinking water in their hands and had that water thrown driving me as the auto commenced relocating.

Goodbye is goodbye no matter what phrases you use to say it. But sometimes it’s the minor points you maintain on to, this kind of as the would like that your journey will be “like water” or that you will go and return with a smile on your facial area that make the huge change. 

There are several other illustrations of popular Turkish terms and sayings I wrestle to say in English. Words are straightforward to translate, but they lose their that means when stripped off their social context. After all, language is basically a bunch of phrases right until meanings and benefit are attributed to it by the lifestyle, by the people who communicate it.

In my time absent from home, my use of language has progressed drastically. I generally locate myself mixing terms from Turkish and English in a single sentence or altering with English words and phrases to make references to Turkish. My closest close friends in the United States are now familiar with some Turkish text and phrases because of the way I converse. It’s fun, and it makes a area to share our cultural and linguistic identities.

At the border of the translatable, I will always skip my guardian language when I just can’t converse it. But language evolves, and so does my romantic relationship with it. So perhaps, as my lifestyle unfolds and I navigate by means of the chaotic term-maze in my intellect, I will see that there have by no means been any borders. 

That is the silver lining.

Contact Merve Ozdemir at [email protected] and abide by her on Twitter at @ozdemir_merve_.


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