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8 wonderful things to do in Istanbul costing less than 8 dollars

1. Bosphorus Tour


Bosphorus locates just in the heart of Istanbul as much as in the life of an Istanbulian. The most expensive houses positioned along the Bosphorus where one can see spectacle sea view and bridges connecting the two continents. You’ll just understand why Istanbul has been the heart of empires while traveling between two continents: Asia and Europe.

2. Chora Museum


Not as popular as Hagia Sophia, but Chora church is in the Edirnekapı, Fatih region and is one of the most interesting churches in Istanbul. The walls of the church are covered with really beautiful and well-preserved mosaics. This medieval Orthodox church is built in the 4th century and attracted many believers in the Byzantium era until Mehmed the conqueror converted it into a mosque; today, Chora church is a museum.

3. Aya Sofya, Blue mosque


This Impressive church is considered as the peak of Byzantium architecture and said to ‘changed the history of architecture’ due to the huge dome and its unique structure. Hagia Sophia was constructed in the 6th century in the era of Roman Empire and served as a church until the fall of Constantinople. It converted into a mosque, later a museum with the establishment of the republic.

Blue mosque is located in front of Hagia Sophia in the Fatih region. The huge mosque was constructed in seven years (between 1609-1616), in front of Hagia Sophia, as an epitome of Ottoman architecture. The mosque walls are covered with blue handmade tiles, that’s why the colloquial name is ‘blue mosque’.

4. Grand Bazaar


The oldest shopping mall and most visited tourist attraction (recorded in 2014). The heart of Constantinople commerce, Grand Bazaar, still serves the same purpose. You will surprise how many languages you could hear! If you want to buy something, you HAVE TO use your bargaining skills to convince for less price. Because No. 1 rule is you have to bargain in Grand Bazaar!

5. Eat yogurt in Kanlıca


Yogurt occupies a big portion in the daily diets of the Turkish. The word, yogurt, has been borrowed by many languages keeping its original form; however, how it is eaten has changed a little bit. Turks prefer to eat the yogurt plain. As a desert, kanlıca yogurt is eaten with grape syrup (tr. pekmez), honey (tr. bal) or cherry/berry jams. You have to taste this delicious yogurt at the motherland of yogurt!

6. Drink beer in Kadıköy Moda


If you want to stay away from the crowd and have a drink, you must visit Kadıköy and especially Moda coast. Numerous bookstores, fish restaurants, ice cream shops, bars, cafes and many waits for you. At the seaside, there is long meadow where you can watch the sea and blend in the local people and local life.

7. Prince Islands


Prince Islands consist of 9 different islands: Big Island, Saddlebag Island, Fortress Island, Henna Island, Mother-of-Pearl Island, Flat Island, Sharp Island, Spoon Island, Rabbit Island. Beautiful ferries take you there costing less than 3 dollars. In summer, it is a frequent destination for tourists but spring and autumn, the islands are just so much beautiful. For those who want to have a romantic night or a calm day in which you read your book and drink your cold beer, islands are just a perfect destination for you!

8. Eat chesnut in Istiklal Street and Galata Tower


Istiklal street and Beyoğlu region is (I think) the most popular and busiest site for tourists. Many Catholic and Orthodox churches still serve for non-muslim citizens and are open for tourists. Coffee shops, bookstores, bars, and authentic shops have been running there since Constantinople times. Beyoğlu and Galata have a highly diversified population even today. As you walk to the Karaköy region, Galata tower will impress you with its uniqueness and architectural style. The best part is you can climb there and watch a breathtaking view of Istanbul.

Visa dispute

An US embassy employee, Metin Topuz, was allegedly accused of having links to Fethullah Gülen movement. Topuz, a Turkish citizen who works for US embassy was arrested last week because he knew key information on the alleged involvement of US in the coup.

Erdoğan has requested Fethullah Gülen from the United States for several times but this request was not accomplished. Erdoğan even bargained releasing Pastor Andrew Brunson who had been arrested for involvement in the failed coup. 78 signatures have been gathered for the release of Pastor in the Congress.

After the US suspended visa service for Turkish citizens, Turkey also put the services on ice. This restriction blocks US citizens entering Turkey and Turks in North America. It doesn’t apply if you already have a visa.

11 Turkish words you won’t believe they are borrowings!

Turks have been living in numerous geographies and been in interaction with many cultures and languages. Because of that, there are a large number of borrowings in the language. The interesting thing is that by time these words gain Turkish phonetics and evolve to fit into the mayor and minor vowel harmonies. (e.g. Asya, Avrupa) In this page, we are going to investigate Turkish borrowings that you won’t believe that they are actually borrowings!

kaldırım etimoloji etymology

Kaldırım: (pavement)

If you think that this word is derived from the Turkish verb ‘kaldırmak‘, you are wrong. The opposite would be then, indirim? hehe. ‘Kaldırım’ is derived from Greek word kallidrómos (καλλιδρόμος) meaning ‘good/beautiful road‘. Kalo (beautiful) + drom (road); we encounter the same word ‘drom‘ in ‘hippodrome‘.

Boğa yılanı: (gopher snake)

Gopher snake. These snakes kill their prays by squeezing them to death (boğmak). However, ‘boğa yılanı’ is definitely not derived from the Turkish verb ‘boğmak‘. They usually live in South Africa and Madagascar and can eat a Jaguar or a pig at a time. These snakes are called ‘boa‘ in the local language of the region. So, the correct writing would be only ‘Boa‘, as in ‘Piton‘ or ‘Anaconda‘. Yet ‘boğa yılanı‘ totally like a good fit with by a lucky coincidence.

Aferin: (well done)

This word has been in Turkish for too long that, like many, it sounds like it is Turkish. The first appearance goes before 1500. It is borrowed from the Persian word āfirīn (آفرين) and by time, it evolves to fit in major vowel harmony. Its original meaning is ‘compliment’ in Persian which is now used as ‘bravo’ in Turkish.

Kilit: (lock)

Turkish has borrowed this word from Persian kelīd (كليد), meaning ‘anahtar‘. Persian, on the other hand, has borrowed this word from ancient Greek kleid (κλεïς). The Greek word is derived from an Indoeuropean root *klau (also reminds us ‘to close’ or ‘la clave’ in Spanish). Anahtar, on the other hand, comes from Greek with the meaning of aniχtēri (ανοιχτηρι) meaning ‘açkı, açacak‘ (en. opener).

https://pixabay.com/en/soil-pavement-empedrado-street-1650681/

Menderes:

Meandering water. (see the similarity?) The same word also exists in modern Greek today as méandros μαίανδρος. Turkish sources say that the word enters the ancient Greek as the name of a river in Istanbul (today’s Menderes river). Etymonline gives the following explanation for the word ‘meanderin‘:

from Greek Maiandros, name of a river in Caria* noted for its winding course (the Greeks used the name figuratively for winding patterns). In reference to river courses, in English, from 1590s.
(*Caria is an ancient region in Western Anatolia.)

Menderes in Turkish: Bir akarsu yatağının az eğimli koyak tabanlarında ve ova düzlüklerinde çizdiği S harfine benzeyen kıvrım.

Anadolu:

The land between the Euphrates and East Aegean sea was called Anatolía (ανατολία) in Medieval Greek. The latest folk of Anatolia now call the same land ‘Anadolu’. The earliest appearance of the word is in Düsturname-i Enveri (1456). The Greek word is derived from the ancient Greek anatolē (ανατολη), literally meaning ‘rising’ since the sun rises from the east Aegean coast.

Efendi: (Master, sir)

If someone calls your name, to say ‘I am here’, you’d say ‘efendim’ or If you don’t understand what is told, to make it repeat, you’d say ‘efendim’. This common and useful phrase actually comes from Medieaval Greek avthéntis (αυθέντης), meaning ‘royal’. (similar to Bey, let’s check its etymology next)

Bey:

Mister, efendi. The word comes from Sogdian language which has been the medium of communication in the silk road until the 9th century. The roots of the word can be traced in the Avestan language and Sanskritic. (Indoeuropean languages)

Avanak:

avanak etimoloji etymology

Simpleton. This word is borrowed from Armenian (org: havanag յավանակ). The first appearance in the language is in 1876 (Ahmet Vefik Paşa, Lugat-ı Osmani), Lugat-ı Osmani defines the word as ‘fool person’. The original meaning in Armenian is donkey-foal. This Armenian word can be traced back until the Medieval Persian from 5 and 6th. centuries. In Medieval Persian it exists as yavān/yuvān (young), reminding us ‘civan’. (Civan: young, young man)

Temel:

Base. The word comes from the Greek word themélio (θεμέλιο). Base of a sculpture is called ‘themélio’ in Greek. The first appearance in Turkish is in the 15th century of Ottoman Turkish which is quite early and today keeps the same meaning. It is surprising that the famous protagonist of Turkish jokes, Temel, takes its name from Greek.

Kermes:

Kermiss, charity sale. We encounter the same word in many occidental languages. (Kermesse in Spanish and French) The first apperance in Turkish is in 1935. It is borrowed from French ‘kermesse’ which means ‘charity sales after sunday seremonial’. It is a compound word of Greek ‘kýrios’ κύριος (Gr. lord, god) and Latin ‘missa’ (masa, sunday seremonial) first appeared in German.

Credits for First, Second, Third photos.
Etymonline – Source for English words.
Etimolojiturkce.com – Source for Turkish words.

Turks living in Germany

a capture from the movie “Willkommen in Deutschland” (2011)

Why so many Turks live in Germany?

German industry was booming and the country desperately needed manpower. 50 years ago large numbers of Turks started streaming into Germany in order to help country’s labor shortage. Millions of them and their next generation remain there today. German may not have expected the Turks to settle, but they did after some generation. Today, 3 million Turks live in Germany and some of them feel Germany as their home.

Turkish-decent students go through the German education system with their German classmates. Statistically, they don’t have a bright future ahead as much as German classmates. There is one main reason for that: Language. In order to get a proper education, a student must speak German as though it is the mother tongue. If not, uneducated students having integrity issues have been created. However, the vast majority of Turks lately generates bilingual students.

Which problems do Turks face in Germany and other European countries?

Language is not the only burden that the Turks are facing. Many Turks believe that the prejudice is still widespread. Some of them have suffered from discrimination due to the difference in their cultures. Stereotyping against a minority group is a thing that everybody does without even realizing. Numerous German citizen and right wing consider Muslim immigrants as a threat to their culture, civil balance, and ‘western values‘.

Media, tv shows, and newspapers reinforced the stereotypes especially after nine eleven. The religion of people began to be more important than ever after nine eleven. In German tv series or fictional media, you never hear a Turk without a forced accent. The Turkish never have a proper job in proper living conditions for the fiction. How much of these things are made consciously or unconsciously? That’s another controversial topic. After all, people living in Europe should have the right of deciding who is going to enter their country.

Latest statistics show that remigration rates are at peaks. In the late history, Turkish people consider not to go to Germany anymore or if they live in Germany, they prefer to turn back to their motherland. The main reason for that is Turkey have improved social and economic conditions compared to the past. Today, however, there are new issues in Turkey such as poor freedom of speech, anti-democratic and oppressive government. Even though these conditions do not cause large numbers to migrate, we hear, that a journalist or a lawyer having problems with the president takes refugee to Germany or England. Politics in Turkey have always been intriguing. Integration efforts to modernity surprisingly result in anti-democratic acts. We will wait and see in the future whether Turks continue to stay in their motherland or strive for living abroad in seek of welfare.

Turks in the Era of Byzantine Empire

A Turkish actor (Cüneyt Arkın) is captured by Byzantine soldiers in a movie.

Turks in the Byzantine Empire

In his “Story of the Warrior and the Captive” Borges tells us about Droctulft, a
barbarian Lombard who abandons his own culture and dies defending Ravenna, the city that he had formerly tried to raid. Something of this incomprehensible yet meaningful passage is certainly present in the relationships between the Byzantine and early Turkish cultures.

Many reasons represented an obstacle to the closeness between the Greeks and the Turks: they had very different languages, Islam was not an acceptable religion for Byzantines. The lifestyle of a Turkish raider was remarkably different from that of the Byzantine cities dweller. At first sight, it would seem that Turks and Greeks were mortal enemies. And yet a significant number of Turks were integrated into the Empire, even in their higher ranks.

The introduction of an individual Turk into the Byzantine society required several
steps. The first of all was baptism, whereby the man abandoned his old life and was reborn a new person. It would seem like it was a hard step to take, but we should bear in mind that Islam was a relatively recently adopted religion to the Turk people and they cohabited in Anatolia with a population which was predominantly Christian. After baptism, they would receive titles and gifts, wealth that might have seduced them more than the nomadic lifestyle. Education on the Occidental culture would also play a key role, but the fullest stage of incorporation would come with marriage bonds.

Famous are the stories of Tatikios and John Axouch, who were introduced into
the very bosom of the imperial family and achieved high relevance in politics and warfare. There is also the singular case of the refugee called Koutloumousios by the Greeks, who became a Christian and founded a monastery on Mount Athos.

Finally, it is true that it would seem silly for some the idea of leaving the rising
Turkish force on behalf of the dying Byzantium. But it is not less true that from the tenth to the twelfth century the Empire did not seem on the verge of collapse, quite the contrary. However, as well as Borges’ story has its other side, this one has its too, for plenty of the Byzantium citizens decided to proceed likewise and abandon the Empire in order to join the Turkish power.

(Source: Brand, C. M. (1989) “The Turkish Element in Byzantium. Eleventh-Twelfth Centuries”,
Dumbarton Oaks Papers 43)

Agustin R. Avila

Studied Ancient Greek and Latin at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, AR where he currently makes his research. He speaks four languages and currently learns German and Turkish. He also teaches the Spanish Language at several Argentinian secondary schools.

What is a language?

morse code machine, distinct language

We will take a closer look at what is a language on this page with some informative terminology.

Wikipedia defines ‘language’ as the ability to acquire and use complex systems of communication, particularly the human ability to do so, and a language is any specific example of such a system.

In other words, language is the method of communication; a set of words, symbols, and rules for combining them in a structured way. It can be spoken, written or signed. There is even whistled language in Black sea region (see the video below), in Northern Turkey and in many places such as Canary islands, Mexico and in a tiny village in Greece. According to linguists and psychologists, in order to for something to be referred as a language, it has to have for components:

1. Symbolic (Phonology): We use symbols to represent the world around us. Words, signs, alphabet are all symbolic. It allows us to imagine things that we are not seeing. Because a language is symbolic, we are able to describe things that we are not showing. It allows us to comprehend the notion of religion, democracy or any kinds of things.

2. Semantics: This allows symbols to have a meaning. It is also called semasiology. Semantics, from the linguistic aspect, is the study of interpretation of symbols, signs, words etc.

3. Generativity (Pragmatics): By the combination of symbols, we can generate unlimited numbers of meaningful phrases. Daily life talking consists of less than one thousand words for an average person; However, one can express almost anything with such a limited number of words. Animals are not capable of doing this while comunicating with each other although they can distinguish different symbols having different meanings.

4. Structure (Syntax): Everything so far have to follow rules. Languages have structure and rules. We call this set of rules ‘grammar’. Grammar may differ depending on the language but it exists in every language.

Video: Whistling tongue are in danger of extinction.

Video 2: Whistling tongue in Canary Island (UNESCO)

Video 3: Morse code. How does it work? (documentary)

First Language Acquisition

What are the stages of language learning?

How humans learn their mother language is quite complex and interesting. No matter which language you learn, all human beings go through the same stages from the infancy to the adulthood. Let’s take a look at first language acquisition and its stages in detail.

The first stage when acquiring your first language is ‘Crying‘. This may not appear as such a use of a language; However, it is the first step for communication. If you ask any parents whether it is a sort communication, they would tell you that there are different kinds of crying. A baby cries differently when it is wet, hungry or bored. Then, it is a communication and in a way language.

The next stage is ‘Cooing‘. After two months, children start doing vowel sounds. By about six months of age, there come consonants. This stage is called ‘Babbling‘. You can observe combinations of vowels and consonants even if they don’t make any sense. In this stage, you may hear your baby ‘talking’ happily in its crib.

These stages we have mentioned so far are commonly observed. Even the baby is deaf. Deaf babies cry and coo and babble even they don’t hear anything. Parents, therefore, don’t understand whether their baby is deaf or not in the first six months.

When you speak, you don’t speak in the same tone like a text reader. For instance, when you ask a question, the pitch goes up in the end. After 6 months, babies start to pick the melody of their mother language. This is because, even though they don’t speak the language, they pick up the pitches, melodies, voices and emotions. By the age of one, you can hear single words. Moreover, babies would use these words as sentences to communicate.

Can we learn a second language like we do our first language?

By about eighteen months, we observe multi-word sentences. However, the sentence would be overly shortened. For instance, if baby wants you to get water from the fridge and give him or her, it would say, ‘give water fridge’. Starting from this stage, children between the ages of two and six can learn ten new words only just hearing them. They simply acquire so fastly the vocabulary of their first language. They don’t have to work at it like people work when they try to learn a second language. Because by puberty, human beings lose the ability to pick up words simply by hearing it. We have to work at it! We, adults, won’t pick it up as naturally and easily as babies do. That’s why new education systems are beginning second language teaching from the kindergarten. In kindergarten children will acquire the vocabulary even without realizing it.

You also may find interesting this article: What is a language?

Written Turkish Language

orkhon script

Göktürk and Orkhon scripts

If you read any Turkish newspaper nowadays, you’ll find that the vocabulary is quite similar to occidental languages. Certainly, the alphabet they use is not very different than the ones used in Occident.

But it was not always like this!

The old Turkic language was written in its own alphabet, which looks very similar to the Germanic runes (although there is really no relations between them). The Göktürk or Orkhon script is thought to derive from the Aramaic alphabet or perhaps from Chinese scriptures. About two hundred inscriptions are preserved and they all stem from the area of Mongolia, dated from the 7th to the 10th century.

Which scripts have Turks adapted to their language?

Ottoman Turkish Alphabet

When Turkic peoples began to move south to Anatolia region in the following centuries, they came into contact with the Byzantine, Arabic and Persian cultures. The Ottoman Empire official script was the Ottoman Turkish alphabet, an adaptation of the Arabic alphabet which worked quite good for the words loaned from Arabic and Persian, but not so well for the vernacular.

Modern Turkish Alphabet

Finally, this script was relinquished officially in 1929, when the westernization of the nation was in full swing. In its place, it was adopted the Latin alphabet that was used in most of the European countries and in whole America. Of course, it needed some attaches and modifications to suit the Turkish language, but only seven new characters appear. To us, this is an obvious advantage since we don’t need to deal with some complicated writing system to communicate within Turkey. However, this represented a severe shock for the Turks of the first half of the 20th century. The work of schools was the key factor in this point and nowadays the adapted Latin alphabet’s use is fully extended in the country. Actually, there is an incredibly small number of people who is able to read a newspaper from… less than a century ago! Imagine such an obstacle, for example, to study a document of 90 years old.

Agustin R. Avila

Studied Ancient Greek and Latin at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, AR where he currently makes his research. He speaks four languages and currently learns German and Turkish. He also teaches the Spanish Language at several Argentinian secondary schools.

2017 Referandumu (Referendum of Turkey)

Red cities “No”; Blue cities “Yes”

The referendum has resulted. No campaign that is led by Erdoğan narrowly won with 51% “Yes”. Erdoğan won another victory. This victory involves more powers on him. Even though he won this referendum, numbers show us that his party (AKP) is not able to form the government alone in the next elections but by some kind of coalition with another party.

The biggest three cities of Turkey, Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir voted for “Hayır”. Votes coming from provinces and Europe (Turks living in Germany, Austria, France etc.) were in the favor of “Evet”.

The boom of conservative thinking surprisingly is being widespread in the world. On the Turkish media, It is quite controversial if Turkey needs a radical political change right now. We will wait and see if this constitutional amendment will be good for Turkey or a leap in the dark.

Yeni bir yıl, 2017!

iyi yillar, happy new year!

iyi yillar, happy new year!

We wish you a happy new year! We hope 2017 will be a better year than 2016 for all the humanity and all the world!

Herkesin yeni yılını kutlar, 2017’nin 2016’dan daha iyi bir yıl olmasını dileriz! Bütün insanların daha mutlu olduğu bir yıl olması dilekleriyle.

İyi yıllar!