11 February, 2010

kahverengi

Fun fact about Türkçe: vowel harmony. There are two groups of vowels, front (e,i,ö,ü) and back (a,ı,o,u). A bona fide Turkish word will contain only vowels from one group or the other, and vowel harmony determines the suffix, for example whether a plural is formed with -ler as opposed to -lar. Çilekler, arabalar.

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We're learning colors (renkler).

Mavi, sarı, kırmızı, yeşil, pembe, turuncu, beyaz, siyah (note that some of these are borrowed from other languages, hence they lack vowel harmony). I remember most of them from playing with Rosetta Stone software months ago. But there's one color i can't for the life of me remember: brown. I remember seeing the word and thinking, that's the strangest name ever for a color.

Kahverengi, our teacher writes on the board. That's when it hits me. I turn to Muhammad, the student from Djibouti sitting next to me, to share the little epiphany. "Kahve.....rengi. I get it!"

Coffee colored. Yeah, i used to think it was the strangest name for a color ever; now it's the one Turkish word i will never forget. Kahverengi'yi seviyorum. Where the heck did English come up with "brown"?