17 March, 2010

Tren gibi

Today in Türkçe, we covered the future tense. When we got to future negative - for example, bakmayacağım, "i will not look", i commented to the teacher, "çok heceler". Many syllables. Thus she gave us an example of a truly mind-boggling Türkish phrase:

Afyonkarahisarlılaştıramadılelarımızdan mısınız?

Which is a question to plural you about the village of Afyonkarahisar that, in English, requires seventeen words to ask. This is Türkçe at its complex best. It's phonetic - very easy to speak, once one has mastered the short ı and long ü and ö vowel sounds and the pattern of suffixes - but that pattern of suffix rules, which depends upon the last vowel and consonant of the stem word for its phonetic character, is pretty damn tough to internalize. 

Türkçe, the instructor said with delightful metaphor, is tren gibi - like a train. The stem word - çok önemli, very important - is the engine, followed by car after car of modifications. Bak. Look. Çok, çok önemli. The stem tows the cumulative meaning of the following syllables, in some cases separated with consonants whose only purpose is connective - y between two vowels, or soft ğ replacing k when followed by a vowel. Bak + ma + (y) + aca(ğ) + ım : look + not + will + i. She drew a little train on the board.


Thanks to a conversation with Chris and Laura, Canadian adventurers i met in Antalya, there's now a Turkish pronunciation guide in the sidebar. Because as my language skill improves, and i get used to typing with an i where the quotation marks should be - there's a train coming. Meanwhile, check out Chris and Laura's beautiful blog Out There Somewhere.