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Turklish – açmak ve kapatmak

Turn it on!

Do not open a computer. Turn it on!

Avustralya, not Avusturya…

Istanbul taxi dirvers make me laugh. Most of the time. After we manage to clarify that I’m from Australia and not Austria, and they accept that it can also be cold in my home country and that a 14-hour plane journey is not that tedious… we can chat about other things.

Then, when you ask an Istanbul driver where he is from, inevitably you will get a response that is anything other than I’m from Istanbul.’ I’m not even sure that anyone was actually born in this city, regardless that it teems with millions of souls.

Many originate from the Black Sea and I’m reasonably sure that 25% of drivers come from the city of Trabzon. A good indication is that they are friendly, pay scant attention to traffic rules, and speak with an accent that makes me wonder if, after all these years, I still understand the Turkish language. I more or less don’t.

My Turkish remains a bit Turklish

Which, as an English teacher, got me thinking. As I alighted from the taxi in the suburb of Etiler this morning, still breathing and thankful my body remained in one piece, I once again realised how little my Turkish has improved over time. I’m proficient, at least enough to maintain friendships, argue with bus drivers and shout at no one in particular, however correct grammar and an extensive vocabulary remain beyond my reach.

Please turn it off...

Turn off your phone. Don’t close it.

My attempts to use Turkish in the classroom are consistently met with bursts of laughter and expressions of disbelief. Learning a new tongue is not easy, and that in the country where it is spoken by everyone around me and where I need it on a daily basis.

I have taught hundreds of students in Turkey,some of whom still struggle with many aspects of English though they possess good grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. Turklish is a reality for most people here, a certain level of English that still betrays its Turkic roots. I have a feeling it can be remedied, and that by concentrating on this topic I might even assist my own Turkish to become more Turkic and less a dubious translation.

How to use turn on/off and switch on/off

So here’s lesson number one:

In Turkish, açmak and kapatmak are used respectively to turn on and turn off computers, lights and iPads. It is used to hang up or to end a telephone call.

However, a literal translation just doesn’t work. You cannot open or close a computer.

First, if the thing, device or appliance is powered by electricity, then you can switch it on or off and turn it on or off.

- You can turn on a lamp.

- You can turn off the oven.

- You can switch on a stereo.

- And I often ask my students to switch off their iPads.

The exception is this:

If you’re on the phone, in English you answer a phone call and you hang up at the end of the conversation.

- I hung up after speaking with my friend.

- I answered his call as soon as the phone rang.

- I’m hanging up now… Bye

You cannot open or close a phone in English.

And I think that covers it.

I intend to cover Turklish thoroughly to improve my own Turkish and to help my students.

Any comments? What should I look at next?

Please note: I’ve posted this again on my new business site for Turks Learning English!

2 responses to “Turklish – açmak ve kapatmak”

  1. this might be irrelevant, but you should get your articles translated into other languages to reach more people

  2. Thanks for your comment.

    I have now opened a new business, http://www.turkslearnenglish.com. We think there is a great opportunity to give Turks a specific website designed to help them learn English, since Turkish speakers have specific needs when learning the English language.

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