I took a Quiche to my mother-in-law today. Turkish cuisine has no equivalent to Quiche – the only comparative I could think of is borek..a most delicious stuffed pastry, not remotely quiche-like but eaten – like Quiche – for breakfast or lunch, hot or cold. So, while she dubiously looked at this wobbly pastry encased concoction (that may or may not have been closer to brown than golden on top) I said, “it’s delicious! It’s an English eggy, pastry like thing.,” then I went further, adding, “and it’s salty, but I made it without salt.” Now granted, Turkish has no word for savoury so you have to say salty, still, it was hardly the most eloquent explanation!
I’ve been here five years now, and while Turks may well be impressed by how much Turkish I’ve picked up in that time, I know, deep down, I could do better – could have done better. I say picked up, because I’ve never really sat down to learn Turkish. Sure, I’ve had sporadic weeks when I’ve attacked grammar and tenses, but those weeks have never turned into months or the grammar into sentences, I understand 99% of what’s said around me in everyday life, maybe 70% of what’s said on the news and can scan read a paper easily enough but it’s not enough to be M’s Mum here – especially the Mum of a Turk!
Turkish doesn’t have matching male/female prepositions, nor logical sentence structures to guide you along. It’s a complex mix of Ottoman derived sounds mixed with Arabic influence given modernisation from the west. There are a smattering of english words, and some Persian roots, but on the whole it’s a language that’s unique to itself since the alphabet was rewritten under Ataturk’s commission in 1928. The structure of Turkish is in general, one root word. To this word you add prepositions and tenses, you can make the word plural or add a verb on its heel. Essentially, you can say the sentence in a single word.
It might sound complicated, and it is; at the same time, once you grasp the basics (which I kinda have) it’s formulaic and easy enough to learn. You just have to practise and practise and practise some more. So, I have to stop being lazy, get over the embarrassment and just start to babble. Not to baby -that would be easy! – but to hubby, and to the in-laws and the random people I encounter through the day. And I have to add studying time to that scheduling thing.
Any tips for language learning to fluency?