“Avustralyalılaştıramadıklarımızdanmışsınızcasına” is a Turkish term pronounced as a single word and an extreme example of agglutination, the process of adding affixes to the base of a word. This word is translated into English as “as if you were one of those whom we could not make resemble the Australian people”. Crikey. Turkish is stuffed with tortuously lengthy agglutinations and therein lies my knotty problem.
Though rhythmic and poetic on the ear, Turkish is not an easy language for Europeans to assimilate as it is thought to belong to the Altaic language family and is distantly related to Mongolian, Korean and other inscrutable Asiatic tongues. Despite Atatürk’s valiant 1928 adoption of the Latin alphabet and the fact that the language is phonetic and mostly regular, the word order, agglutinations and the absence of familiar sounds all conspire to make learning Turkish a very daunting prospect. At least that’s my excuse. Liam is trying. I am just hopeless.
Although our hosts are remarkably tolerant of the average Brit’s lazy attempts to nail a foreign tongue, I’m a zealous believer that a little learning goes a long way. Taking the trouble to remember a few choice words and phrases can make a world of difference. One rainy afternoon, we were buying DIY essentials in Koçtaş. A yellow-haired, haughty emigrey ignorati strutted into the store and bellowed imperiously at a random selection of bewildered staff “Excuse me, I am English! I need help! Do you speak English? Yes, you there. Do you speak English?” It made me cringe with acute embarrassment and I peered apologetically at the pretty till girl. Despite my lacklustre language skills, I will never become one those all too common high-handed, po-faced little Englanders.
So what’s the Turkish for “as if you were one of those whom we could not make resemble a drag queen”? Answers on a postcard.