Swearing in Turkish

When I was on holiday and soliciting for guest posts, Dina, a Bodrum Belle of class and distinction, sent me two articles. The first, Siren Inflation was published last month, but I received her second piece too late in the day to include among the  holiday crop. I’m unsurprised it was a little delayed as Dina and her partner Dave run a successful gulet charter business here in old Bodrum Town called South Cross Blue Cruising. It’s been a busy season.

Here is Dina’s second guest post.

Swearing in Turkish is an acquired art.  The wrong word at a dinner party will guarantee a permanent ban, whereas a well-timed curse can open doors, and little is as satisfying as swearing profusely while driving in Turkey.

I once lived 20 meters up on a one way street from the main road in downtown Bodrum. This meant either driving up the one way street the wrong way in order to get into my private parking space, or circumventing the entire perimeter of Bodrum in order to arrive at the house 15 minutes and 2 liters of petrol later on the correct, one way route.

Fast forward to the bustle of August with Istanbul ’34’ number plates dominating all of the one way highways and tight Bodrum alleys. I was trying to get home and did a quick glance up my one way street which appeared completely clear. I gassed the little Fiat Uno up the alley the wrong way to duck into my parking space.  From a parked position, a tired, late 70s model, avocado green, 34 plated Mercedes sedan crept out and met me at the entrance to my parking space, with just enough room to not let me into my garage.  I signalled right – he shook his head.  I signalled right again, as all he had to do is reverse one meter to allow me access. I made a face and pointed towards my alley.  His brassy haired, bouffanted wife gave me the Turkish equivalent of the finger above her gold bangles.A combination of strong hormones and heat rash thus persuaded me to intentionally stall my Uno.  Alas, two more 34 plates appeared behind the Benz, as did a neighbor’s 48 licensed Bodrum car behind me, with shortcut intentions similar to mine.

Salak kari! bellowed the fat, sweaty Benz driver through all three of his chins. (Stupid broad)

Lavuk!  I tossed back. (Imbecile)

Oruspu!  yelled the aging Istanbulite’s missus at me above her gyrating fist. (Prostitute)

Whore! I yelled back, trying to intimidate in English.

Manyak! screeched the red faced man, blowing on his horn at me. (Maniac)

Hiyar! I retorted out of my open window. (Cucumber)

The local market boys ran out to participate in the entertaining engagement. They first attempted to assuage the Mercedes, which, in the Turkish pecking order and its big city license plate, had potential clout which almost rivalled that of mine as a trusted and known neighbor.  Realizing the aggressiveness and possible languid VIP factor within the aging Benz, as well as not wanting me to switch mini market loyalties, the market boys rearranged cement flower pots for me to pull onto the curb and allow the MB to pass.  The Honda behind me continued the argument until the Honda became an ayi (bear) and the Benz became the son of a pimp of sodomy.  Having delivered the purported greater insult, the 48 licensed Bodrum Honda backed up to let the frustrated 34 Benz pass.

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12 thoughts on “Swearing in Turkish

  1. How exciting, and how sweet of the market boys as peacemakers… Or you could have all been there all day from the sound of it! As for “cucumber” – that’s a pretty weighty-sounding insult!


  2. I love it. I have to admit that some of the first Turkish words I learned when I moved here were swear words. They come in so useful at times.


  3. love it – a gem! I’m in there, part of the action. Bring it on! Bring it on! (as George Dubya famously said before losing the Iraq War)


  4. ha ha Dina I’ve been there myself many times, most often (but obviously not always) I am in the right and the aforementioned 34 is going the wrong way! Guess who has to reverse???? I’ve found yelling “Dickhead” works really well because they think I am saying Dikkat!


  5. Great post, understand this so well, I used to have to go down a one way street in Marmaris every day to reach my shop. One day the police stopped me and my husband persuaded them to take details of my UK driving licence thus saving any immediate trouble. In those days a UK driving licence was just looked at in amazement, as the old type no photo etc. and not to cause any embarrassment to them they would waiver most indiscretions. Won’t work these days I have to now have a Turkish one. Love the swearing, you just can’t get by in Turkey without a few well chosen swear words..


  6. Ah how lovely,great memories of Bodrums roads.I’m married to the guy who invented Turkish road rage(LOL)so here are a few of the more printable things I’ve heard drip from his lips when behind the wheel.(BTW,hıyar does mean cuecumber but also denotes some one of vegetable mentality too!).
    Yuh galak!-(hey you moron!)
    Yavşak oğlu yavşak(son of flea larvae)
    Hadi oküz!(hurry up you bullock!)
    Anasının eşeksin!(you are your Mothers donkey!)
    Araban g***n sokacağım(I’ll shove the car up your arse!)
    A drive out with him is always a linguisitic treat……provided I take a tranquilizer before we leave home.☺


  7. I learned a lot of swear words when I first came here, such as why, when you’re a teacher, you should always say “I’m ill” instead of “I’m sick.” But I never learned how to use them properly until I watched football with, and rode in the car with my husband. Then it gets really fun, with the “I’ll fuck your mother’s midwife” and “I’ll fuck your brain.”

    I remember one time a Turkish guy got really mad at me and, shaking his fist, said to me in English, “I’ll fuck your mother!” My reaction was not the one he was looking for, as I was completely bemused and wondered aloud, “Why on earth would you want to do that, and what does that have to do with anything?”

    I’ve also learned that, in chasing off curb crawlers and such, swearing at them in English has no effect. “Fuck off, you son of a bitch piece of shit motherfucker” just sounds like ” fuck fuck” to them, and excites them all the more. So does spitting in their faces, apparently.

    I also love it how ordinary words can become serious fightin’ words in Turkish, in the right situation with the right tone of voice– hayvan, manyak, it, öküz, and my favorite, terbiyesiz. And I love it when old people call naughty teens “hain.”


  8. Thanks to Dina for a post that got people talking. Let’s hope none of the naughty Turkish words turn up in some bean counter’s censorship sweep. This is Turkey!


  9. hehehe – vivid desciption much enjoyed 🙂 I love Turkish swearwords especially the ones my hubby uses on the road. I think they are a little too graphic to repeat here tho. The best bit is the shocked look on the Turk male faces when they get a mouthful from one of us Yabanci’s!


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