Thursday, January 14, 2010

Languages and Babies

I had my first Turkish language class on Monday. I was supposed to be there at 8:30, though I had apparently not effectively conveyed this to my host family (every other day, class starts at 9). By 8:10, I think I made it clear to my host mother that I needed to leave by 8:15 or so, but by then she had made me a hardboiled egg that she insisted I eat (in addition to the eclectic mix of other things that comprise a Turkish breakfast). I think she said something about it being my first day, so it didn’t matter if I was late, but I could have been making that part up (It sounded like Oblarıd adsnfo ığö vıdçedfı). Either way, I showed up about 20 minutes late on a count of the breakfast issue and the fact that the Google map I printed out before I left sent me in the wrong direction. I still beat two members of our group, including Johnny, who was driven by his host parents, and seemed a little shaken by the ordeal*.

The class was entertaining, though it looks like it may be several weeks until I will be able to communicate much of anything. I have been taking to following around my host parents, smiling and saying how good everything is. To be fair, I can only say “good,” which is probably grammatically incorrect without adding some sort of declension. At least now I know how to say good as in “great” and good as in “fine” (the latter of which I have been using to say I understand something). I am suspicious that my host parents think I am retarded, since besides the language issue, I have not mastered basic tasks like unlocking the door yet.

The whole thing has actually been less frustrating than I would have expected; it helps that I have very low expectations for myself. Yesterday, my host mother took me to see her son, his wife and their new baby. Her son started taking an English class a few weeks ago (I am guessing, though he when I asked him how long he has been learning, he was confused). He is just a little better at English than I am at Turkish, which I found pretty reassuring. The baby was absolutely adorable. It was entertaining to hear Turkish baby talk, which is more rhythmic than American baby talk and makes about as much sense to me as regular Turkish. Turks seem to playfully hit and push their babies more than Americans (who, as I recall, do more poking and tickling).

As an aside, though I will probably be posting to the blog quite a bit, I will be doing less replying to email, facebook, etc. It’s nothing personal, but it seems like all the internet cafes provide their own computers, and the Turkish keyboards on them are not easy to type with. The main problem is that there are two i letters in Turkish, one with a dot and one without. As a result, I need to use different keys for capitol and lowercase is. It took me five minutes the last time I went to an internet café to figure out that I couldn’t log in because I was typing in “davidarolfe” with a dot-less i.

*I am sure I will be talking a lot about Turkish driving, but let me reiterate that I would be surprised if driving was not the leading cause of death in this country. Unlike in most of America, where drivers yield to pedestrians, Turkish drivers will only avoid a pedestrian if they are stopped at a light or cannot make it to the pedestrian in time. So far, I have been waiting at intersections for the Turks around me to cross the street and then I book it to the other side.


  1. Hooray! I'm so glad you got a blog. I am as entertained as expected!

  2. Hey man, doors are difficult to unlock... keep yo chin up. And if your host family calls you retarded, at least you won't realize it.