Friday, February 19, 2010

Why Bariş Is a Funny Man

First, a great deal of background is in order.  It is probably skippable, but as long as you have invested the effort in reading this post, why not just read through the whole thing?

There are a bunch of language schools in Ankara, particularly around the city center in Kızılay.  I am actually a little surprised that they can all stay in business, since it must mean that a sizable percent of the population is taking language classes at any given time.  In my own experience, this seems to mesh.  I know two Turks (independent of those that I know from my own language school) that are taking some foreign language at one of these schools.

The schools usually teach English primarily.  Apparently, English is seen as a pretty critical skill.  Even if you are not fluent, it helps when applying for jobs (and the unemployment rate is still pretty high in Turkey) to say you have taken some English.  Because of the importance of English, most of these schools have the work English in their title.  There’s Wall Street English, English Time, and Royal English (this one was a block from my house in Kocatepe and had the great motto (English for the Royal!).  My school is called Active English.  I get the impression that it is one of the more reputable schools in the area, though still not as well known as TOMER.

Active English is actually a serious misnomer.  Though English is still the school’s bread and butter, there are also courses in Turkish, Spanish, German, Chinese, French and various computer programs.  There is also a Russian program, but it’s located on a separate floor (which we have dubbed the Russian Quarter) and it may be owned by someone else.

Anyway, and to get more on topic, our Turkish classes started as morning classes three times a week (for a rather long four hours each day).  The teacher was pretty good, especially when it came to charades.  She was also wildly attractive, and personable in a way that made students not want to cross her for fear that she might get upset.

Unfortunately, because of our university schedules, we had to switch to an evening class.  Our new teacher, Bariş, did a good job in his first day of convincing us that he was the dullest teacher ever to set foot in a classroom.  He was alarmed that we were a week ahead of his class, and spent a lot of time marveling at all the workbook pages we had done.  We agreed to come back in a week and see if the class had picked up to the point where we had left off.

Class two with Bariş was a lot better.  The man is outright goofy and always wants to impress us with how cool he is.  It turns out that Bariş is not very cool, but that is exactly what makes the class so entertaining.  In addition to some useful Turkish, we have now learned:

How to say “I hate myself” in Turkish.  For those looking to pick up on some Turkish phrases at home, you say “Kendimden nefret ediyorum.”

A rather long list of things that Turkish women like to receive as gifts, in both Turkish and English

How to ask to get off the bus four different ways (mostly varying in how rude they are)

How to ask “Are you available?” for both busses and romantic interests (Müsait misin?)

How to say both “shit” (bok) and “same shit every day” (bi bok yok).  The latter of the two is actually more useful, since my Turkish friends often ask how I am, and love to hear foreigners swearing in Turkish (I think this is actually universal across languages).

That raw oysters sold off the street are apparently safe to eat.  Several other Turks have disagreed with this assertion.  Fortunately, two of the students in our group, Johnny and Nick, decided to test for themselves last night.  I saw Johnny this morning looking about as healthy as he does every morning (that is, not very much until his first cup of coffee).  I’m still not sure how long it takes for food poisoning to set in.

Things one should say at various points in a relationship (reproduced from my notes, below):
     o         Gün 1: Ben senden çok hoşlanıyorum (Day 1: I like you a lot)
     o  Gün 15: Seni çok seviyorum (Day 15: I love you very much)
     o  Gün 60: Senden nefret ediyourm (Day 60: I hate you)

That Hooters is one of the finest restaurants in America, specializing in chicken wings.  As Bariş explained in half-Turkish, half-English, he is aware of Hooters because his friend from America gave him a Hooters shirt as a gift.  I think that Bariş was convinced that voicing his love for Hooters (which again, he has never been to) would make him more popular with the Americans in the room (none of whom have actually been to Hooters).  We told him that it was indeed a very famous restaurant, known for its wings and other offerings.

Long story short, I haven’t been looking forward to Turkish class this much since I went for two weeks without being able to use verbs.

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