Turkey 315: Cultural Phrases and Sayings

Every language has its “cultural” sayings.  Things that don’t necessarily make sense when taken literally upon translation.  An example of an English (particularly American) cultural saying is- “get a kick out of that”, meaning something is funny.  Turkish has a LOT of cultural sayings.  They make perfect sense when you have adjusted your ears and mind to Turkish, but when first getting off the plane…you may get a little lost.  I have listed several sayings that I hear frequently, that I had trouble with, and that are just plain fun to say!

Much like in America, religion has a bit of an influence on cultural sayings.  However, even atheists can use some of the more “religious” sayings and not feel out of place.  Even if you aren’t Muslim or necessarily religious, feel free to use all of these!

And just to make pronunciation easier, if you don’t already know them…these are the Turkish letters you will see, and their sounds

Ş- sh (as in shoot)

Ç-ch (as in change)

Ü- ew (with a Cartman sound from south park)(no real translation to an english sound, but close enough)

Ğ- eh (as if swallowing)

ö- oo (as in spook)

You know, this really hard to explain by typing… maybe you should go with a good old youtube search.

In Good Times, and In Bad

Hayırlı olsun- congratulations, but in a slightly religious/ blessed way. –

You got the job? Hayirlı olsun! 🙂

Hayırlısı olsun- that’s unfortunate, It’s up to God

You didn’t get the job? Hayirlısı olsun…:(

Allah (çok) şukur- Thank God (very much)

You made it home safely, allah şukur!

Aferin- good job

You made a 100 on your test? Aferin!

Coming and Going

Hoş geldin- welcome (you came nice)

*when opening the door to guests* Hoş geldin!

Hoş bulduk- the response to hoş geldin (we found you nice)

*cheek kisses are exchanged* hoş bulduk!

Görüşürüz- see you later! For friends/relatives

*upon leaving* Görüşürüz!

Hoşça kal- Good bye (stay nicely), more formal

*upon leaving* Hoşça kal!

In Sickness and In Health

(Gelmiş) Geçmiş olsun- a wish for a sick person to get well, or for someone who is struggling with something to get through it (translates to: (it came), let it pass)

I heard you have a cold, geçmiş olsun

You have been going through a hard time lately, geçmiş olsun

Sıhatlar olsun- say after someone has taken a shower/ got a haircut/ cut their nails, etc. More popular amongst the older generation (a wish for good health)

Sıhatlar olsun! That haircut looks nice on you.

Şıfa olsun- another wish for health, usually associated with eating something healthy or taking medicine

Drink this tea, şıfa olsun!

Food and Gifts

Eline/ellerine/elinize/ellerinize sağlık- Wishing health to the hands of a person.  Complimenting a chef or artist/worker (e.g. delicious food, a beautiful painting, a well-designed door, etc). The reason this one has many / options is due to pluralizing and formalizing, which is a grammar thing I won’t get into unless asked 😉

This food is delicious, eline sağlık!

Afiyet olsun- the Turkish version of bon apetit (enjoy it), also used as a response to elini sagolik.

This food is delicious, eline sağolik!

Afiyet olsun.

Güle güle kullan- Said to someone who received a new…thing…for using. Anything but clothes, really. (Use it well!)

*gives a new power tool* güle güle kullan!

Güle güle gi- said to someone who received new clothes (Wear it well!)

I love your new jacket, güle güle gi!

Of course, this list is nowhere near complete! To be honest, I probably haven’t even heard all of the different cultural sayings that Turks use.  While this is the hardest part of learning a new language/ being an expat, it is also the part that makes you feel most connected to your new home- once you start to learn it.

Drop a comment below with more sayings, or instances where you used one of these correctly/ wrong!

Until next time, Görüşürüz!

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