Turkey 315: Cultural sayings, session 2

It was my husband’s idea to continue this segment of Turkey Lessons indefinitely, and I will probably make a new sub-category for it. This idea arose when I was listening to the song Bangır Bangır by Gülşen.  Fair warning- great song, crap video IMO.  If I wanted to watch scantily clad ladies twerking, I’d watch an American video.  But that’s just me 😉

Anyway, I listened to the song, filled in the lyrics, and found a few things I didn’t understand the translation of.  That’s when hubby said that I should put such things on my blog, that many other (american) English speakers may run into these cultural differences as well.  Here are three that he had to explain to me (two are from the song- do you hear them?)

Gül gibi- like a rose

Turkish meaning: something that is nice/enjoyable/lovely.  For example, if hubby is watching a movie and I come in and bother him, he may say to me “Babe, I was watching this movie gül gibi…why are you bothering me?”

American meaning:  Like a rose also means lovely, but usually we refer only to women in that way. You can’t perform an action that is “like a rose” in (american) english, unless you are being quite directly figurative.  E.g. She pricked me, like a rose.  Meaning, the girl is likely both beautiful and also “thorny” in her actions.  Turkish isn’t limited to such direct meanings.

Havalanmak- to hover

Turkish meaning: Besides actual hovering, figuratively hovering means to have an elevated sense of self worth. Be stuck up/ full of one’s self.

American meaning: Again, besides the literal meaning, hovering usually means to stick close to someone.  A lot of times this is used to intimate that the hovering person either doesn’t trust the person who they are hovering over (in romantic relationships), or they are very controlling/worrying (parents).

Güven vermek- to give trust

This one is particularly confusing for me, because the use of this verb is opposite in American English and Turkish. For the sake of the explanation, let’s refer to the person who is actively trusting as the truster, and the person who is being trusted is the trustee (because objects, direct objects, etc are just no fun).

Turkish meaning:  In Turkish, the trustee “gives trust” to the truster.  Effectively meaning that giving trust, in Turkish, means doing something that indicates trusting the trustee is a good idea. E.g. I  give trust to my manager when I give them a full write up of the project.

American meaning:  In American English, however, it is the truster who gives trust to the trustee. Normally in English you can get away with simply saying they “trust” rather than “give trust”, but you can say “give” to make the sentiment stronger. E.g. Your friend must give you a lot of trusttrust you a lot if she co-signs your apartment with you.

So,  hopefully, I will have many sessions of Turkey 315: cultural sayings in the future.  Let me know if you like this idea!  As I said before, figuring out how to speak culturally rather than directly translating is one of the key (and hardest) parts of becoming fluent in a language.  Drop a comment below if you have a few cultural sayings you’ve figured out that you want to include!


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