Turkey 315: Olur vs Olsun

Welcome to the third installment of Turkish Cultural Sayings, a subset of my other “Turkey Lessons” (available under said category).

Today we will address a pair of words that still confuse me sometimes.  I even had to ask hubby just now, to make sure my explanation was correct.  I’m talking about

olur vs olsun

Both words come from the root verb olmak, meaning “to be”.  But the variation in the endings give them a slightly different meaning.  Both words are used very frequently (daily…maybe even hourly), making understanding them critical to a successful Turkish conversation.

 Olur:  “it is”

Olsun:  “it shall be”

 So how does one use this, culturally?

 In the most general sense, olur is typically applied to something definite.  As in, it is this way, or no way.  On the contrary, olsun is usually said when you are compromising, or it isn’t really ideal, but can be as it is.

That wasn’t very clear was it…let’s use an example!

  At the pazar, you collect a bag of oranges.  You give it to the vendor, saying you want 2 kilos.  The bag comes to 2.5kg, to which you say olsun, and pay for the 2.5 kg.

 In the same pazar, you make a stop at a sweater stand.  You hold one up to you, and it is perfect!  Your companion looks to you, and asks if it’ll work (olur mu?) to which you respond, olur! Someone is going home with a new sweater!

While this is a hard and fast rule for olur vs olsun, they can commonly be interchanged, depending on the situation.  Different people in different cities may utilize these two terms with different levels of severity.

 Go out and give your new vocabulary a try!

aka, reason to go to the pazar

Are there any cultural phrases/words you struggle with?

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!