Today we’re talking about money, which in Turkish is para or nakit (after the Arabic nuqud). “Currency” is also para, but can also be döviz, particularly when it refers to foreign currency.

The currency in Turkey is the lira, which is a holdover from the final currency of the Ottoman Empire, and it is divided into 100 kuruş, which had been the main currency of the Ottoman Empire before it was supplanted by the lira in 1844.

In terms of asking about prices, the simplest way is to say Bu kaça?, “How much is this?” or just Kaça?, “How much?” Bu kaç para? is “How much money is this?” I guess you could go that direction if bartering is an option but you’d rather pay cash. Bu ne kadar? also says “How much is this?” Obviously if you know the word for whatever you’re asking about, it can be substituted for bu.


Make a name for yourself

Modern Turkish names look a lot like most European names: first name (ad), and surname/family name (soyadı). This is thanks to a 1934 law, creatively called the Law on Family Names, that required all Turks to adopt some kind of surname. Prior to that, Turkish names probably looked a lot like the typical Arab name, where the “surname” may just identify the person via anything from their occupation to their birthplace.

Many Turkish first names still resemble Arab given names, but they are rendered in the modern Turkish (modified Latin) alphabet; back in Ottoman times, when everything was written in Arabic script anyway, they would have been identical to their Arabic counterparts. But modern Turkish Latinizes Arabic words based on how they sound (according to the modern Turkish alphabet) rather than how they’re written in Arabic script, so (for example) the common Arab name “Abd al-Rahman” becomes “Abdurrahman,” and “Jamal” becomes “Cemal.”

Surnames are passed patrilineally, from father to children, and can hearken back to the family’s geographic origins or tribal origins, or really whatever the head of that family picked when the 1934 law went into effect, but may also indicate descent from an important ancestor. Surnames that end in -oğlu and -zade (from Persian) indicate descent from whatever name that particle is added on, though -zade indicates that the ancestor was someone of noble birth whereas -oğlu refers to commoners.

When asking for someone’s name, the question “what is your name?” is adınız ne? and the response is “my name is _____,” benim adım _____, or “I’m _____,” ben _____.

Eating meals

One of the most popular Ramadan customs is the evening meal that breaks the day’s fast (literally “breakfast” even though it happens in the evening), called iftar, taken from Arabic. With that in mind, this post will be about eating food–not about food or kinds of foods, but about eating food and particularly the different meals of the day.

“to eat” = yemek

“food” = gıda (from Arabic) or yemek (if using yemek, then “to eat food” would be yemeği yemek)

“meal” = yemek, again, or öğün

“breakfast = kahvaltı, which is related, funny enough, to kahve or “coffee,” and in fact would seem to derive from it; kahve is taken from Arabic (and may have been taken by Arabic from an Ethiopic word) and presumably must have come into Turkish before the word kahvaltı could have been formed

“brunch” = branç

“lunch” = öğle yemeği (“noon meal, öğle meaning “noon”)

“dinner” or “supper” = akşam yemeği (“evening meal,” akşam meaning “evening”)

“snack” = aperatif, which should be recognizable, or meze, from Persian, or hafif yemek, “light meal,” hafif coming from Arabic

İyi Ramazanlar!

There’s much more about the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which begins this evening for most Muslims around the world, over on the Arabic blog, if you’re so inclined.

My purpose here is only to give you some Turkish greetings you can offer for the month. If you’ve read that Arabic entry then this will be pretty simple, because we’re just using the same Arabic greetings, albeit with the Persian pronunciation “Ramazan” rather than the Arabic “Ramadan.” These are Ramazan mübarek (you could go with Mübarek Ramazan, also, and Ramazan mübarek olsun), “Blessed Ramadan!” or “May (your) Ramadan be blessed,” and Ramazan kerim, “Generous Ramadan!” A more authentically Turkish greeting would be the title of this post, İyi Ramazanlar, (“Good Ramadan!”) or Hayırlı Ramazanlar (“Auspicious Ramadan”). You may also hear or see Hoşgeldin Ya Şehr-i Ramazan or Hoşgeldin Ramazan, which means “Welcome Ramadan!”

To move (relocate)

I realize that things have been quiet around here for a while, but this entry might help explain why.

“My family and I have moved to Virginia” = Ailem ve ben Virjinya’ya taşındık

Couple of things to note: the Turkish past tense (the form that uses the “di” suffix, as we learned recently) can mean simple past or present perfect, so “moved” as well as “have moved.” The “a” or “ya” suffix added to “Virjinya” means “to”; Turkish generally uses a suffix for this kind of thing rather than a preposition. Taşınmak is the reflexive form of taşmak (“to move”), so this gets at the idea that we moved ourselves rather than moving something else.

Anyway, that’s why things haven’t been happening around here of late, but I’ll try to do better moving forward.