Please and thank you (and sorry), part I: Thank you and you’re welcome

Now here’s a topic that’s so basic I can’t believe I haven’t done it yet.

If you know how to say “thank you” in Arabic then you’ll recognize the Turkish phrase teşekkür ederim, from the Arabic tashakkur for “thanks” combined with the Turkish helper verb etmek to mean “to thank,” then conjugated into simple present first person singular. You could skip the verb altogether and just say teşekkürler (“thanks”), and adding the Turkish word çok (“very”) to either (çok teşekkürler, for example) makes “thanks a lot.” A more Turkish way to say thanks is sağol (or sağolun for talking to a group or more formally), which literally is a command to “be well” but idiomatically means “thanks” or “cheers.”

There are many options in terms of a response: estağfurullah comes from an Arabic phrase begging God’s forgiveness, but here it means something like “don’t mention it”; rica ederim (from rica etmek) means to ask or make a request, but like the Persian khwahish mi konam it has an idiomatic meaning in this situation; buyrun literally means something like “here you are” but is often used here; and (my favorite) bir şey değil literally means “it’s nothing.”


Turkish and the Arabic verb jamaʿa, “to collect”

Over at the Arabic blog we’re breaking down the verb jamaʿa, which means “to collect” or “to gather,” to see how a single root verb can become several derived verbs and concepts, while at the Persian blog we’re looking at how that Arabic root was adopted by Persian to mean largely the same thing. That kind of borrowing goes on from Arabic to Turkish as well, and from Persian to Turkish, and from Turkish to both of the other two languages, but unfortunately this particular Arabic root isn’t that instructive since it wasn’t really adopted by Turkish except in a couple of derivations. The most important of these is the Turkish word cami, or “mosque,” which is the Arabic jāmiʿ. In Arabic this refers specifically to the large, communal type of mosque in which Friday group prayer would be conducted, and that’s also basically true in Turkish, where the word mescit (the Arabic masjid) is used to refer to smaller venues suitable for individual prayer. Another important Turkish use of the Arabic root is cemaat, “community,” although there is also a common Turkish word for “community” that you’ll see below.

The Turkish verb toplamak means “to collect” or “to gather.” Some vocabulary related to this and to the derivations of jamaʿa that you’ll find on the other two blogs:

  • toplantı: meeting (in the sense of convention or assembly)
  • toplama: collection, gathering, concentration
  • toplu: collective
  • topluluk: community
  • biriktirmek: to accumulate (toplamak can also have this meaning)
  • dernek: association, society
  • birlik: unity
  • üniversite: university
  • fikir birliği: consensus (fikir is “idea,” so literally “united idea”)

Bayramınız mübarek olsun (Kurban Bayramı)

Today marks the celebration of the second (and more important) of the two Islamic festivals, the Festival of the Sacrifice, known in Arabic as Eid al-Adha but in Turkish as Kurban Bayramı. “Bayram” simply means “feast” or “festival,” just like “Eid,” and “Kurban” comes (probably via Persian) from another (aside from “Adha”) Arabic word for “sacrifice.” I wrote about the holiday on my Arabic blog.

Aside from the name, there is one other vocabulary change from Arabic to Turkish: the animals that are sacrificed to commemorate the holiday, which are called adhiyah in Arabic, are called kurbanı in Turkish. Appropriate greetings for the festival are the same as in Arabic and the same as those used for the other Bayram, Ramazan Bayramı (“Ramadan Festival”): Bayramınız Mübarek olsun (“May your festival be blessed”) and Bayramınız kutlu olsun (“May your festival be happy”).

Hajj and pilgrimage vocabulary

The Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim who is able is required to undertake at least once in their lives, begins this weekend, and I have written a length piece about it over there. I won’t repeat all the details about the Hajj here, just some of the vocabulary, which is largely unchanged from the Arabic.

  • Hajj: Hac (hac means pilgrimage in general)
  • Umrah (the lesser pilgrimage to Mecca that can be undertaken any time of the year): Umre
  • Mecca: Mekke
  • Medina: Medine
  • Ihram, the state of ritual purity required of all pilgrims: ihram
  • The Mosque of the Holy Place, or Masjid al-Haram, the mosque in Mecca: al-Haram Camii
  • The Kaaba, the black cube-shaped structure at the heart of the Masjid al-Haram: Kâbe
  • Tawaf, the ritual circumnabulation of the Kaaba that begins and ends the pilgrimage: tavaf
  • Mount Arafat, where Muhammad gave his final sermon and the central location of the pilgrimage: Arafat Dağı
  • Hajji, one who has completed the Hajj: Hacı
  • Hajj Mubarak (“Congratulations on the Hajj”), the greeting to offer a Hajji: Hac Mübarek