Please and thank you (and sorry), part V: please

We wrap up this series on everyday pleasantries (until I think of one I forgot) with the word “please.”

Turkish swiped its word for “please” from Arabic, as it turns out that for most uses you will use lütfen. Take, for example, the phrase lütfen penceresi açın, or “please open the window.” You might also use the phrase rica ederim, which we’ve also seen as a possible response to being thanked and which, come to think of it, is also swiped from Arabic (rica is, anyway).

You might also use isterseniz, which derives from the verb istemek, “to want,” and means “if you want.” It’s a polite way to couch a request just as “please” is.


Please and thank you (and sorry), part IV: forgive me

Sometimes a simple apology isn’t enough, let alone a simple “pardon me.” At those times you’ll need to talk the language of forgiveness. Luckily for us, we’ve already done it without really knowing it. There are three ways to say “forgive me” in Turkish, and we’ve already seen all of them: affedersiniz, from the verb affetmek, kusura bakmayın (literally “Don’t look at (my) flaw!”), and bağışlayın, from the verb bağışlamak. “Forgiveness” might be bağışlayıcılık, af, or affetme. “I forgive you” would be Seni affediyorum or Seni bağışlıyorum. “To be forgiven” would be the passive, bağışlanmak or affedilmek.


Don’t let it be said that this blog can’t be topical, because I’m sitting here wondering what crazy trick I can try to get rid of the hiccups when it occurred to me that I don’t know the word for hiccup in any of my languages of interest. A few minutes of research later, here’s what I have to tell you. A hiccup in Turkish is hıçkırık, from the verb hıçkırmak, which means both “to hiccup” and “to sob.” It also combines with the verb tutmak (“to keep,” “to hold”) in a compound verb, hıçkırık tutmak, that means “to have the hiccups.” In English we probably say “I have the hiccups” more often than we say “I am hiccuping,” but both are possible in Turkish. “I have the hiccups” could be hıçkırığım var (remember that, in Turkish, the concept of possession is represented by the phrase “my/your/his/her _____ exists”), but the better form would probably be hıçkırık tutuyorum. “I am hiccuping” would be hıçkırıyorum, but as this might also mean “I am sobbing,” you may want to avoid this one.

Please and thank you (and sorry), part III: excuse me, pardon me

For those times when you need to excuse yourself but a full-on apology isn’t necessary, you might consider the equivalent of the English phrases “excuse me” or “pardon me.” Generally you should rely on the verb affetmek, which combines a borrowed Arabic root afa, meaning “pardon” or “excuse,” with the Turkish auxiliary verb etmek. “Pardon me!” or “Excuse me!” would be the second person plural of the simple present (or “aorist”) tense, Affedersiniz!

Alternatives include the Turkish forms of apology kusura bakmayın and özür dilerim, as well as bağışlayın, which is actually stronger, more like “forgive me,” which is a topic for another time. There is one other possibility, and stop me if you’ve heard this somewhere before: pardon. If there’s a language Turkish loves to borrow from almost as much as Arabic and Persian, it’s French.