I shatter-broke my foot-finger

Posted on July 29, 2007 by Steve

Turkish is said to be a hard language for English speakers to get started with, but once you get the hang of agglutination, it's easy to improve since the patterns are so well defined. The scarcity of cognates makes vocabulary building a challenge, but I've found that a lot of words are simple portmanteaus. The meanings of these literal translations should be obvious:
  • foot-cover
  • foot-fingers
  • foot-wrist
  • head-finger
  • fruit-water
    I'm starting to find cases in which Turkish has more ways to say something than we have in English. My favorite is the two kinds of past tense, one of which is used when the speaker witnessed an event, the other when the speaker only heard about the event. Today I learned a second word meaning "to break." One word is used for broken mirrors and hearts. The other applies to plans, motors, and morale. To say a television is broken, you have to know if it just stopped working, or if it fell down and smashed into pieces.
  • Faux pas

    Posted on July 28, 2007 by Steve

    Ugh, nasty. I've done business in worse, though, and this is urgent. Why do elevens come so late on weekends? Two stalls, no waiting. Try Door Number One. Is it stuck? Try pulling from the top. Oops, rustling within. Remember walking in on that guy years ago? How mortifying. Stall Two is clear. Stupid latch is broken, jam it somehow. Paper -- check. Okay then. Yuck. How come sounds from the guy next door make me more sensitive about being audible to him? Focus now. What are you going to write in that blog. Wait, something's wrong. His ugly feet there, the Birkenstocks, what is it? What th-- painted toenails?! Oh, no. Can't be. Don't say anything, no one knows yet. Think, man, think!Were there urinals? No, you fool! Looks bad. Just wait for your chance to get out. How could this happen? They're painted, all right. Crap. I looked at the signs, standard logos. Why are those glyphs so similar? Can't call wife to have her check. Send a text message? No, wait it out. Okay, Birkenstocks is leaving, but someone else is here. Sneakers, that doesn't help. Wait, that's the unmistakable sound of micturition while the sneakers are facing the john! Saved!

    I looked around the store for the Birkenstocks afterwards to see if someone else had committed a fashion crime or social error, but they were nowhere to be seen.