Monday, 15 April 2013

Turkish works

Sinemaya gitmeyi seviyorum

In Marmaris, where the movie offering this winter has been very pedestrian, I can't imagine a situation where I'd want to say, as above, "I like to go to the cinema". But the excitement of being able to construct a sentence with a noun, a preposition and two verbs is...almost better than being afloat. And being afloat again after five days in the yard is pretty damn good.

View from the back deck
She's got a big belly to cover in anti-foul

New letterhead

Alex and Mehmet - overseers

The best thing about hauling out is re-launching. Nobody likes being on the hard, even if the work done there is done well, as ours has been. Mehmet Guven (above) and his wife Seval turned it around efficiently and pleasantly. See that shine, watch Enki go.

Hussein's polishing rag is a wad of kapok

Shiny boats, like shiny cars, go faster - they say
But back to speaking (or rather, learning) Turkish.
Our friend Agnes, who speaks five languages well, claims you need 50 words to get by. When in Portugal, you pull out your 50 words of Portuguese, when in Greece, your 50 words of Greek etc. If you speak English, you're way ahead because English is not only the language of the sea but it's also the language of the internet (there's also Google Translate to get you out of a serious linguistic hole, as we discovered in Sicily). So why bother with the fiendish twists and turns of Turkish grammar?

I don't know. Because it's fun? Now, when I go to the market, I can mostly make myself understood, give or take the occasional blank look. Bir tane taze sogan lutfen - one bunch of spring onions, please. How's that? It's much harder to understand what's said to me, but I've learned to say tekrar lutfen (please repeat). I get a buzz out of recognising written words and that's happening more and more.

Language reveals itself in stages, but there are breakthrough moments. This morning was one of those. Zehra, who isn't a teacher but one of us, a boater and a Turk (those two are not often one and the same), decided that the time had come to introduce us to verbs. Not just a few useful phrases which include verbs - like "I don't understand Turkish" and "Do you speak English?"-  but a cluster of common verbs in their infinitive forms. You can do so much more in Turkish with an infinitive at hand, it turns out.

Yapin! (please do it - from the verb yakmak, to do)
I'm not saying it's easy, but Turkish has its own logic, and when you get the logic, then the language becomes seductive. The scattergun approach of the tourist phrase book is completely useless to me. I can't hold onto random words.  If you give them to me in their barest form, like roses pruned right back to their root stock, I start to see how words grow and blossom into the extravagant forms that constitute conversational Turkish.

Sogak bira icmeyi seviyorum

"I love to drink cold beer."

That sentence definitely has a future once the unstable weather of April has passed through.

Sicak kuzu ve beyaz pilav yemeyi seviyorum

"I like to eat warm lamb and spiced rice".

I've been playing around in the galley, using a cookbook called Secrets of the Turkish Kitchen, written by an Englishwoman called Angie Mitchell Sunkur who, I believe, is married to a Turk and lives in Bodrum. A couple of nights ago I made her lamb shanks and spring greens recipe (Terbiyeli kuzu kapama). The shanks are cooked on top of the stove (I used the pressure cooker) in a broth and covered with lots of spring onions, lettuce leaves and other spring greens (I used beetroot leaves), garlic and dill.

Alex wasn't convinced by the lamb, but then he has bad childhood memories of boiled mutton. I enjoyed everything - kuzu, pilav ve fava.

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