Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Well, That Was Fun

And eight months later, language training is suddenly over.  I am evidently an FSI-designated proficient speaker of Turkish, and all that remains between me and Turkey is three weeks of learning how to write a cable and packing out.

I'd like to commemorate my 2/3 year of language training with a collection of some of the things I learned about Turkish.
  • You only need one verb per paragraph.  Any more would be an extravagance.
  • A sentence to make in order, your opposite thinkingness' being is necessary.
  • The word for cannibal is yamyam.  (Say it out loud for maximum hilarity.)
  • There are no Chinese cognates in Turkish.
  • I can make any verb I want by combining the English noun with the verb to do.  Reserve yapmak, piknik yapmak, brifing yapmak, stabyouintheface yapmak, etc.  It's quite handy. 
  • I learned more about running marathons this year than I ever wanted to know.  Unfortunately, I only learned it in Turkish, so I can't explain any of it in English.  Wait, did I say unfortunately?
  • If you can't remember the word in Turkish, pronounce the English word with a horrid French accent.  You have a 50/50 chance of being right.
  • I have the cutest grandmotherly vocabulary.  Knowing Arabic is useful in this language, but only if you don't mind sounding like you're an 85-year-old villager.
    • A corollary: all of the Arabic/Islamic/Arab phrases of politeness and cultural awareness that have been imprinted in my DNA?  Completely useless in Turkish, and use of them will probably label me as a religious nutcase.
  • I still can't use conditional sentences.  Luckily, I will only ever need to talk about factual events, so it's totally irrelevant that I can't say, "If you don't clear my HHE through customs in under three months, I am going to sit down in your office floor and scream until you give me my cooking pans."  
Yep, I think I'm prepared for post.


  1. Hilarious. May I say I'm so glad you went public with your blog? I'm just getting ready to start learning some Arabic. I have a feeling it'll be fun. Maybe as much fun as Turkish?

  2. Hysterical! My officemates now wonder why I am wandering around looking at them hungrily and saying yamyam.

  3. Çok guzel, Hannah, efindim. Sen istanbul gidiyor musun?

  4. Evet, İstanbul'a gideceyim! Nerede oturuyordunuz? Ve ne zamanda?

  5. It's Friday, and it’s the Weekly State Department Blog Roundup’s Three Month Blogiversary - and you're on it!

    Here is the link:


    (If I quoted your text or used your photo(s) and you would rather I had not, please let me know. Please also be sure to check the link(s) that I put up to you, in order to verify that they work properly. If you would rather that I had not referenced you, and/or do not want me to reference you in the future, please also contact me.)


  6. So how many opportunities do you think you'll have to use the word "cannibal" during this tour?

  7. Hannah -

    You are fabulous. I echo the gladness that has been expressed at your blog being public now. I went through it the other night (and I'm sure I'll read more in the future) and was glued to your thoughtful and honest writing. Your insights about life in Saudi were great.

    And thank you also for the generous offer. I already love this FS community and we're not even technically a part of it yet! (But my husband will be "active" on the register by next week. We are shooting for the August class) I couldn't find your email, but I am certainly keeping you in mind as we try and figure out this Italy thing. I think it will work out (Max will hopefully get his diplomat on) but I can't say how much I appreciate your generous offer.

    I will probably spend a good deal of my life in the Middle East I really appreciate your perspective on the region so far and will keep in touch.

  8. I am so proud of you for going public...but, then, I'm your mother.

  9. and I'm bringing the food for the party!

  10. Hannah,

    I read your blog all the time and love the wonderful view of Istanbul you have. I've only visited, but lived in Ankara for a year, so each time it was like Dorthy entering OZ.

    I am commenting here because my husband has passed his OA yea! but needs language points and since we living in Ankara we thought of Turkish. I was hoping that you had some advice/ a check list of FSI desires for a level 2 in Turkish.

    I look forward to hearing your impressions of Ankara when you get there.

  11. Ann Marie - send me an email at firstnamelastname@gmail.com (my full name is in the URL above). We can chat about the FSI Turkish program that way. Congrats to both of you for getting through the OA step!

  12. I just found this and being in Turkish class at post I can say this is a perfect summary of the language experience. I can't wait to use yamyam in my next class!