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June 18, 2002

May the state bird land on your head
Posted by Teresa at 09:06 PM *

Selections from The Plain English Meanings of Turkish Idioms, part of the Learning Practical Turkish website:

cami yIkIlmIs ama mihrabI yerinde: She may have aged, but she’s still good-looking.

Literally: The mosque has been toppled but the mihrab is still in place. (Note: the mihrab is the niche in the mosque wall that indicates the direction of Mecca. )

fare delige sIgmamIs, bir de kuyruguna kabak baglamIs: For someone to take on new responsibilities when he can’t handle the ones he has; or, for someone who is not welcome himself to bring someone else along with him.

Literally: To not fit into a mouse hole; to fasten a pumpkin to the tail.

hem kel, hem fodul: Said of someone who makes great claims for himself, but lacks competence.

Literally: To be both bald and vain.

IsItIp IsItIp f6nfcne koymak: To continuously repeat stories about the past to the point of weariness.

Literally: To warm and warm and put to the front.

ahret suali: A tiresome and difficult question.

Literally: A question that will be asked at the gates of heaven.

Al birini, vur e7arp f6tekine: None of them are useful; or, One of them is no better than the other; or, It all needs fixing.

Literally: Take one of them and hit the other with it.

ana avrat dfcmdfcz gitmek: To swear a blue streak.

Literally: To go straight forward, including mother and wife

AnasInI satayIm!: Oh, what the hell—it’s not that important; or, What will be, will be; or, Damn it!

Literally: Let’s sell his mother!

battI balIk yan gider: FUBAR: The situation’s in such a mess that there’s no use trying to do anything about it.

Literally: The fish has sunk and now swims sideways.

bayram degil, seyran degil eniste beni niye f6ptfc?: There must be something behind this…

Literally: It’s not festival time, it’s not a pleasure trip, [so] why did my brother-in-law kiss me?

zonk zonk: Used to intensify zonklamak (throb with pain).

burnundan fitil fitil gelmek: To suffer so terribly after making a big gain that you wish you’d never made it in the first place; to have something go terribly wrong which should have been very pleasant.

Literally, for wicks or fuses to come from the nose. In a related phrase, KazandIgImIz burnumuzdan geldi, “We suffered greatly because of our previous gains,” means literally “Our previous gains came from our noses.”

basIna e7orap f6rmek: To plot against someone; to prepare a trap for them.

Literally: To knit a sock for the head.

basIna devlet kusu konmak: To have a stroke of luck; to attain happiness; to win a prize or the lotto.

Literally: For the state bird to land on your head.

agzI df6rt kf6se olmak: To be all smiles.

Literally: To be four corners mouth.

bundan iyisi Sam’da kayIsI: It doesn’t get any better than this.

Literally: Better than this is an apricot in Damascus.

zfcgfcrt (zfcgfcr) tesellisi: An unimportant trifle that a person pretends is important in order to console himself about a major loss or failure

Literally: Penniless consolation.

burnunu sIksan canI e7Ikar: Being greatly distressed.

Literally: If you squeeze the nose, the life goes out. As in, for instance, c7ok fczfcnfctfclfc gf6rfcnfcyor; burnunu sIksan canI e7Ikacak: “She seems very upset; if you squeeze her nose, her life will go out.”

zemberegi bosalmak: To be seized by a fit of laughter.

Literally: For the mainspring to be emptied.

Comments on May the state bird land on your head:
#1 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2002, 11:29 PM:

I just sent E-mail to my MIT roommate Deniz, who hails from Izmir. I want her to verify the literal translations for me, just because. Have I ever mentioned that I can count to ten and say yes and no in Turkish? It has never benefited me, but maybe it'll come up on the next game show I try out for.

#2 ::: Beth ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2002, 10:20 AM:

If only I still had that menu from the pizza restaurant in Pamukkale. The back of the menu had a list of handy Turkish to English phrases, starting out with innocuous phrases ("Hello, my name is..."), moving on to pick-up lines ("What is your sign?"), then verging into the ominous ("We need a doctor" and "Call an ambulance").

The pizza was good, too, even with the pickles.

#3 ::: Steven ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2002, 11:13 AM:

Let me get this straight.

In the vicinity of New York, a bluebird lands on my head. The natives tell me I'm lucky.
(Concerns about avian hygiene notwithstanding, I'll run with this)

In Louisiana an Eastern Brown Pelican lands on my head.
(I'm getting nervous...)

In Alabama a Yellowhammer lands on my head.
(...runs away back to England where we don't have state birds)

#4 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2002, 11:27 AM:

Steven, you probably want to stay away from New Mexico, too.

What *is* the state bird of Turkey, anyway?

#5 ::: Steven Cain ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2002, 04:29 PM:

OK Teresa. Admit it. You set me up.

The answer to your question is *turdus iliacus*, and I'm not letting that on my head.

For readers who find Latin distressing (and today that includes me) the national bird of Turkey is also known as the redwing.
For listeners tuning in from Alabama, your other state bird is the turkey.

#6 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2002, 04:38 PM:

Did not! I had no idea that was the bird, or that that was its scientific name. It was a freebie.

#7 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2002, 12:55 AM:

Thanks for emptying my mainspring.

I do in fact have a co-worker who is both bald and vain, and that could well be a pumpkin fastened to his tail.

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