Sunday 28 March 2010

A book that wouldn't be so popular in the UK

I'm not sure we'd see this book in an English school library.

Saturday 27 March 2010

Shake the Room

I had a dream last night. I could probably describe it as a nightmare. I don't remember much about it other than I was in an earthquake.

Well, according to reports, we've had a series of earthquakes here tonight. The weird thing is, I never actually feel them. Not that I especially want to. But the ones tonight seem to have been quite strong.

Take a look at the Bogazici University website which lists all the current seismic activity in Turkey.

I hope that'll be all the activity we see tonight.

Thursday 25 March 2010

You know you're in Turkey when... see benches like this.

Judging by the nut shells decorating the pavement, I'm guessing it was a man and a woman sitting side by side (but not too close). He had more of an appetite. They were leaning forward (otherwise the shells would be to the side of the bench). Perhaps it was rather heavy discussion about their relationship. Perhaps it was a clandestine meeting to discuss how she's going to introduce him to her father.

Maybe it was a father and his daughter. She's telling him of her new love and he's eating his hand off with stress. The sunflower seeds just aren't enough to distract him from the fact that his little girl is growing so fast. Soon she's going to be a woman and have a family of her own. This little girl who used to cry in his arms will now embrace another.

Or maybe it was a pisshead and his dog.

I'm afraid the secret is hidden deep in that pile of shells. I just hope they're both happy wherever they are (and that the salt didn't give them an ulcer).

Wednesday 24 March 2010

Famous Turks Special - Coşkun Göğen and Nuri Alço

What do the initials T.C. mean to you? As a child of the 80s, perhaps 'Topcat' for me. If you're Turkish, perhaps it's Türk Cumhuriyeti (The Turkish Republic). Well, that's what I thought but apparently, for a lot of Turks, another name springs to mind.

I only heard about this man the other night while sitting with friends, exploring the depths of YouTube. As they virtually flicked through the highlights of the golden age of Turkey's silver screen, I noticed a definite leaning towards videos depicting acts of sexual aggression. I began to fear for my own safety as my friends laughed manically at the brutal defloration of girl after girl. What was it? Why were they laughing?

I still don't know but I was introduced to the existence of this man, Coşkun Göğen. More commonly known as 'Tecavüzcü Coşkun' ('Coşkun the Rapist'), or 'T.C.' for short, this now 'comedic' character appears in many hundreds of classic Turkish movies.

"If you see him in a movie, you know he's the rapist" my girlfriend informed me. Right but why must there always be a rapist? And what if he wants a different role? What if he wants to move into childrens' theatre? There's no hope and, anyway, I think he's quite happy being typecast.

Born in Antalya in 1946 he was pretty much unknown until the 1972 film Asi Gençler where he forcibly took his first cherry and never looked back (well, just a few times to see whether anyone was coming).

As sure as Frankie Howerd will, at some point, exclaim "ooooooo" in any of the Carry On classics he appears in, Coşkun is sure to fuck someone without their consent. Here are a few of the wonderful comedy highlights of his career:

The second name here is Nuri Alço. Often seen working in colaboration with T.C., Nuri has a slightly different spin on vaginal trespass.

Where Coşkun uses brut force-play, Nuri wines and dines the lucky lady first. Shortly after dinner, the love interest swoons into his arms. Why? Because he's poured her a full bodied glass of Chateau du Rohypnol.

Yes Nuri wants chemistry in a relationship - preferably stirred into whatever she's drinking. Sometimes he'll even invite Coşkun round for a game of 'poke her'.

Born in Eskisehir in 1951, perhaps his parents dreamed of a future in medicine. Their dreams came true when Nuri's pharmaceutical talents eventually made him Turkey's number one professional sexual predator.

Let's take a moment to enjoy the work of this charming yet heavy handed date-rapist:

So there you have it - the cinematographic sex-scene Turkish style. Now excuse me while I expand my back catalogue of the Turkish classics. Remember, as the T-Shirt says, it's not rape if you shout "SURPRISE!" first.

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Famous Turks #4

Alec Issigonis

Date of birth:
18 November 1906
Died: 2 October 1988
Place of Birth: Izmir, Turkey (OK he was from a Greek community, but it still counts!)
Famous for: Inventing the mini!

Monday 22 March 2010

A Turkish brand that would probably do rather well in the UK

However, those hoping for a Turkish take on Hooters will be disappointed to be served by our friend here in the tank-top.

Sunday 21 March 2010

Children are still saying the funniest things ...though I'm getting bored of marking exams now

More joy from the exam pages:

Q: Who are you going to go shopping with?
A: I'm going with Chuck Norris LOL! (LOL=HAHA)

Thank God he translated LOL for me. This student keeps asking whether he can write his compositions in 'Textese' eg LOL, B4, UR etc. I say no.

Q: What's wrong with you?
A: My parents.

How do I mark that? He's either completely misunderstood or it's a very shrewd Larkin reference.

Q: What's wrong with you?
A: Some people polluted the sea.

Right you are. Hope you feel better soon.

Friday 19 March 2010

Children say the funniest things

I've just been marking the 6th grade exams. One section was an open dialogue giving the students a chance to write anything sensible in response to a question. Here's a response that made me put down my marking pen and say a few words of thanks to God. Please remember, this is a 10 year old Turkish student.

Question 1
Q: Where are you going this weekend?
A: I'm going to the supermarket.

Nice answer.

Question 2
Q: What's wrong with you?
A: I have a problem with my bowel.

Sorry, what? If I could give her more than 100%, I would. That answer alone should automatically grant her a Cambridge scholarship.

Thursday 18 March 2010

Random Turkish Fact #13

Nobody knows how old they are.

If you ask someone their age in Turkey, you'll rarely get an answer that doesn't require further explanation. The question "how old are you?" will provoke one or all of the following responses:

1. "I was born in 1960" - leaving you to do the maths.
2. "I've finished 40 and entering 41" - how old are you?
3. "I was born on 5 November but registered on the 5 December" - Sorry, what?

Because of this confusion, Turks speak in birth years - "he's a '73 boy". Though, this still wont indicate the exact age as it doesn't indicate birth month.

I was just sitting at lunch with children who were born in 2000 (yes, I gagged a little too) and they were trying to work out how old they were. 2010 minus 2000 and still sitting there counting on my fingers.

FYI Turkish friends, in the UK we talk about age in terms of completed years. eg a child is considered 1 after it completes its first year on Earth; it's not born aged 1. I, for example, am coming to the end of my 35th year. But, I still say I'm 34 because that's the number of years I've lived. Mind you, can I say I've really lived all those years? Regrets? I think that's for life to decide in time. But I've always smiled from the heart and that's what really counts. I remember my first teacher back in Tolworth Infants................

Wind in the Willies

I'm teaching Wind in the Willows to the 4th grade at the moment. I have to give the same lesson to each class and it can get a little tiresome listening to the same audio over and over again.

I had to do a double take when this came along though. Certainly brightened my day. What on earth does Rat think he's doing?

Tuesday 16 March 2010

It's all Greek to me #1 - The Alphabet

One of the greatest things about the Turkish language (despite being able to insult a person's entire heritage in only a few syllables), is the fact it's completely phonetic. So, once you've learned the separate sounds of the alphabet, (theoretically) you can read and write without any problem (though you may not know what you're reading or writing).

To get you started, here's the Turkish alphabet in full:

So once you've learned that, you can begin to funk it up a little:

You'll notice some of the letters are missing from the English alphabet. But don't worry, Turks make up for them with clever combinations of other letters. For example, why have an 'x' when you can put 'ks' together. So 'taxi' becomes 'taksi'. Makes sense no?

And vice versa, they simplify some of our 'clever' combinations and create a whole new letter. So 'sh' becomes 'ş' and 'ch' becomes 'ç'. Brilliant.

The Turkish alphabet also loses some of the Anglo-Alphabet stupidity. The 'ph' absurdity is, quite rightly, simplified to an 'f' - so 'photograph' becomes the far more sensible 'fotoğraf' (though they daft it up again by using the soft 'g').

This carefully crafted alphabet is still very young. The 29 Latin characters replaced the old Ottoman script on 1 November 1928. In one day, Ataturk implemented his reform on the language of a nation. Fuck that for a game of soldiers. Change is never easy. Ever seen the confused, desperate look on peoples' faces when they move the eggs to a different aisle in the supermarket? Now imagine trying to get the nation write Chinese.

Like the French, The Turks have a government body dedicated to protecting the language. Though not quite as fiercely as the French, who do love to change incoming words to make them their own (do you know the French word for 'walky-talky'? It's 'talky-walky'. Genius).

So what happens to a fast food chain like Wimpy when it comes to Turkey?

You see there are some sounds that the Turks just can't pronounce.

'Th' for example, is hardened to a 'd' or 't'.

'V' and 'w's are, pretty much, exchanged.

So you get something like "I tink dis vedder is lowely".

Conversely, there are many Turkish sounds that Westerners can't handle. Basically any of their letters with two dots or a hat is going to cause us trouble. 'ö' and 'ü' are bad news. The 'ğ' is also going to need practice. This is the soft or 'yumuşak g' that the guys in the second song got so excited about. Basically, it's job is to lengthen the vowel before it.

Anyway, why am I harping on about all this when I still can't speak the lingo myself? Well it started when I was out driving the other day and I saw a sign. As I said before, Turkish is phonetic. It is also very new and has borrowed armfuls of vocabulary from other languages. This combination allows for some moments of genius that, to be honest, tickle me.

OK, time for a little quiz. I'm going to give you some Turkish words and you have to guess the English:

Yes, it's a, phonetically perfect, Music-hall.

Of course, it's the canteen.

Come on, the clue's in the picture. It's a ferry boat.

Did you know there was a Turkish Wikipedia?

And there you have it, the Turkish ABC. Not as bonkers as the Welsh:

Monday 8 March 2010

Random Turkish Fact #12

Turkish kitchen roll has perforations at twice the interval of the British. Meaning you can tear off a 'half sheet'. Tight, shrewd or just mental, you decide.

Friday 5 March 2010

Famous Turks #3

Mousse T.

Real name:
Mustafa Gündoğdu
Date of birth: 2 October 1966
Famous for: "I'm horny, horny, horny, horny. So horny, I'm horny, horny, horny, horny."

Tuesday 2 March 2010

Famous Turks #2

Father Christmas

Real name: Saint Nicholas of Myra
Aliases: Santa Claus
Date of Birth: Sometime in 270
Died: 6 December 346
Place of birth: Demre, Turkey
Famous for: Creeping into sleeping kids' bedrooms, pissed on sherry, and emptying his sack into their socks.

Monday 1 March 2010

This trick is to keep your hands wet

Do you get the feeling this Turkish guy is getting a fair amount of satisfaction from teaching this foreign reporter how to use the potters' wheel?

If men think about sex every seven seconds, I would argue that it's only every seven seconds that Turkish men think about something else.