Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Back to School (just another brick in the Istan-WALL)

I had my first Turkish lesson today.

It was rather like being teleported back to school days, only without the sadistic P.E. teachers, uniform coloured hair ties and boys calling me "Clown Face" (in reference to my overly rosy cheeks) or 'Tapeworm'' (not in reference to parasitic crawlies in my stomach, but because I ate more than everyone and was still the lankiest, skinniest girl in my class). Hrmm... seems things don't change much...

We don't even have a siren-like bell to startle us back to life. Instead we get Turkish pop music played at full volume until the break is over. There are no lunch ladies to growl at me as they slop processed cheese muck onto my plate, but a wizened old man offers steaming glasses of tea to dazed students.

The lessons are relaxed but packed with information. Turkish is interesting in that the language was completely overhauled by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1928. The founder of the Turkish Republic went about swapping the Arabic script to a Latin one and purging the language of most of its Persian and Arabic words; within a few months it was forbidden to use the old language.

The Turkish of today has no genders and a very logical grammatical structure. It's a designer language of sorts, kind of like the Milton Keynes of linguistics...

Still, that doesn't make it easy. Things like suffixes, pronunciation and vowel harmony are enough to induce a tequila flashback headache. There are so many 'formulas' to master that it's more than a little daunting.

Learning a language is like mathematics with a bit of history, politics, geography and sociology throw in.

And right now I have all the colours of a Rubik's cube whirling around inside my head.

No comments: