Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Word association and heat

You might have gathered from previous posts that I'm no good with foreign languages.  That's an understatement...I'm useless.

When I first met Mr A his English was very limited.  It's now pretty much fluent.  OK we have a few laughs at his misinterpretation of certain words at times...and he often "invents" English words.  For example if he is looking around an area he refers to it as "rounding".  And he still calls toes "feet fingers".   His English is so good that he actually dreams in English....I know this because he occasionally talks in his sleep...and it's often in English!

He has also grasped an understanding of several other languages as a result of chatting to tourists..his German is now pretty good too.

And here I am,  13 years in this country, and I still have problems communicating.  I have a fairly extensive vocabulary.  I just can't put all the words together in sentences which would enable me to have a proper conversation with anyone. 

I do so envy those people who absorb a foreign language so's a gift isn't it?  It's not that I haven't tried.  I've had lessons in the past, I've bought lots of "teach yourself Turkish" books and dictionaries but I'm still struggling.  Still just getting by.

It occurred to me yesterday that the way I remember certain words is by using word association.  I must do it subconsciously most of the time, because it was only as I was struggling to recall the Turkish word for label that I realised I was doing it.   "label" in Turkish is "etiket".   How did I eventually remember it?  Don't laugh please!   Etiket sounds like etiquette.   I had a picture in my mind of Hyacinth Bucket (the expert on etiquette) in the opening credits of Keeping Up Appearances where she is setting out place names at her dining table. names...labels...etiket.   Get it?

Well it works for me!   BUT if any of you out there also struggle with languages and have any other useful tips for me, they would be most welcome!


I don't know why, after all these years here, that July and August and the intense heat of these months, always comes as a shock.   The temperatures are now in the high 30s and getting hotter.  I'm confined to the bedroom for most of the day as it's (only slightly) cooler than the rest of the house.  I don't use the aircon in the sitting room because, having cooled down and then having to move to another room or venture outside, the sudden difference in temperature actually makes me feel faint and physically sick. 

The dogs have settled for the bedroom too, and it's a real effort to get them outside.

I only go outside to move the hose pipe around early morning and early evening.  We have it set on a constant dribble, so each tree gets 12 hours.  This seems to be working well as all the trees are looking very healthy.  There are huge amounts of grapes on the vine, which should be ready soon.  And we will have bumper crops of figs and pomegrantes this year.

I'm finding it extremely difficult to venture down to the village to pick up bread and other daily essentials, because the climb back up the hill in this heat nearly kills me.  Mr A pops home every few days and brings supplies with him, which keep me going.  But every so often I really need to get into Milas to do a big shop.  He managed to get home yesterday for a few hours, around 4.30pm, so we set off for Milas.  It was an opportunity to check my postbox and post some letters at the post office, and then hit the supermarket.  You would be amazed at the amount of shopping the two of us manage to carry on the motorbike.   It's a bit dangerous really, but this is Turkey, and you will often see an entire family...mum, dad and a couple of chiildren squashed onto a motorbike, so the two of us and half a dozen bags of shopping is quite normal.

I'm getting up around 5am most days, particularly if I need to clean the house.   Around 6am it's possible to sit outside with a coffee, but by 7am it's just too it's back to the bedroom.

Roll on winter!


  1. I once saw a man and a goat on a moped near Fethiye, the goats front legs placed on the handlebars!!!!

  2. I was exhausted just reading that!

    I'm also in awe of those who can pick up languages quickly. I am not one of those people either. Pity, I'd love to speak another language.

  3. Labels are etiquettes in france too! That brings back a picture of the supermarket flower shop where I was asking for them. I remember it as being an E-ticket, a sort of computer label. I think I have to go back to the original situation where I learnt it/needed it and can then get to the word. But sometimes it feels like hacking through thick jungle with lots of wrong turnings to find the word :-(
    I sort of hoped that living with someone that spoke the language you were seeking was the way to go. Obviously not.

  4. auntiegwen: I'm really not surprised. It ıs a bit of a shock when you first see a motorbike laden with everything but the kitchen sink isn't it?

    'Cross the Pond: Ah another one like me. When I hear other expats speaking Turkish fluently after a short time here, it makes me feel so much worse.

    So do word association too then? Hacking through a jungle describes it perfectly!
    Unfortunately Mr A always talks to me in English...unless he's angry about something then he swears in Turkish (I know a lot of Turkish swear words!). Every so often I say to him please just speak to me in Turkish today and maybe some of it will sink in, but after a while he just reverts back to English.

  5. I would be finished in that heat!
    We are having a coolish summer so far & that does suit me fine.

    I also use word (& imaginary picture) associations in my head but I must admit that foreign languages are really hard for me to remember now.
    I think (as we are understood practically everywhere), that English people have never really had to put themselves out too much as far as languages go.... unless they have a deep flare to learn.
    It never ceases to amaze me that people who come from other lands, do seem to have a natural ability to learn other languages fast.
    Maybe they've just had to do it in order to be understood anywhere else.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  6. Maggie, I think because English is so widely learned, and we are understood practically everywhere we go, it can tend to make us a little lazy about learning other languages.
    Oh I wish I was in England right now...just looking at the temps on my laptop...Here it is 38 and where my daughter lives its 15!

  7. It's bouquet nut bucket! *giggle* I love that show. I learned the word riparian from it.
    My family adds "ing" to Turkish words a lot. We're always "yaping" or "aling" or "koying" - a very convenient use of two languages!

  8. You really must take another picture of those grapes someday as I would love to see them. We are trying to get a few new varieties of grapes growing in our own gardens this year. Our older grapes didn't make it through the winter so it's time to start over.

    "Feet fingers"...ha ha ha.:)

  9. I´ve just begun to struggle with the turkish language myself, and I do exactly the same... association. How on earth can you memorize a row of syllables which has absolutely no meaning to you? I´ve struggled a lot just to learn to count to ten in turkish. My youngest son went and took turkish classes with me last year. After our first lesson we spent the whole afternoon trying to learn how to count to ten...We really had a cood laugh. "Bir iki üc".. rings no bell at all.Then we had to cling to associations.
    Really, I haven´t improved much since then. But I try, now and again. At least I can order soup and ask how much it costs.
    I think for us from the western part of europe turkish is a very difficult language, the grammar being so very different from ours.
    And speaking about languages: You´ve encouraged me enough to start my own blog now, Ayak. I wrote my first post yesterday, but unfortunately I can´t invite you to follow it, since I decided to write in swedish. It was not an obvious choice for me, since I have relatives in Finland (who speak finnish, which I don´t), Canada and Germany and it would have been a nice way of keeping contact with them. But, as you´ve written sometimes, a blog is also something you do for yourself and in my case it´s a kind of diary and it will also be interesting to see if I can use it to get things off my chest, which I do best in swedish, of course. But I love your blog and will continue to follow it.

  10. Oh, sorry, I now signed in with my new account, and there my name is Selda. Put together by my two names, Gisela and Dagmar. So it´s Gisela who´s responsible for the last comment. :)

  11. Deniz. I love the programme too! Oh yes riparian...I remember..great word!

    Mr H: I'll take some pics in the next day or so and post them up. Feet fingers stil makes me chuckle!

    Hi Selda: Strangely, I don't find Turkish numbers difficult at all. I seem to have grasped them very well. I agree that the grammar is difficult and I think this is where I fall down.
    I'm so pleased to think that I have encouraged you to start a blog. Well of course I couldn't follow it if it's in Swedish but I agree with you that writing a blog is for many of us something we do mainly for ourselves. I wish you good luck with it and I'm so glad you enjoy my blog xx

  12. Selda: Are you trying to confuse doesn't take much!!
    It's OK I'm with you now :-))

  13. I don't find languages easy...and felt down in the dumps at having to start on Spanish...but I find it helps to read, read and read...just skimming to start with, to see if I can get the gist, then ploughing a bit deeper.
    Pueblo girl had a good tip...find a book in the language you're learning that you know very well in English...and it does work. My vocabulary is much better for following her tip.
    Mark you, there are days when the brain just won't do it at all....and the telephone is always a horror! Even in English!

  14. Bomb: :-)))

    Fly: Oh yes...the telephone..someone on the other end speaking Turkşsh very fast throws me completely.

    That's a very good idea about the book..I'll give that a go.

  15. I guess it's the humidity that makes it so hard. In Cyprus I struggled in the 30's to move, in Perth (Australia) we've been in the over 40's and whilst resorting to a parasol, it was tolerable, mainly. I have a photo of the car thermometer on 54!!

  16. The link between your post about some people learning languages easily and a commenter (is that a word?) suggesting a Turkish word was the same in French for labels remnded me of a guy I used to work with who could pick up languages very easily. I asked him how he did it and he admitted(?) to me that he went to public school where he learned Latin. He told me that a lot of languages are based on Latin and thus, although there were slight variations of words in different languages, he usually was able to work it out because of his Latin subject at school.

    Ben şimdi aşağı tamamını bir yalan için kovalıyor olurum o

  17. Jack. He's probably right, but then if he was able to grasp Latin well, then he would probably find it easy to grasp any language. I did Latin for a year at grammar school, and I didn't find it easy at I guess that was an indication that languages were never going to be my thing.

    Now for your Turkish comment: I'm going to try to work it out without google translate. I think you're saying that you are going for a lie down? But I may be wrong :-((

  18. I admire anyone who can even make a start at learning a language that has no obvious links to English. Back in the 1950s/60s I learned French, German and Latin at school and went on to study languages at university (German with 1 year of French) with reasonable success.

    Yet when we moved to Wales and I started Welsh classes, I fell flat on my face with a resounding thump. Try as I might I simply could NOT memorise the vocabulary, unless it was recognisably derived from French or Latin. I was in the silly situation where I understood quite a lot of the grammar, and could translate on paper with the help of a dictionary, but couldn't speak because I couldn't remember the words. anyone who can learn a language like Turkish, even a little, has my sincere respect.

  19. Kelloggsville: I agree the humidity is definitely what makes it so difficult to cope.

    Perpetua: I also did French at school as well as Latin. I later did a year of German..which I found the easiest to fact I can still remember some of it now many years later.
    I imagine Welsh is probably as difficult as Turkish!

  20. Ayak, I understand what you feel. I came to Turkey with no qualms about language-learning difficulties. After all, I spoke fluent French, passable German, had a working knowledge of Italian, "O" level Spanish and had dabbled in Danish and Swahili. Turkish would be a toddle. Ha, ha, very ha!!!

    3 years on, my conversations are still limited to exchanges on what the weather is like today and what it will be tomorrow. And how are you, your wife, family, donkey etc.
    And yet Turkish is so logical. No irregular verbs, everything is pronounced as it is written (none of this cough, bough, though, thorough, hiccough of English which so stumps foreigners). All words are made of building blocks of suffixes. All perfectly logical and still so difficult to assimilate.

    Even the fact of having learnt Latin at school doesn't help much since Turkish comes from a completely different family (the Ural-Altaic family) which probably explains why our Turkish friends find learning Japanese easier than learning English (all those hordes sweeping down from Outer Mongolia).

    I was impressed by Mr P's fluency at the garage until I realised that nearly all the words about the bits and bobs in the entrails of a car come from French (Mr P's native language!).
    At least we understand more now and can nod and hum and ha looking slightly less stupid than before (but only slightly!).

    I am sure that your Turkish is a lot better than you think it is and that you can hold your own in a conversation about recipes or foods for example.

  21. Hi Vicky. It's very reassuring to me to know that someone like you, who is clearly good at languages, also finds Turkish difficult. I do understand a fair amount it's just the joining in conversation that I find hard. Although I'm sure a lot of it is to do with confidence in my ability...or rather lack of it!

  22. Love this post.....when my husband moved to Toronto I met him only 6 months after he had lived here. So his English was really limited that we had to use a dictionary. But after being with him for 2 months we got married and have been together for almost 25 years. His English is now perfect but like yours he makes up a few English words, so my Daughter and I just chuckle.
    Now he is saying that he is forgetting his Turkish.....but lately we've been trying to speak in Turkish at home so I could learn to speak it more fluently.
    plus I watch all the Turkish soap stories.....and i mean all of them. Right now my fave is Fatmagul.
    Stay cool.....


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