Turkish Sayings (Part 3)


Adages, sayings, idioms and proverbs really offer an insight into another language and culture. In some languages – possible in English, for example – sayings don’t really play that large a role. In Turkish, however, there seems to be a saying for essentially every minor interaction you might encounter. Some of the more common ones have already been discussed in Parts 1 and 2.

So, without further ado, here is the next installment of some of my favorite Turkish sayings:

Ayran içtik ayrı düştük

We drank our ayran and fell away from each other.” Ayran is a slightly salty yogurt drink that is incredibly popular in Turkey and, despite sounding disgusting, is amazingly delicious with meat dishes. Apparently the idea behind this saying is reserved for old friends who you have lost touch with; essentially, we used to eat together but who knows where my friend is now.

Teklif var ısrar yok

“There are suggestions, not demands.” When it comes to meal times, Turks can be a bit pushy – like Jewish mothers. It is not uncommon for someone to repeatedly offer you food until you accept it; the same also applies to drunk Turks smoking – they are the masters of peer pressure. It is in these situations that you would say this adage as a polite way to remind them not to force you into something that would make you uncomfortable.

Aşk olsun

“Let it be love.” If two people are fighting, or someone is teaching another incessantly, this phrase quickly comes into play. The idea being that you should turn all your negative words and phrases into something positive… into something loving.

Maydanoz olmak 

“To become parsley.” Apparently parsley is a weed and it manages to grow everywhere and spread into places where it does not belong. Do not be like parsley – learn to stay out of other people’s business.

Taşa deliğine yerleştirmek 

“To place the rock into your hole.” As my student explained this to me: ‘sometimes you see a hole, and you see a rock. And the rock fits into the hole perfectly. This means that. You do something perfectly, and we say this.’

Adamın başına ne gelirse, meraktan 

“Literally: What may come to a man’s head is from curiosity” or, better put, “What befalls a man comes from his curiosity.” This is the Turkish equivalent of ‘curiosity killed the cat.’ Except, in some ways, I feel like this is more positive. It does not necessarily mean something bad may befall you… It just kind of seems like it ominously implies it.

5 thoughts on “Turkish Sayings (Part 3)”

    1. doosteramaJuly 12, 2012Yeah, I saw a very similar sttaistic. I’m a little uncertain as to how that percentage actually plays out across languages from very different linguistic families with different cultural backgrounds. I know in Turkey, for instance, if you ask someone to repeat themselves they say it faster in an almost aggressive tone. This isn’t because they are upset, it’s just culturally ingrained that that is the appropriate tone to take. I wonder, how much talking were you attempting with that Peruvian girl in the club anyway? It is really cool though the multitude of ways we can all make ourselves understood to each other.

      1. Completely agree that the percentage may not play out as highly across all cases. Obviously it is also difficult to use body gestures for abstract ideas; however, I know first hand of an Italian who manages to get by in Turkey with absolutely no Turkish simply through gestures, smiles, and a word or two thrown in.

  1. Jeremy! I saw you and your blog featured in the CLS newsletter, so I figured I’d drop by. Thanks for an awesome round-up of awesome Turkish sayings! (Although I noticed that “tavşan canı” was conspicuously absent…)

    1. Alison! By God, you’re right! I don’t know how I forgot that one… I’ll have to be sure to include it on the sayings post.

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