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LPT SymbolThe Rest of the Idiom Story

Turkish Idiom origins...

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The Rest of the Story about...

Abbas yolcu (lit. an Abbas traveler) -- idiomatic meaning is 'You can't detain someone who has to go' or 'She's at death's door.'

The story

Abbas Hoca (also known as Abbas Molla) was a famous 12th century folk poet, though none of his works survive him. This Süle tribesman loved to travel and it's said that he composed his works as he wandered from place to place -- through Azerbaijan, the Caucasus, Iran, India, Arabia, and Egypt. He was, apparently, a witty and pleasant conversationalist who was quick to make friends everywhere he went. But although many tried to persuade him to settle in their lands, he always refused, saying, "Impossible, I can't stay. Abbas is a traveler, he doesn't stay in one place." That easily explains the first meaning of the idiom -- and it's just a short logical jump to see how it also became associated with 'imminent death'.

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The Rest of the Story about...

Acemi çaylak (lit. beginner hawk) -- idiomatic meaning is 'raw, inexperienced.'

The story… The 'çaylak' (a hawk-like bird), about 60 centimeters in length as an adult, is indigenous to Turkey. Because it's a bird with a heavy body, its young take a long time learning how to fly -- and do a lot of falling and crashing. It is this awkwardness of the çaylak young that is the source of the idiom.

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The Rest of the Story about...

Agaca çIksa pabucu yerde kalmaz (lit. 'If he goes up in a tree, his shoes don't remain on the ground') -- the idiomatic meaning is 'He's crafty, not easily fooled.'

The story… One day, Nasreddin Hoca went out walking in his pair of brand new shoes. A gang of youthful pranksters saw him and set out to trick him and steal the new shoes. As they approached him on the footpath, they pretended to enter into a deep discussion among themselves -- about the Hoca's ability in the 'art' of tree climbing…But the Hoca was suspicious of their behavior and sensed that they meant to trick him. So when the leader of the gang asked the Hoca slyly whether or not the old fellow was still capable of climbing a nearby tree, the Hoca replied, "Of course, I am." And, with that, he jumped up on it and began climbing -- but not before tucking his new shoes safely in his breast coat. The gang members all shouted out at once, "Wait Hoca, leave the shoes down here on the ground. What use will they be in the tree?" By now the Hoca understood the gang's intention very well, and with a glint in his eye, replied, "Oh, who knows…Perhaps from the tree, I'll have to journey to the next village by yonder road."
And so, the idiom has become associated with people who are intelligent and alert in the face of tricky dealings.

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