Especially soothing syrup...
Person to person, hand to hand...
Politics spoken here...
For Language Lovers?
Stoned near Ankara
The Ladies Turkish Bath...
Driving in Turkey...
John can do...
To pay the bill...
Our "Private" Conversation...
Were you talking to me?
The Tell-Tale Thud
Cussin' in the Rain...
Ayran a good race
Just peachy ...
You're my beloved...
A dolt by any other name...
Shish enough, and more...Ed. 5.0
I don't really have much of story, but I'll share an experience about language attitudes (in my locale). By that I mean, attitudes about languages that are "non-Euro-American" -- around my neighborhood...
I serve as a local public school board Director. Several years ago, I suggested that we should encourage language training at a much earlier grade level (for example, kindergarten or first grade when the children's minds are supple , uncluttered by preconceptions, and intrigued by novelty). I was immediately besieged by angry parents who made some of the following profundities:
"Children who grow up speaking more than one language become psychologically damaged ."
"They (the children) will never learn either language correctly."
"They (the children) will grow up with accents."
"It (learning a foreign language in grade school) will interfere with their nap time ."
"It will be too hard to choose which language to teach; most languages aren't worth knowing because they aren't as good as English ."
"We don't want our child to grow up sounding like a Pennsylvania Dutchman. I don't intend to be Amish ."
(And, my personal favourite...) "Kids under the age of six can only learn to speak English ." (This must make parent/child communication difficult in a large part of the world.)
When I prepared a list of major languages and their current and supposed future possibilities (hence potential value), several parents informed me that...
"Japanese doesn't need to be taught because they all have learnt English at home ."
"It isn't necessary to learn Korean because they print the instructions for their TVs in English anyway ."
"Nobody speaks Turkish." (And when I pointed out that there was some evidence that Turks occasionally bothered to converse in Turkish)..."There are only a million or so Turks ."
"Arabic and Australian sound like gibberish on my shortwave set -- I don't
want my kids to have to listen gibberish, and I certainly don't want them to
try to speak it. Arabs and Australians will be better off if they learn
English, then they can speak to us intelligently
We teach (I believe ineffectively for the most part) Latin, Spanish, and
French to a fraction of our students as elective courses. And so it goes in my part of the world...
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I am fortunate to have spent nearly five years in Türkiye, courtesy of my job. As part of the preparation and orientation process, we who were headed to the mid-east were cautioned not to get involved in discussions of politics with any of the "natives".
But, after I became moderately proficient in Turkish, and finally expanded our circle of friends to include more Turks than foreigners, I found that it was nearly impossible to avoid the subject without being considered stand-offish or uninteresting by the Turks.
Two memorable conversations have stuck with me.
My wife and I were in Sinop, atop the old Roman wall overlooking the harbor. My wife exchanged pleasantries with a young Turkish couple, but soon found herself in uncharted linguistic waters. I walked over to assist her and we all had a nice chat. Soon we were joined by two ladies who, it turned out, were part of a dance group from the Ukraine on tour in Türkiye. One of these ladies spoke heavily accented Turkish which, to me, was comprehensible but difficult.
Both the Turk couple and the Ukranian lady wanted to talk politics. Not in an adversarial way, but they were interested in America's foreign policy and attitudes concerning the problems in the Balkans. Since I was and still am not qualified to explain the U.S. foreign policy, we ended up having a very interesting, non-confrontational discussion of perceptions and how they effect both governments and people. We parted friends.
On the same trip we stopped in Amasya for a bit of touring spread over a couple of days. Basically the same thing happened.
We walked to the market just behind our hotel to check out the produce. As we were buying peaches at one of the stalls, the owner asked generally the same questions we had heard in Sinop. Nothing threatening or adversarial, just an intense desire to understand and be understood.
Eventually a number of people gathered around to hear the discussion. Everyone seemed curious, possibly because of the foreigner speaking passable Turkish, but no one was distressed or negative during the conversation. When we paid for the peaches and left for our hotel, the shop keeper and several of the observers shook our hands .
The lesson I took from these experiences what that Turks, like almost
everyone else in the world, are curious. If you talk with them, rather
than to them, and discuss rather than preach, a lot of understanding is
possible and friendships result.
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