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LPT Symbol Tips, Tipoffs, Tricks, Traps, Techniques, Curiosities, and Oddities...

A veritable potpourri of useful and fun things to help you get this language to the mat.
Or, things that will relax you -- while it eats you for lunch.
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A modest Estagfurullah...
Turkish Euphemisms...
Turkish Palindromes
'Out Loud' Word Spelling
Well-known Language School(s) in Turkey
How Turks Learn English Pronunciation...
Bad Sign Language...
Uses of 'Efendim'...
Turkish Tipoffs -- If ...
Turkish Tipoffs II -- The Sequel...
'Slurring' in Turkish...
Turkish regional accents...
Turkish Character-set Typing Tip...
The wrong and, the right ands...

A modest Estagfurullah...

We paraphrase our giant-sized
Redhouse Turkish to English Dictionary
that gives the meaning of this tongue-twisting Turkish word as...

Estagfurullah --- Don't mention it; don't say so; not at all.
And it's pronounced: eh-STAH-foo-rool-lah

Around where we live it's used [modestly]
by Person B in response to Person A's expression of
(excessive) thanks or (high) praise --
by Person B in response to Person A's self-critical remarks.

For example...

Person A: I can't thank you enough, Person B...
You saved my life!
Person B: Estagfurullah, Person A. Don't mention it.
I'm glad I could help...

Ahmet: You speak Turkish like a native, Maureen...
I'm very impressed.
Maureen: Estagfurullah, Ahmet...
Don't say such a thing. Perhaps one day...

Marvin: I was such an idiot, Mabel...
for dropping my false teeth into your bowl of soup.
Mabel: Estagfurullah, Marvin. Not at all...
They added a special tang to the broth. burp ĝ¤°`°¤ĝ,¸¸,ĝ¤°

And Kathryn K likes it especially for its
Turkish crowd-pleasing attributes.
She says...

"My all time favorite heart-melting Turkish expression is 'estagfurullah'. It's original Ottoman meaning was,
I ask the pardon of God -- and it was used to convey the idea,
I'm sorry, but it's true...

Nowadays, of course, it can be used to show modesty,
while accepting someone's compliments...
Once, when I was in a supermarket check-out line, I struck up a conversation with the cashier who praised my Turkish --
to which I replied 'estagfurullah'.
The elderly gentleman in line behind me overheard and
interrupted politely to ask how I'd learned the expression.
When I was able to specify its Ottoman roots,
he showered me with even more praise...
(this time about my  'complete and accurate knowledge')
to which I again replied
My second correct usage of the word
(in the space of less than a minute)
brought smiles and nods of approval from the man, the cashier --
and everyone else within eavesdropping distance !!!

You can not miss with this word...
I teach it to all my recently arrived foreign friends.

To which we say...
rule estagfurullah!

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Turkish Euphemisms

Several months ago, the Turkish advertising world was turned upside-down when the FINDIK TANITIM GRUBU aired a humorous TV ad in which they touted their product (hazelnuts) by using an
invented, new Turkish euphemism.

Euphemism -- a mild, indirect, or vague expression used
in place of a more direct, explicit, or offensive one.

Like: rest-room or water-closet for toilet...

We hesitated to bring it to your attention at the time,
not because of its naughty overtones,
but because we feared it might be a 'flash in the pan'.
Well, it's clear now that it's here to stay --
the TV ad-campaign expanded to include the print medium,
a second TV ad has now been aired,
and there are more in the works.
So, we won't hold back any longer!
Right click the image to 'View' an enlargement...

Starting in the middle of the picture, the ad says:
"A handful of hazelnuts every day is good for you."
Then continuing under the picture...
"They're good for high-blood pressure, for cholesterol, for anemia, for sleeplessness, they give energy, make the skin youthful, strengthen bones and teeth and besides that...[they give you]
sexual potency!"
ah-gah-nee-ghee nah-gah-nee-ghee

March 2000

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The wrong and, the right ands

We don't know about you, but early in our Turkish-language learning-experience, we got hooked on using the Turkish 've' to mean the English 'and' -- at almost every opportunity.

Oh, yes...we do remember, vaguely, something in our text-books about the '-Ip' suffix and the stand-alone 'da' -- but why should we worry about them when 've' was available, and so easy for us to understand and use? Well, here's what one of our favorite Turkish-language advisors, Deniz SarIöz, has to say on the subject:

"Something I am really anal about is the
pathological overuse of the word 've' in Turkish,
which is considered a substitute for the English word 'and' --
due to the frequency of non-Turkish movies on TV with
very very bad translations.
More often than not,
'and' would translate better to Turkish as
'da' or 'de' or as '-Ip, -ip, -up, -üp' --
according to the rule of vowel harmony.
For instance, in the example,
'Mektubu aç ve okuyalIm.'
(Open the letter and let's read it)...
it would be so much more natural
to replace the 've' in the sentence with 'da'.

What Deniz (a native Türk) must mean is that it's
so much more natural for native Türks to do that!
(He hasn't thought about us poor non-natives --
who don't find much that's natural about the Turkish language at all.)

But nevvvermind, his point is well taken. Because, we sure hear 'da' and 'Ip' (and 'ile', by the way) here in the Turkish streets (and in Turkish radio and television programming) a lot more than we hear 've'.

So if you too would like a simple and effective way to sound better in Turkish, then cast out the unnatural-sounding 've' (wherever you can) -- in favor of the native-sounding 'da', 'Ip', and 'ile'...


All of the 've' variations adhere strictly to
the rule of vowel harmony
as shown:

1) da, de
2) -Ip, -ip, -up, -üp
3) ile, -la, -le

Remember, though, that 'ile', '-la', and '-le' are also
commonly used as prepositions (postpositions) meaning 'with' or 'by'. So we need to be careful not to confuse 'ile', the conjunction, with 'ile', the preposition, as we translate...
-- see examples three thru seven, below --

1) Bütün o problemleri unut da zevkine bak.
To translation

2) Her seferinde aynI sey, suçu kendi isler, kolayca kardesinin üstüne yIkIp zeytinyagI gibi üste çIkardI.
To translation

3) Dogu ile (or Doguyla) BatI arasInda uzlasma var.
(There is rapprochement between East and West.)

4) izmir'e uçak ile gidiyorum.
(I'm going to Izmir by plane.)

5) izmir'e uçakla gidiyorum.
(I'm going to Izmir by plane.)

6) izmir'e otobüs ile gidiyorum.
(I'm going to Izmir by bus.)

7) izmir'e otobüsle gidiyorum.
(I'm going to Izmir by bus.)

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Turkish Palindromes

We know you know a palindrome when you see one in English...
It's a phrase or sentence that's spelled the same way,
backwards and forwards,
A man, a plan, a canal, Panama!

But would you have spotted the following
Turkish palindrome on your own
-- over breakfast next Sunday, as you scanned your Turkish newspaper --
without a little help from your friends here at LPT ???

Ey edip Adanada pide ye!
Hey, go on -- and eat a Turkish pizza in Adana!

Courtesy: Ertan KÜÇÜKYALÇIN, March 2000

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Out-loud Word Spelling in Turkish

When you want to get rid of that pesky IRS agent who
keeps calling at your door, how do you do it?
Well, if you're like us,
you crank up the voice a notch and shout,
S as in Scaramouche,
C as in Concertina,
R as in Rhubarb,
A as in Albatross,
M as in Mayonnaise...

But if you're Turkish, you have to know your
Turkish city names or else you'll be in,
Trabzon'un Te'si,
Rize'nin Re'si,
Ordu'nun O'su,
Urfa'nIn U'su,
Bursa'nIn Be'si,
Lüleburgaz'In Le'si,
Edirne'nin E'si...

So if you need to, say, spell your foreign-sounding surname to a Turkish-speaking someone, over the phone...
you'll be better understood if you can imitate this
method (as best you can) --
if not with Turkish city names, then with
any Turkish words that come to mind!

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Well-known Language School(s) in Turkey

Want to combine your next vacation with some 'Total Immersion' Turkish Language practice?
If so, we've got the in-country school for you...

Tömer Language School

Complete 2001 Application/Date/Time/Pricing Information
(.PDF format -- 'Adobe Acrobat Reader' required,
available *free* at www.adobe.com)

Istanbul: (90) (212) 230-7083
Ankara Voice: (90) (312) 426-2047, 434-3090
Ankara FAX: (90) (312) 435-9786, 435-8397
Izmir: (90) (232) 464-0544
Antalya: (90) (242) 312-5013
Bursa: (90) (224) 250-7297
Trabzon: (90) (462) 326-0380

If you call Long Distance:
Turkish phone numbers work just like American ones:
Country code for Turkey is 90.
The area code is 212 for Istanbul, for example...
and the rest, 230-7083, is the local Istanbul number.

In fall/winter/spring classes run 2 months -- that's the 'standard program'. Condensed 4-week classes are held in spring/summer/fall. All student applications must be made through the Tömer Central Branch in Ankara. See 'Adobe Acrobat .PDF' file (above) for course schedules and pricing details.

The Tömer classes aren't for everyone.
One LPT site visitor commented:
"I have taken an intensive 4-week with Tomer in Istanbul, and will never do it again; I learned a lot, but the teaching style was a bit . . .well, mean, actually. All of the English speakers opted out of the second 4-week phase because it was so brutal in style -- but for some reason the (un-named country) contingent thrived in that atmosphere!"

Another Izmir/Istanbul/Ankara lead --
not as good as Tömer...

"The English Fast International Language School"
[They also take on students learning Turkish.]
(90) (212) 2250210
Course Schedule and Pricing is up to you...
[They also have a branch office in Izmir -- just across from the Izmir Bay (232-425-5137).]

More 'Educational News'...
A few weeks ago (speaking in March 2000), in the English-language 'Turkish Daily News' -- we saw an ad for a language training school in Istanbul called International House. And the ad specifically says, "looking for EFL teachers, part or full time." They go on to say... "Degree and CELTA essential. Please contact Doris Leach or Sandra Wilding. Phone (90) 212-282-9064 [or 9065] Fax (90) 212-282-3218. E-mail: karizma_ltd@turk.net"
Above, the (90) is Turkey's country code and (212) is an Istanbul area code...

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How Turks Learn English Pronunciation

Phonetics 101

Note: The following tidbit was published in the Turkish daily Newspaper Sabah. It's author had his tongue firmly planted in his cheekle cavity.
We translate and paraphrase...

Remembering how to pronounce "Fish" in English

When he looks at the spelling of the English word 'fish' a Turk's instinct is to pronounce the word as "feee-sh". To help himself remember the correct pronunciation, he must memorize the character sequence 'ghoti'. After that, he simply needs to remember to pronounce the 'gh' as in the English word 'tough', the 'o' as in the English word 'women', the 'ti' as in the English word 'nation' -- and there you have it. F - I - SH...
Thanks to H. Uluç 1997

Phonetics 102

These next two come from a Turkish friend -- who swears he used them as crutches when he first started learning English. Do we believe him? Well, we haven't made up our minds yet. Anyway he says...

As an English language pronunciation exercise, I used to repeat two phrases to myself over and over. The first one was, "I run each team". And the second was, "Why high, one why?".

But to help me pronounce the phrases correctly, I'd say the Turkish phrases "Ayran içtim" and "Vay hayvan vay?" -- which gave me a close approximation of the sounds I wanted, though the syllable accenting wasn't very good.

The first Turkish phrase means, "I drank Ayran" -- Ayran being a national drink of ours made from yogurt. The second one means, "Oh! animal oh!". And I'm not kidding, these phrases got me going --
taking my first baby steps in English!
Courtesy YS, May 1997

Bad Sign Language

A OK is not ok

Don't use this hand signal in Turkey...
(or anywhere in Europe, for that matter)

If you're American, it's probably safest to leave all your tried and true American hand-signals at home...Most of them don't translate well on this side of the Atlantic. If you can't figure out why, write us. We'll tell ya' a story...

And don't prop your feet up and point your soles at the Turkish person you are talking to. No one is likely to say anything to you, but they'll mark you down as a bad mannered boob.

One other thing...Don't praise children
to their parents -- unless you remember to say masallah (mah-sha-la), before and after you do your gushing. It wards off the evil spirits who may be listening -- and that Turks don't like to tempt...

There are a few more such behavioral recommendations. Do drop us a line, if you're interested...

Uses of 'Efendim'

To be respectful -- and uh...

Yes, the word is 'Efendim' (pronounced as it looks) and it's used when Turkish speakers answer the phone. In that case it has the effect of saying "Hello" -- in a very respectful (polite) manner. It literally means "my master".

It has another use, too...as a meaningless filler -- when you are speaking and you are in mid-sentence and you need to pause for some reason. Maybe you want to take a breath, maybe you momentarily forget the next word you want to use...

For example...In English, we might speak a sentence like, "Yesterday was the first day of, uh, October." [We said 'uh' because we momentarily forgot which month it was.] In Turkish, in place of the 'uh' -- you'd hear 'Efendim', if the speaker was being polite...[And if he wasn't being polite? Well, you'd problee hear "uhhh" -- just like us!] And the complete spoken-Turkish sentence might look something like:

Ne söylesem efendim...Dün Ekimin birinci günü, efendim...;
How can I say this, uhhh...Yesterday was the first day of October, uhhh...

BTW -- If the Turkish speaker of the above sentence is being especially refined, he'll even eliminate the 'd' sound. So, if he's really out to smooth-talk you, you'll only hear "Efenim" .
[Note: Elimination of the 'd' is only done in this instance -- with 'uhhh' replacement. The full word, "Efendim" is used in all other cases mentioned in this article.]

And yet another use...If you ask a polite Turk a question, and she doesn't hear or understand you well enough, she will reply, "Efendim?" -- meaning, "I'm sorry, I didn't hear you well. Could you repeat please?"

One final use...If you enter a room and call out the name of your polite Turkish friend, he will turn to you with a smile and say, "Efendim..." -- meaning, "Yes, I'm here. You've got my attention. I'm ready to listen to your next words..."

Based on ideas from TÇ August '97

Turkish Tipoffs

#1 An 'iffy' Proposition

We are going to make a bold statement now [and risk the ire of all three of our regular native-Turkish site-visitors].
Here goes...The Turkish word eger does not mean 'if' -- as every bi-lingual dictionary and grammar book says it does.

It means nothing at all, zip, zero -- by itself...It's just a tipoff that a conditional 'if ' statement is on the way -- coming up, right around the corner, somewhere down the line...

The good news is that, if you see or hear it (and usually it'll be the first word in a sentence or be found immediately following a comma near the start of the sentence), you can be sure that the sentence you find it in, is in fact a conditional 'if ' sentence --such as...

Eger hava güzel olursa gezmeye çIkarIz;
If the weather becomes nice, we'll go out for a walkaround.

The bad news is that a sentence need not begin with eger -- in order for the sentence to be a perfectly good and legitimate conditional 'if ' sentence. For example...

Daha yavas konusursan, daha iyi anlayabilirim;
If you speak more slowly, I can understand you better.

I'd like to see the full conjugation of a verb in the conditional mood --
including more examples without eger ?

So you'll be damn glad to see it in such sentences as --

Eger Elvis Presley 1955'de Hound Dog'unu söylememis olsaydI seks, uyusturucu, ve rock 'n roll âlemini aynI ileri vaziyette bulacagImIz pek süpheli idi;
If Elvis Presley hadn't sung his Hound Dog in 1955, it is very doubtful whether we would find [today's] world of sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll -- in the same advanced position!
[At least that's what our granny told us.]

Now we're goin' out on a limb...You will never see or hear eger by itself -- in any correct Turkish sentence. It must always be coupled with the conditional suffix, that begins with se or sa which you'll find attached to some verb -- coming up, right around the corner, somewhere down the line...

Eger verdiginiz sözde durmazsanIz çok kötü olur;
If you don't keep your promise, it'll be very bad.

Incidentally, our All Turkish-to-Turkish Dictionary defines eger as, "a word that is placed at the beginning of a conditional sentence, for strengthening the conditional purpose." It doesn't say the word has any meaning, at all...

Now why didn't the bilingual dictionaries and grammars explain it that way in the first place? If they had done so, it would have saved us from developing the [incorrect] habit of [incorrectly] using eger by itself in order to [incorrectly] convey the 'if ' conditional meaning -- when we first started speaking Turkish [incorrectly]!

And, yes. Sometimes, we still [incorrectly] do it --
because old habits die hard.
(There. D'ya feel better -- now that we've publicly humiliated ourselves?)

Turkish Tipoffs II -- The Sequel

'tIpkI' -- A preposition in its own time...

Next on our list of tipoff words is tIpkI, which always appears at the beginning of a phrase (including at the beginning of a phrase at the beginning of a sentence) and which means exactly like, just like, or same as. For example,

King Kong, tIpkI öteki maymunlar gibi maymundur -- sadece biraz daha büyüktür;
King Kong is a monkey just like any other monkey -- he's just a little bigger.

But, unlike eger (see An 'iffy' Proposition) which is always meaningless (by itself), tIpkI is always meaningful -- either by itself or when it is found coupled with its frequent partner-word, gibi.
[ gibi is a preposition too that, when it appears by itself, simply means 'like'. But notice -- in the King Kong sentence above -- how gibi trails the phrase it belongs to...
So, strictly speaking it should be called a postposition, not a preposition, right?]

And when it does couple with gibi (as in the King Kong sentence), tIpkI provides two functions -- in a manner somewhat similar to that of eger:

1) It forewarns the coming of a phrase -- in this case a phrase in which the similarity between one object(s) and another will be established (for instance, between King Kong and another monkey). And remember...this is a phrase that begins with tIpkI and ends with gibi, so these phrase delimiters -- when you run across them -- can be very useful identifiers, to help you parse and translate a Turkish sentence.

2) It reinforces or adds emphasis to the phrase it fronts. And when tIpkI and gibi appear together in a phrase, it is tIpkI that emphasizes how very alike one object(s) is to the other -- giving the sense that object A (King Kong) is exactly like or just like object B (any other monkey). This is a stronger statement than, object A (King Kong) is [merely] like B (another monkey).

Other Examples:
Using tIpkI and gibi together...
Kral Arthur [kafasIna] bir abajur yine giymis --
tIpkIsede oturan sihirbaz gibi
King Arthur is wearing a lampshade [on his head] again --
just like the sorcerer sitting in the corner.

[What happened to that fresh bottle of Whiskey, Mabel?]

Using tIpkI by itself...

Kral Arthur [kafasIna] bir abajur giymis --
tIpkI Merlin
King Arthur is wearing a lampshade [on his head] --
exactly like Merlin.

Using gibi by itself...

Kral Arthur [kafasIna] bir abajur giymis --
Merlin gibi
King Arthur is wearing a lampshade [on his head] --
like Merlin.

Weren't those last examples magical...?

Oh, BTW...The English-language debate about whether, "Winston tastes good, as a cigarette should," or, "...like a cigarette should" --
does not arise in Turkish.
A gibi is a gibi is a gibi
[with tIpkI acting as a gibi strengthener...]

Sluurrring in Turkish


That's right...We English speakers don't have a corner on the slurred speech market...

For example, in proper Turkish you would hear...
Bir çay içeyim, geliyorum;
I am coming [to visit]; so that I may drink a glass of tea [with you].

But in slurred Turkish speed-speech, this becomes...
Bi çay içem geliyom.

This is very colloquial (just like in English), but it is heard/seen frequently in everyday speech -- and also in the dialogs of novels and stories.
Based on an idea from TÇ -- May 1997

Click following to see an ilustrated example of
Off-color Turkish slurring
but be warned --
the language is very explicit!

Regional Accents in Turkish

Shall I pahk the cah in the pahking lot...?

We also don't own the market on regional accents...
Regional accents in Turkey are alive and well, thank you. Perhaps the best known is the one from the Black Sea region -- which is well documented in Turkish books and stories. For example, if you buy any of the Temel humor books, you'll find the stories sprinkled heavily with Temel's own special Black Sea accent.

Let's eavesdrop on this exchange between Temel and a male friend -- as they get ready to leave on holiday...

With Black Sea accent and slang...
"Temel tatile çIktIgImIzda IsIgIIk pIrakalum."
"Haçan pen te hIrsIzlar el feneriyle tolasI sanIrtum."

Without Black Sea accent and slang...
"Temel tatile çIktIgImIzda IsIgIIk bIrakalIm."
"Dostum ben de hIrsIzlar el feneriyle dolasIr sanIrdIm."

English Translation...
"Temel, let's leave the lights on while we're on vacation."
"[Good idea] my friend. I too was worried how the burglars could find there way around with only a flashlight."

Our Türkçe Dilbilgisi (Turkish grammar book) lists no less than twenty Turkish dialects spoken worldwide. So we hesitate to think of the many more examples of accents and slang that must exist in each of them...Still, it's said -- that if you stick to standard vocabulary and if you speak clearly, you can be understood in any of the regions where the dialects are spoken. And those regions cover a very large span of territory -- from enclaves in Lithuania, Belarus, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Greece -- to Turkey itself, dipping into Cyprus, Syria, Iraq, Iran, through Azerbaijan, into Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Mongolia...all the way to the Western provinces of China and the North Eastern borders of Russia!
We've heard that over 200 million people speak Turkish, making it the 7th most spoken language in the World.

How to Type the Turkish Character Set
without a Turkish keyboard,
using Windows 95/98/ME/NT and so on...

So, you say... that you downloaded and installed the free Turkish fonts from the Freeware and Shareware page --
but you don't know how to type them in your Windows word processor...

Here's an easy (albeit somewhat cumbersome) way to do it.
But, first -- you have to make sure that your keyboard Num Lock is 'On'.
If it's already 'On', that's fine. No worry. Move on...
If it's not 'On' yet, go ahead and depress the Num Lock key.

After that, bring up your Word Processor program and, from the font menu, select one of your new Turkish fonts --the ones you've already installed, remember.
We did include the instructions for installing them,
for both Win 3.1 and Win 95/98 --
Zipped together inside the Freeware Turkish -- English TrueType Fonts file.

Then -- while holding down the Alt key, type any of the number sequences in the following chart... and finally let go of the Alt key.
Now...Try it yourself.

Turkish Typing Tip -- the Alt Key Method
â = Alt 0226
(some say this character is on the way out)
ç = Alt 0231
(this works even without a Turkish font operating)
Ç = Alt 0199
(this works even without a Turkish font operating)
c = Alt 099
(for completeness)
C = Alt 067
(for completeness)
g = Alt 0240
(yumusak g)
G = Alt 0208
(yumusak G)
I = Alt 0253
(dotless lower i)
i = Alt 0221
(dotted upper I)
i = Alt 0105
(dotted lower i, for completeness)
I = Alt 073
(dotless upper I, for completeness)
ö = Alt 0246
(this works even without a Turkish font operating)
Ö = Alt 0214
(this works even without a Turkish font operating)
o = Alt 0111
(umlaut-less lower o, for completeness)
O = Alt 079
(umlaut-less upper O, for completeness)
s = Alt 0254
S = Alt 0222
s = Alt 0115
(lower s, for completeness)
S = Alt 083
(upper S, for completeness)
ü = Alt 0252
(this works even without a Turkish font operating)
Ü = Alt 0220
(this works even without a Turkish font operating)
u = Alt 0117
(lower u, for completeness)
U = Alt 085
(upper U, for completeness)
û = Alt 0251
(seen in proper names)

By the way, in Windows 95/98/ME/NT, there's also a way to make your keyboard switchable -- between Turkish and English keyboard formats -- so you can avoid the Alt key method above, if you want to. And once it's done, you can switch back and forth simply -- by depressing, holding, and then releasing, the Alt and Shift keys.

So, for example, once you switch to the Turkish keyboard, it only takes one key depression per Turkish character -- just like on the counterpart English keyboard...

But to enable keyboard-switching, you'll need to install the Windows 95/98 Multi-language Support feature which is found on the original Win 95/98 CD -- or on our "Downloads" page. If you don't know the necessary steps to do the installation, drop us a line...

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