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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Theories of Relativity

I recently received an email from Toronto, Canada.

"I am in love with Turkish culture since I discovered and a few other singers. As a result of that, I want to learn the Turkish language. I was wondering if you can give me some advice on that. Things like where to start or which books you would recommend. I hope one day I will be able to understand the songs and to share with the people around me."

Links to Turkish culture and language
Learning a foreign language can be difficult. I have purposefully provided only a few links below as I do not want to bombard you with too much information.

A good way to research this subject is to make Turkish friends or get a circle of friends with the same interests; it also helps as an incentive to learn. As a Tarkan fan, other non-Turkish fans in your situation will have undoubtedly done the same thing as you, while Turkish fans will help you with your Turkish. It might be an idea to also ask them to share their links and experiences about learning Turkish online.

Everything is relative to the learning experience, however, so try and make it fun and interesting.

  • Turkish culture and history
    I start by giving a few pointers as to the history of the Turks, because learning a language has to be put in context of its culture.

    Few educated Northern Europeans and Americans even realise that there was a time when the outnumbered the in certain provinces*. The was built for a reason so its's been said - to keep the Turks out.

    For some background reading, see the following generations of Turks:

    Tarkan's family comes from a long line of such Turks. Reflecting this, his family descendants have long been supporters of Turanism. It is reported that his uncle Dr. Fethi Tevetoğlu is peacefully active in such political movements and his great-grandfather Ali Dursun Kaptan is a notable war hero who helped cause the Russians initial losses in the outbreak of World War I, during the 1914-1916 period. Interesting to note that today Ali Dursun's grandson has his largest fan base outside of Turkey in Russia.

    Dursun Kaptan is also credited with fighting in support of Atatürk's campaign to forge a new country out of a fallen , after the War.

    Just for completeness, even though it is rumoured that Tarkan's father named him after his favourite comic book hero, the name Tarkan does not originate from a Turkish 'Conan the Barbarian' type fictional character. Tarkan was the name of an ancient Khazar king and a high rank military title. It is also believed to be the word for nobleman in pre-Islamic Turkish culture. Funnily enough, another famous Turkic king or Khan was Bilge. So, Tarkan and Bilge are ancient names and titles of Turkic kings, not just the Tarkan and Bilge you might have heard about.

  • Learn Turkish Online
    1. Turkish Language Class This is a good basic introduction to Turkish. Usage of plain English and simple design enhances usability, so that you concentrate on getting to grips with fundamental rules of the foreign language.
    2. Phrasebase Turkish Learn to speak Conversational Turkish and make new friends with the unconventional method used here. Also have a look at the Online Language Exchange, for similar methods.
    3. Learning Practical Turkish Learning should be fun, too. Here you can learn Turkish words and phrases with pictures and sounds, including Turkish tongue twisters and off-color Turkish. Includes online dictionary, pronunciation guide, vocabulary and vaious links to Atatürk, the Ottoman period, Turkish cuisine and music.
    4. Distance Turkish learning Center This is a professional and highly recommended site for those considering Turkish as a comprehensive foreign language to learn. (IE browser rquired)
    5. Loquela Turkish Online A free resource portal for students new to Turkish providing learning resources, online courses and a community.
    6. Learn Turkish Free An ex-pat's Turkish Language Grammar site with clear explanations for English speakers, includes sounds of Turkish, street Turkish and advice on how to learn basic Turkish.
  • Online Dictionaries
    Sesli Sözlük: An audible online dictionary, where voice clips are provided in the searches - it may help with pronounciation.
  • Books from Amazon Canada
    1. Colloquial Turkish Pack: The Complete Course for Beginners
    2. Read Turkish novels translated into English

She also goes on to write:

"I am starting a fan site for this new Turkish singer called Ertuğ. I wish to post the list of song titles in English to the welcome page of the site. I would appreciate if you could translate some Turkish song titles for me? If you couldn't get to it, is there any one else you could refer me to?"

Yes, I can refer to many other people on the Net that can translate Turkish into English just as well as I can. Search the Tarkan groups and forums and you will find them in abundance, as well as links for learning Turkish.

Finally, as a note of interest, I'd never heard of a singer named Ertuğ before you mentioned him. So I did a quick check on the Net and found absolutely nothing about him apart from the link you so kindly provided, and that his surname is Ergin.

Sharon Stone and Andy Garcia in Turkish TV series Kurtlar VadisiIt reminded me of a situation last week when I do that very rare thing for me - watch TV. Kanal D was showing "Kurtlar Vadisi" (Valley of the Wolves), a 4 season TV series about a Turkish government agent working undercover in a mafia organisation. Last week's episode held guest appearances from and . They are also in tonight's grand finale epsiode, while Billy Zane has a lead part in the film of the series which has a release date for February next year, known as the "Valley of the Wolves:Iraq".

As I raised an eyebrow in surpise at Stone's terrible performance and Garcia's excellent portrayal, and muttered something to myself, my mum turned to me and said, "You know these actors...who are they?"

I think I've mentioned somewhere on this blog before that I measure fame by my mother; if she has heard of them, then they must be famous.

I tried to explain, but she shook her head in vain. "Well, the woman's terrible at any rate," she said.

When I switched over momentarily to catch the news headlines on CNN Türk, my mother made me stop to listen to news of Woody Allen playing jazz in Istanbul over the New Year and Paris Hilton coming to a Turkish talk show in January 2006.

She shook her head, again. "Poor Mia Farrow," (of Allen) she said, "and that Paris...her family knew about hotels, but should have taken advice on how to raise daughters."

I looked over at her with suprise.

Fame, like everything else, is relative too.

Read more: posts about my life | about my Parents >>

* The presence of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang province of China are depicted in Ang Lee's successful film 'Wo Hu Cang Long' (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), where the bandit Lo (Dark Cloud) sings a folk song to the Chinese girl he has kidnapped, and certain words of Turkic orgin are noticable in the lyrics, most notably "güzel kız" (beautiful girl).

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