Translating Turkish to English
Turkish language out of context can be mystifying
If we could paraphrase that old saw about 'Real Estate', we'd say that the three most important things about 'Turkish Translations' are context, context, and context. Because, unless you're tuned into the actual subject of a verbal (or written) exchange in Turkish, you can easily be confused about what is really being said -- and completely botch the translation.
And, the main reason for the problem (we opine) is the relative smallness of the basic Turkish vocabulary (only about 65,000 words) which, over centuries, has forced Native Turkish speakers into assigning multiple ambiguous meanings to the (precious few) available words.
Take the Turkish word 'yüz' for example. That little word in its pure 3-letter form can have 4 distinct meanings -- and when you combine it with suffixes and helper-words to make Turkish idioms, well...the list of meanings in our Large Redhouse Dictionary stretches over two complete columns of text.
So if you walk, cold and unprepared, into a Turkish conversation in which 'yüz' is being bandied about, you're liable to be befuddled, until you catch the intended drift of the conversation's actual meaning.
And this sort of translation difficulty is not just an ailment affecting us foreigners. Native Turkish speakers suffer from it too -- as exemplified by the dialog in the cartoon above, between Maganda, The Lout (at right) and his brand new Son-in-Law the day after a certain wedding-night discovery... which we figuratively translate as follows:
Son in Law: Your daughter turned out not to be a virgin.
However... because of the multiple meanings of 'kız' in Turkish, The loutish Maganda thinks that his Son-in-Law means, 'Your daughter turned out not to be a girl.'
So, Maganda replies:
Huh? Did she turn out to be a boy?
Son-in-Law: No, she's not a boy but she turned out to be a woman of easy virtue.
However... because of the multiple meanings of 'kadın' in Turkish, The Lout understands the simpler, '...she turned out to be a woman.'
So, Maganda replies:
What about it... Did you expect her to be a man?
Son-in-Law: Don't you get it? Your daughter slept with other guys before me.
And... because The Lout is still a little fuzzy about the actual meaning of the conversation...
Maganda, The Lout snaps angrily:
Well, she wasn't going to sleep with her father, was she?
See what we mean about the importance of context when translating the
Turkish language? But there's more...because according to Peri, 'The Lout' probably already knows of his daughter's checkered-past, and is purposely using the ambiguity of Turkish words to conveniently hide the fact from his new Son-in-Law. :^)