Years ago, I lived in Izmir and worked in Manisa at an automobile factory -- driving to and fro from work, every day. After a while, my Turkish improved and I was able to establish friendly relations with some of the Manisans who worked at the auto plant. Among them was a pretty young secretary named Ayşe. And I began to spend my free time on weekends at Ayşe's family's house.
Ayşe's father had a big peach orchard and when it was harvest time, I'd give a hand to help gather the fruit. And, when the sun got too hot in the afternoon we'd rest under a cool trellis made of leaves -- and have a kind of picnic that the women made.
One day after we'd finished gathering and were all resting under the trellis, one of the older women approached me with a smile. As she offered me an especially fresh fat juicy peach, she asked, "Mr. John, how do you say peach in English?"
"Why ma'am...We pronounce it 'peech' in English," I answered.
With that, everyone in the trellis stopped talking and started laughing. I was confused and embarrassed -- and didn't quite understand what had happened.
That evening when I returned to Izmir I went straight to my local watering hole and told my 'peach story' to Turkish friends I knew there. One of them who knew English well, smiled and said, "John, when you get home tonight look in your Redhouse dictionary under the Turkish-to-English section and find the Turkish word that sounds like 'peach' in English -- that would be 'piç' in Turkish..."
So after I'd finished my last beer, I said 'good night', went home, looked up the word in my trusty dictionary -- and finally got the joke. Foreign languages can be very strange!
jjg (June '00)
In Turkey - Türkiye'de
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