Retirement and English in Turkey

We have been asked by a few folks what is it like to live in Turkey where all the protests over Gezi Park in Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir and other places were happening. We live in a very small village about 10 kilometers from the nearest town, a place called Kaş on the far southern coast of Turkey. No tear gas, riot police nor angry protestors here.
Kas town square protestors
I have attached here a couple of photos of the “events” in the streets of Kas down here in the most southern part of Turkey. At 21:00 every night, the Kas protesters gather around the Atatürk statue (of course) in the town square and they have a bit of a chant and rally for about 30 minutes. It is a photo-op for the tourists.
Kas town square protests
There has been a 24-hour vigil ever since the start of Gezi Park at the statue with people taking turns (along with the ever present street dogs).

There are never any police present which is also interesting given the tense atmosphere in the main cities of Istanbul Izmir and Ankara. I think the Kas kops know they have a good thing here and are not going to get involved unless specifically ordered. I have heard that the Kas police chief is also very friendly with tourists and speaks good English and has occasional tea or coffee with them. What a difference a place makes huh?

What’s going on otherwise? Retirement, I have been a Linux user for about 10 years now and only use Free and Open Source software. I occasionally write about that on other pages:

I tend to reinstall my operating system every few months or so and then commence to see how quickly I can make it crash or how stable it stays in spite of my efforts to make it crash. Sometimes I spend hours or maybe even days looking for the meaning of life within “The Ghost in the machine” such as this:
Inconsistency detected by ../sysdeps/x86_64/dl-machine.h: 466: elf_machine_rela_relative: Assertion `((reloc->r_info) & 0xffffffff) == 8′ failed!

(by the way, if anyone finds out what this means please send me a message immediately, it is of great importance) {heh, just kidding :-)}

The Mrs. is a translator of books, websites and does subtitles for films. She is multi-lingual, she spent 8 years at a French middle/high school studying all sorts of French crap that she found out later was, besides the mastery of the language, quite useless, but then high school usually is, is it not?

She is also fluent in English, having helped me to improve mine on many occasions by having to explain things like “serious as a heart attack” or “colder than a well-diggers ass.” I dare you dear reader to try to translate “he did a 36-inch vertical leap in response to the scream” into something meaningful in the language of a metric-standard country where many women and a lot of men are not more than 5 feet tall themselves. I have probably spent half my talking time explaining some inane thing I said to an English-speaking Turkish person who gazed back at me with a lost and quizzical look as to WTF?, what did that mean?

drill sergeant classroomI was teaching academic skills to Turkish university students, some of whom had only a year or two of conversational English before they encountered the drill-sergeant–me! I would sometimes spend an entire class period of 2 hours attempting to break something down into a fundamental English that they DID understand and then move them back up the ladder of comprehension until they “got it” {well, sometimes}.

Nearly all my jokes in the classroom fell on totally deaf ears and they only laughed at my dismal attempts to pronounce their names, especially their surnames, Karademircioğlu for example where the G is almost but not quite silent, they call it a “soft G.” They also slightly roll their r’s, therefore my few years of exposure to some Spanish-speaking persons allowed me to pull that off easily as the roll is nowhere near as pronounced as it is in Spanish. Then I found that if an r is at the end of a word, usually a name such as Pınar, the r takes on a shhh sound! It was months before someone carefully explained how to hold my tongue in just the right way in order to make such a sound. Turkish also has a “dotless” ı which is pronounced as “uh” (sort of). The letter e is pronounced like an a in English and they have an ö “with dots” which sounds like “er” (again, sort of…)

speaking TurkishTherefore, since coming to Turkey, my profanity has suffered, my formal English has greatly improved and my “Tarzan Turkish” is usually sufficient to get me clearly misunderstood by taxi drivers and food vendors alike who then answer back to me in rapid-fire Turkish, assuming I understand every word of their regionally accented brand of the language.

So, that’s whats going on in part of the world where the sun shines about 300 days a year, where the winters seldom drop to freezing and where I like getting up in the morning with absolutely nothing to do but think about what I want to do.

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