As many of you know, I am learning Turkish. However, what some of you may not know, I am terrible, but with a Capital T. Terrible. I mispronounce words in an amazing way. Many perfectly acceptable Turkish words becomes crass and vulgar after it is butchered by my tongue. “Give me a kiss ,” turns into “Give me the knife.” Ominous. “Nice eyes” translates into “Nice Ass.” So it is with trepidation that I try to pronounce new words. I also have to be careful with old ones. Or at least sounds. What word inhabits the English language to such a degree we barely notice it? Perhaps it is more of a sound than a word. Ummmm…Right? Anyone that speaks Turkish knows where this is going. I am sorry. So Sorry.
My parents and brother are coming from the States to visit us in two weeks. My dad says Umm a lot, and his voice is deep and carries. Why is this a problem, you might ask? Because in Turkish when you same “um” (I am not spelling it the right way, FYI) it refers to a certain part of the female anatomy in a very crass way. Very not P.C.
Last night, I talked to my father, to warn him to try to end this habit before he came to Turkey and alienated the Turkish population within earshot of him. However, my father and I are always very frank with one another, much to Bülent’s discomfort and dismay. Apparently the fact that I told my dad that “um” translates into “cunt” was horribly embarrassing to Bülent. He actually covered his ears. Here is the thing. I believe a word is a word. Hey–there is a whole skit in the Vagina monologues where a woman screams and shouts and whispers cunt, right before the skit where the woman moans for 20 minutes. If I had told my dad it was something cute and cuddly like Va-jay-jay or “private parts” it wouldn’t be quite as effective a warning. Also, that is not what it is translated into. A word is a word and “um” means “Cunt.” As awkward as it could be for me to tell my dad (for Bülent) it would be worse if my dad kept saying it in front of Bülent’s mom. So warning, no big deal compared to that.