Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Istanbul uprising: Turkish vocabulary lesson

Still wondering what all those people in the street have been chanting since mass protests broke out on Friday or what all that new graffiti around the city says? Here's a handy guide to what they probably didn't teach you in Turkish class:

AVM > shopping mall
The Turkish acronym stands for "alışveriş merkezi" (shopping center). Since the initial protests were sparked in part by plans to build a shopping mall on Gezi Park, you'll see lots of mall-related slogans around, such as this one written on the Demirören AVM on İstiklal Caddesi: "AVM yıkılsın yerine park yapılsın" -- Let the mall be torn down and a park built in its place.

boyunu eğme > literally, "don't bow your neck"
This one's been popping up on signs all over lately, calling for people not to be subservient.

"Stay calm and don't attack police, continue resistance"
cephe > front/side
Often combined with "halk" (people), as in "halk cephesi" (people's front).

çapulcu > looter/riff-raff
Used by Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan to describe the (overwhelmingly peaceful) demonstrators and subsequently sardonically adopted by many protest supporters as part of their Facebook names.

çevik kuvvet > riot police
Literally, "nimble force," or something along those lines.

defol > piss off/go to hell
Don't use this one unless you mean it!

devrim > revolution
Also a man's name.

direniş > resistance/opposition
A form of the same root word appears in the Twitter hashtag #direngeziparki that's being used to spread news about the demonstrations sparked by police violence against a sit-in to protect Istanbul's Gezi Park.

eylem > action
Part of the phrases used for sit-ins, labor actions, police actions, etc.

gaza geldik
This play on words literally translates as "We came to the [tear] gas," but also carries the slang meaning "We got pumped up."

istifa > resignation
Generally heard/seen in the slogans "Tayyip istifa!" or "Hükümet istifa!" calling on the prime minister (Tayyip is his middle, and most commonly used, name) or the government to resign.

isyan > rebellion/revolt
Cleverly incorporated into "İsyanbul" to describe the current situation in the city.

katil > murderer

kimyasal > chemical
As in "Kimyasal Tayyip," referring to the copious use of tear gas to break up protests. The nickname apparently goes back to May Day protests in 2008.

kurtarmak > to save/rescue
You might see this verb conjugated as "kurtaralım," meaning "let's save."

küfür > cuss/curse

milli içki > national drink
A reference to Erdoğan's statement in late April -- before pushing through tighter restrictions on alcohol advertising and sales -- that Turkey's national drink was the non-alcoholic yogurt-based beverage ayran, not beer or the popular local liquor rakı. "Milli içkimiz gaz" is a common current usage, meaning "Our national drink is [tear] gas."

mücadele > struggle

muhalefet > opposition

o.ç.
Shorthand for the Turkish slang for "son of a b*tch/whore." Usually appears before "Tayyip."

saldırı > assault/aggression
Usually combined with "polis" (police).

yaşasın > long live/hurray
Common recent usages include "Yaşaşın Gezi Parkı," "Yaşasın özgürlük" (Long live freedom), and "Yaşasın sosyal medya" (referring to the mainstream Turkish media's initial silence on the protests and police reaction, and/or the prime minster's scapegoating of social media as "the worst menace to society" for its role in spreading the news).

zıpla > jump
The imperative form of "zıplamak" (to jump) has become part of a chant that goes "Zıpla! Zıpla! Zıplamayan Tayyiptir!" -- or "Jump! Jump! Whoever doesn't jump is (a) Tayyip!" Thanks to @barisp for the full explanation of what all those jumping crowds are chanting.

What else is must-know Turkish vocabulary these days? Send me your additions and amendments and I'll update the list.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

As an interpreter, I have been working on my own list:

Topçu Kışlası - Artillery Barracks
polis şiddeti - polis brutality / violence
direniş - resistance
biber gazı - pepper gas
tutuklama - detention
oturma eylemi - sit-down
tazyikli su saldırısı - water cannon attack
TOMA - social intervention vehicle

The Turkish Life said...

Thanks for the additions! I had been wondering about TOMA.

gokcen said...

TOMA - Toplum Olaylarina Mudahale Araci.- social disorder intervention vehicle
POMA - Polis Olaylarina Mudahale Araci. - police disorder intervention vehicle
Commonly referred to the Digger occupied by Carsi( a besiktas football team fan club with the motto" carsi herseye karsi=carsi against everything") to chase a TOMA

gokcen said...

Chapulling see http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chapulling

gokcen said...

Excessive force - orantisiz guc to describe the police activities
Excessive intelligence - orantisiz zeka to describe protesters activities

The Turkish Life said...

Interesting, thanks!

ataturksrepublic said...

It might be useful to have the Turkish abbreviations for the the various political parties and factions and a short description of the history and base

Turkishly Delightful said...

I had been wondering what o.ç. was. The other words I've asked about have been katil (killer) and kimyasal (chemical). Good idea for a post!

The Turkish Life said...

Thanks, Turkishly Delightful! I'll add those as well. A party guide is a good idea too, ataurksrepublic, but a whole 'nother post and a major undertaking at that. Maybe someday!