Taking a break from life this morning, I want to write about the Turkish language. People are always asking me if it is hard to learn. I don’t find it difficult, it’s just different. If you are a language person, you probably will get it pretty easily. The key is to stop translating and start learning like babies do.
There are many problems with direct translation, one of them being that there is not always a Turkish word for the English equivalent. This became very clear to me when I tried to find a book on verbs. There is “501 English Verbs”, “501 German Verbs”, “501 Spanish Verbs”, etc. But when I found the Turkish book, it was only “201 Turkish Verbs”. Not as nicely done as the others either, but still a great way to learn!
Every once in a while, I do come across the exact opposite situation. Take the word “half” for example. Turks have two words, yarım and buçuk. I don’t know the rhyme or reason behind this. What I do know is that it just takes practice! Below are some tips for you.
- 00:30 (aka 12:30 a.m.) – Saat Yarım or simply yarım assuming the conversation is about time.
- 1:30 – Saat bir buçuk
- I will see you in half an hour – Yarım saat. Notice the word order changed from the time above.
- I am not positive, But I assume if I were coming to meet you in one and a half hours it would be bir buçuk saat sonra.
- Half a kilo – Yarım kilo.
- One and a half kilos – Bir buçuk kilo (this one is interesting to me, only when using the number one, bir, because bir is often used sometimes with a slightly different meaning, something like “a”. But this phrase does not mean I want a half of a kilo, it means I want one and a half kilos.)
- 1,50 TL – Bir buçuk TL
- 0,50 TL – No idea. Following this lesson, it would be Yarım TL, but something tells me it is not. It is probably just 50 kuruş. Do you know????
‘Yarım’ is used only when it means half of 1. Other than that, it is always ‘buçuk’ 🙂 So, you can use ‘yarım’ when you mean half of 1 bread, half of 1 o’clock, etc, but you need to use ‘buçuk’ for the rest.
Thanks for the lesson Ozlem! Any other points on this we should know about?
As I learnt Turkish “on the hoof” I hadn’t even noticed this anomaly. Def. Fifty kuruş though.
No half lira!!! Thanks!
If it’s 1 lira 50 kuruş you would say bir buçuk lira but not for half a lira on its own – if that makes sense.
Hi. another a dilema usage for you..You can say “yarım ekmek” (half of bread) but you cant say “buçuk ekmek”..or you can say “yarım elma” half of apple..etc..
Thanks for a relevant post and I think I will order the book, since I am going to take a Turkish course in January, so I am excited to see how it will be.. I hope I pick it up as easily as you have done.
Did you buy this book in Ankara? I’ve just started studying and this looks like an excellent resource.
No, I have never seen it in Ankara. I bought it in the U.S. thanks for reading the blog!
özlem is right; 0< YARIM < 1 which means yarım is half of one. but buçuk means "and a half"; there must be a number before it.
yarım = half
buçuk = and a half
additionally, you can say "saat yarım" which indicates that it's 12:30 (a.m and p.m.). this confuses me as a native turkish speaker why "saat yarım" is not 12