Monday, September 12, 2011

Turkish Language Mishap #31

When I first began teaching, oh so many years ago, I had an experience that was  rather embarrassing. I was teaching the suffix - ish as in – "in a way, or like." I had worked out the lesson and made photocopies and all that. As I was passing the copies out to my adult students, I detected a murmur and a gasp and a few other odd sounds. But, trooper that I am, I proceeded. After a quick explanation of how -ish worked and what it meant, we went through the examples.
Something like..

1. I don't have my watch but I think it must be (twelve)
2. Although George is nearly forty he still looks (young)

Everything was fine and dandy and then I stepped on the bomb...

3. I had to leave class because I was feeling (sick)

The girl I called on absolutely refused to answer the question. She kept saying, "Pass!"
So I called on the next student. Same thing. Finally one student said, "Hocam, I will answer it but can you close the door first?"
All of this defied my understanding. Eventually, after some nervous giggles, we skipped the question and moved on. Later, I was in a tea house with my Turkish friends and I was trying to explain the strange event to them. Before I could finish,  they all burst out laughing and guffawing and pounding the table.
I was left with a big fat question mark over my head.
One of them finally explained.  The word you wanted them to say was...." he gulped,and whispered, "sickish."
"Yes, so?"
"Well, you don't know but the word, sick means penis in Turkish. and Ish means work."
"Oh dear.. but.."
"Together they are a common slang for the sex act."

When I caught my breath, I thought, "penis-work" equals screwing? Hmm.. isn't that rather sexist? That certainly doesn't leave much for the woman to do.


  1. Hi Nomad,

    Dear oh dear!

    An easy mistake to make I guess.




  2. Everything I do tends to fall into that category, PM.


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