What are some basic Turkish words I should know?

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Turkish is very different from English, so sometimes even basic things are a little complicated. Luckily a few things are similar – taxi is the same but spelled taksi; the metro is metro.

Here are a few basics, broken down.

Hello:

“Merhaba” (MEHR-hah-bah)

or

“Selam” (say-lahm)

Goodbye:

Official: “güle güle” (goo-lay goo-lay) is said to the person who is leaving, and “hoş çakalın” (HOESH chalk-all-un) by the person walking out the door.

Cheat: you can also get away with “bye bye.”

Also: it is common to say “good day” instead, which is “iyi günler” (ee-yee goon-LEHR).

Yes:

"Evet" (eh-vett)

No:

"Hayir" (high-year)

Please:

“Lütfen” (loot-fehn)

Thank you:

Official: “teşekkürler” (tesh-e-koor-lehr)

Cheat: you can also say “mersi” (mehr-see)

How much?:

“Ne kadar?” (nay kah-dahr)

Where is…?:

“…nerede?” (nehr-eh-deh).

Always put whatever you’re looking for first, because Turkish sentence structure is opposite from English. So if you’re looking for Hagia Sophia, you would say “Hagia Sophia nerede?”

Bathroom:

“Tuvalet” (too-vah-let). Or, to be a little more polite, “lavabo” (lah-vah-bo).

I don’t speak Turkish:

“Türkçe bilmiyorum” (turk-chay bill-me-yor-um).

One beer please:

Bir bira lutfen (replace bira with any of the following words to order).

Foods:

 

  • Ekmek (bread).
  • Meze (appetizer small dishes, like tapas).
  • Su (water).
  • Hamsi (fish from Balck Sea, like anchovies).
  • Simit (Turkish bagels with sesame).
  • Lokum (Turkish Delight) .
  • Lahmacun (“Lahmajun” Turkish pizza with minced lamb).
  • Pide (“Peedeh” Baked flat bread, often with meat, cheese or spinach).
  • Borek (“Boereck” Savory phyllo dough pastries with meat, veggies or cheese).
  • Manti (Turkish ravioli with minced meat, served with yogurt).
  • Sucuk (“Soujouk” Turkish pepperoni).
  • Patlican (“Pat-lih-jan” eggplant-the king of Turkish cuisine).
  • Dolma (not just grape leaves, but stuffed peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, cabbage leaves..).  
  • Doner (Doe-nehr: Gyros).
  • Kebap (meat of different varieties, usually grilled).

Numbers:

1 – bir (beer)

2 – iki (icky)

3 – üç (ooch)

4 – dört (dort)

5 – beş (besh)

6 – altı (ahl-tuh)

7 – yedi (yeh-di)

8 – sekiz (seh-keez)

9 – dokuz (doh-kooz)

10 – on (ohn)


 


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Emily Von Kohorn •Istanbul, Turkey

American Expat living in Istanbul - working, exploring, and eating all the mezes she can get her hands on.

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