Author Archives: Kenny Legan

Tongue Twister – Turkey

Tongue-Twister- Turkey

Bir berber bir berbere gel birader seninle beraber bir berber dükkani açal?m demi?.

“One barber said to another barber, ‘come brother let’s open a barber shop together.’”

Ahmet grew up in western Turkey and lived there until he went to boarding school in Canada (and later in the U.S.) in 8th grade. He could not provide a transliteration, as he did not know some of the words since there is a big difference in tenses and grammar structure between the Turkish and English language. He knew what it meant in English, he just didn’t know the transliteration. He learned this tongue twister at a young age from his parents. He used it around his friends, as there used to be a competition between his friends to see who could say it the fastest. He said that mainly children use it, as it is a way for them to compete against one-another and it is a form of entertainment for them. It doesn’t have any real significance or meaning in his life, other than it sounds ridiculous and it’s hard to say.

This tongue twister is definitely harder to say in Turkish than in English. Just by observation, many of the words in the Turkish version start with b or have a ‘b’ sound. It doesn’t have the same effect in English because the words do not sound similar, and don’t get your tongue-tied. Ahmet said that the subject of the tongue twister (the barber opening up a barber shop) doesn’t have any special Turkish significance. It is similar to the English tongue twister, “she sells sea shells by the sea shore.” This tongue twister doesn’t really mean anything or symbolize American culture, but it is fun and difficult to say.

Children’s Game – Turkey

Children’s Games: Hide and Seek rhyme- Turkey

Önüm, arkam, sa?am, solum, saklanmayan sobe!

“My front, my back, my right, my left, whoever isn’t hiding is out.”

Ahmet lived in western Turkey until he moved to boarding school in Canada in 8th grade. He is 100% Turkish and his parents and family all still live in Turkey, where he resides during the summer. He said this saying is used when children are playing hide and seek. The seeker must countdown with his eyes closed from 10, and when he reaches 1, he must say the above verse. After saying this, he is free to open his eyes and look around for people who aren’t hiding. If he spots a person in the open, they are out.

Ahmet said he learned this verse from his parents, and it’s something that every kid knows in western Turkey. He doesn’t know how it originated, and was unable to provide the transliteration, as he doesn’t know how it exactly translates into English but knows what it generally means. He said that it was important that this phrase was said after the seeker is done counting down, as it alerts the people who are hiding that he is about to finish and come look for them. If the phrase isn’t said, and the seeker finds someone in the open, argument ensues amongst the kids over whether that person is really out, since the seeker didn’t say the final phrase.

I find this similar to American phrases of the same game. When I was little, the seeker would countdown from a predetermined number, and at the end he must shout, “ready or not, here I come!” I find it interesting that halfway across the world, kids play the same game with very similar rules and employ a warning phrase at the end of the countdown.

The fact that this phrase alludes to all four directions is very important. By saying “my front, my back, my right, my left”, it demonstrates that the seeker is very aware of his surroundings and will look anywhere to find someone hiding. While my American phrase is more personal (“here I come (to look for you)”), this phrase speaks to the people who are hiding as a whole. It shows that the seeker has no single person he wants to find, but rather is looking for everybody equally. It makes a clear statement by saying “whoever isn’t hiding is out”. This is important with kids, as it is black and white and there are no gray areas. If a person is caught in the open after this phrase is said, there is no chance for an argument; that person is out.

It is interesting that children have warning sayings such as this one at the end of the countdown. I think that this shows fairness within the children. It evens the playing field. If the seeker counts too fast, this will at least give the people who are hiding a crucial few extra seconds to hide. It makes sure that the seeker can’t get away with cheating to a large extent. By giving the hiders a warning and thus, that extra few seconds, it promotes fairness as it shows mercy to hiders who couldn’t find a hiding spot right away.

Holiday – Turkey

Turkish Holiday- ?eker Bayram (“Candy Holiday”)

This holiday is on the first three days after Ramadan. Since the date of Ramadan changes each year, as it is based off the lunar calendar, the dates of this holiday change as well. During this time, you are supposed to see your extended family. There is one tradition that is practiced during this time. When you meet your elders, you show respect to them by kissing the back of their hand and then putting their hand on your forehead. If you’re close to the elders, they will proceed to kiss you on the forehead.

Ahmet has been practicing this holiday ever since he was born. He lived in western Turkey until he moved to Canada for boarding school in 8th grade. Every year during this holiday, he sees all his family and relatives. He said the practice of greeting your elders is performed all over Turkey, but ultimately it is an Islamic practice. He also mentioned that this holiday has religious roots, but it is a social holiday more than anything as the government recognizes these three days as holidays for traveling and seeing family and relatives.

Many families also spend the first day visiting graves of deceased relatives. This is significant for Ahmet as it is a sign of remembrance and respect towards the deceased. It shows that they are still in the thoughts of the living. For the second and third days, usually a family in Turkey would just go from house to house to visit different relatives. However, some big families with resources and money available to them (like Ahmet’s family) all meet at one place and gather for three days of celebration. Ahmet’s mom’s side of the family always rents out a big casino for three days so everyone can gather there.

Ahmet doesn’t know why the literal translation of this holiday is “candy holiday”, as the holiday has nothing to do with candy. He said this holiday is significant and meaningful to him because it is the one time per year that he can see all his extended family and relatives in one place. It adds extra significance because he spends most of the year abroad at school in the United States, so this allows him to relax and enjoy the company of his family. He’s not sure of the origins of this holiday either.

I find this holiday interesting, and I think a similar example within the social context of this holiday would be Thanksgiving in the United States. Like this holiday, Thanksgiving is a time when many families gather and enjoy a few days of each other’s company. I also found it interesting that many families in Turkey during these three days travel around from house to house, as they don’t have the resources and money for a big family gathering. This seems very time consuming and if one’s family is scattered all throughout Turkey, it would make it very difficult to see everyone.

One thing I really like about this holiday is that on the first day, families visit the graves of the deceased members of their family. I think this is a very important tradition, as it keeps the deceased alive in their memories and is a great sign of respect, almost as if a family is saying they wish the deceased were joining them during these three days of celebration. It appears as if the family is gathering the deceased members’ spirits from the graves, and bringing them along for the three days so they may be amongst the entire family. There is nothing like this in the United States, as many people rarely visit the graves of deceased members of their family during one big holiday. Personally, I have only visited the grave on my deceased Grandmother once since she passed away about five years ago. I like this Turkish and Islamic tradition a lot, and I have a great appreciation for the government in that it allows three days of holidays just for travel to see family.

Riddle – Minnesota

Riddle: Abalone

Riddle: There are two men celebrating a one-year anniversary of a shipwreck at a restaurant. One man (man #1) orders steak and the other man (man #2) orders abalone. The man that orders steak takes a bite and is satisfied.  The other man that orders abalone takes a bite, runs outside, and shoots himself. Why?

Answer: There were three people on a ship: the two men and the wife of man #2. When the ship is wrecked, the wife of man #2 dies, and the two men swim to a nearby island. One night, while waiting to be rescued, the two men needed food, so man #1 secretly serves man #2 his dead wife, telling him that he is eating abalone. At the restaurant a year later, man #2 takes a bite of abalone noting that it tastes nothing like the “abalone” he had on the island. Upon realizing that man #1 lied to him and that he didn’t eat abalone on the island, but rather he ate his wife, he went outside and shot himself.

Alex said he heard this riddle while he was at a summer camp called Outward Bound, located on the boundary waters of Minnesota. A fellow camper who was from upstate New York but was half-Japanese and half-French told it to him, but Alex does not know where the fellow camper learned it. They used it to pass the all the empty time they had. Alex says he still uses this riddle because it is fun and hard and nobody can ever get it. In order to make it a little tougher, sometimes he doesn’t mention that they were

celebrating an anniversary of a shipwreck, but usually people need that hint otherwise the riddle could take days to solve.

I am not sure why the fish is abalone as opposed to any other kind of fish. I suppose that since man #1 didn’t want man #2 knowing he was eating his own wife, he had to make up a really exotic fish name for man #2, a fish he has never eaten before so that he can’t recognize the taste. It is interesting to note that Alex heard this from a person of Japanese and French descent, but I don’t think this relates to the origins of the riddle. Abalone is found in many places throughout the world, so it is possible it came from Japan or France, but it is also very likely to have come from any number of places.

I have not heard this riddle other than from Alex. However, I use it in the same way as him. Whenever I am at a camp, or looking for a way to pass the time with friends, I give them this riddle and it usually keeps everyone entertained for an hour. This riddle is for all age groups and can be used anytime, not just with teenagers who are at camp looking to pass the time.

Recipe – Mexico

Recipe- Guacamole

Take avocadoes, pit them, throw them in a bowl and mash them up with a potato masher. It is important not to mash them too much however, because there still should be some little chunks of avocado left. Then dice tomatoes and onions, except there should be twice as many more tomatoes as onions. Throw the tomatoes and onions into the bowl with the mashed up avocadoes in it, maybe add a little cilantro, and mix all that up with a spoon. Then add a pinch of salt and mix it in, and keep adding salt until it tastes right. Then bury the pit in the middle of the bowl to keep the flavor and sprinkle some limejuice on top so the guacamole doesn’t turn brown. Don’t put too much limejuice on though, as it dominates the taste. However, many times the limejuice isn’t even needed because the guacamole is usually gone before it has the chance to turn brown!

Alex learned this recipe while he was with his family at his uncle’s house in San Diego over spring break this year. He learned it from his mom, who is 100% Mexican, but she grew up in Chicago and has lived in the United States her whole life. Alex has also lived in the United States his whole life, but said that this is a family recipe that has been passed down on his mom’s side for generations. His mom learned it from her mom, who was an immigrant from Mexico. The recipe comes from Mexico, but he isn’t sure where in Mexico it comes from or when it was started in his family.

There is no reason as to why Alex just learned this recipe this year, other than he wanted to learn how to make it. There is no passing down ritual or time that a person in his family is supposed to learn the recipe. He said his family usually prepares the guacamole for big family gatherings. Whenever his extended family gets together for big events such as Christmas, Mother’s Day or Easter, his mom and his aunts make the guacamole. However, he said his family prepares it for smaller occasions as well.

This recipe shows that guacamole is truly an important part of the Mexican culture. The fact that this recipe includes specific details such as leaving little chunks of avocado in the bowl, or sprinkling limejuice on the top so it doesn’t turn brown, demonstrates that this recipe has been prepared many times and tweaked to Alex’s family’s liking. An original recipe would not include such small and specific details. Guacamole’s role in Mexican culture is also demonstrated when Alex’s family prepares it during large family gatherings. Since Alex’s family and relatives always prepare it when his mom’s side (the Mexican side) of the family gets together, it must have a big impact and mean a lot within the Mexican culture and within Alex’s family.