Ne Ekersen, Onu Bicersin — Turkish Proverb

Main Piece: 

Ne ekersen, onu bicersin.


Whatever you plant, you grow it.

Full Translation: 

It means like whatever you plant— [a friend] explained it better — it’s like whatever you plant, that’s gonna grow. So if you start a relationship bad, then you’re gonna end up with a bad relationship, or if you start a relationship good, you’ll have a good one in the long run. 


My informant is one of my friends from high school, and is of Turkish heritage. Growing up, he often remembered hearing various Turkish sayings and narrative stories from his parents and extended family. When I asked him what he thought the meaning of this proverb was, he said that the “idea is being nice to others because they’re gonna treat you the same way.”


This piece came up when I was asking my informant about what kind of Turkish folklore he knew. Coincidentally, us and some other friends were talking about a similar variation of the proverb a few days over, so this gave him the opportunity to share the version he’d grown up hearing in his family. 


The version of this proverb that my friends and I were discussing the other day was “you reap what you sow,” but it was still interesting to hear another variation of the same saying, and even more that it still kept to the symbolism around gardening and farm work. However, I think that this Turkish proverb had a different context than the other version I know about. The way I heard it, the context for “reaping what you sow” had to do with situational conflict— a scenario that was a consequence of the person’s own actions. Here though, we see that the conflict has to do with a person’s relationship to someone else, and I think it’s important to note how the meaning changes with the context. In the version I heard, I interpreted the proverb as a warning against being irresponsible and neglecting your responsibilities. The way my friend described his version though, it seems that the lesson here places a responsibility on having cordial relationships with others, and being considerate of how first impressions can affect your bond with someone going forward. Without having asked, I’m not sure if which values this reflects in Turkish culture, but it’s still interesting to examine how proverbs and their meanings can differ slightly based on the interpretations of different people.