Tag Archives: Language

Expat Living- The Girls’ names

So many people ask me about the girls’ names. How did we choose them? Why those names? What do they mean? So I thought I’d shed some light on the topic.

To start with, Seyfi and I had a deal, I would choose the names, but the need to be modern Turkish names. For Seyfi, it was important that we didn’t have older names that were out of fashion, or religious names.

For me, I wanted a name that sound good in English. It could be a bit different, or spelt differently, but it had to be easy for my family to pronounce. I also didn’t want a name that had any of the funny Turkish letters in it.

Together, we both decided that we didn’t want a middle name. In Turkey, often the middle name is the name that gets used, and that is the opposite in Canada, so we figured forget it, one name is more than enough.

As a teacher of young kids, it was easy to be exposed to lots of different names, some of the names I liked, but always seemed to have a crazy kid attached to them, or some names seemed to generally have a nice kid, or an interesting kid.

Alara was easy to find. I’ve taught a number of Alaras, and they have all been lovely, good girls and the name is easy to pronounce.

As for the meaning, this is where it gets more difficult. I asked two of my students named Alara what it means, and these are the answers I was given.

1- the water that angels wash with.

2- the colour of the rising sun.

Beautiful, just like her.

Ela, it wasn’t originally my first choice for my second daughter. I has originally wanted Lila (pronounced Leela), but I felt that the pronunciation was going to be a problem, we went to Ela, which Seyfi liked more anyway.

Ela means the colour hazel, as in the eye colour. Alara’s eyes are a hazelly green colour, so we thought that maybe Ela’s eyes would be the same, but as of right now she has got the biggest blue eyes, whoops!

It’s still a beautiful name, just like her.

Since we aren’t planning on having any more children I will let you in on what our boy name would have been, Kaan.

It is a very popular boys name, and I will say that although I have taught a lot of boys with this name, they were generally very interesting boys.

It is a very Turkish sounding name, but it is really one of the only boys names that I like.

So, that’s how our two beautiful girls, got their beautiful names. I love when people ask me questions like this!

Expat Living- Language #1

People that I meet are always interested in how I communicate in a different country. This is a topic that will actually take a few post to answer…

I’ll start with an experience in Turkey.

When I first moved to Turkey, I didn’t know any Turkish. I don’t think I had ever even heard Turkish before. Let me tell you something about Turkish, it is completely different from English.

As a language teacher, I can tell you that the best way to learn a language is to be completely immersed in it. However, for the first year that I lived in Ankara, I rarely spoke a word of Turkish. I worked at a language school where speaking anything other than English was forbidden. None of my students were allowed to speak Turkish to me, and at the time I was working so much that I rarely left the school.

So, when I met Seyfi, I could barely put a sentence together. Sure I could read a basic menu, and ask a bus driver to pull over so I could get off, say some really basic grammar structures, but that was it.

It was when things between Seyfi and i got serious, and I met his parents, that I thought I’d better get working on my Turkish. Seyfi sat down with me and went through some more of the grammar and vocabulary. I slowly started to get better.

A few months later, I asked my parents to come and see where I was living, and to meet Seyfi and his family. (I knew I would marry him, and wanted them to see where I would be living, and who I’d be with).

Now, I am going to tell you a funny story, a story that my in laws tell everyone, a story that I tell students to make them feel better when they make mistakes in my class room…

While they were in Turkey, we travelled around together, Seyfi was always there to help us out with the language. But one afternoon, in a different town, Seyfi and my dad had to go to get the car looked at, so my mom and I went to a little restaurant to get something to eat.

I think my mom was a bit nervous about going to a restaurant without Seyfi, but a reassured her, that there would be no problem, that I could speak Turkish now, that all would be fine.

So, we sat down, looked at the little menus on the table and decided to get some soup. Here is how the conversation went:

Waiter: Hoşgeldiniz. Welcome.
Me: İki çorap, lütfen. Two socks, please. (Pointing at soup)
Waiter: Pardon?
Me: iki çorap, lütfen. Two socks, please. (still pointing at soup)
Waiter: Pardon, çorap? Pardon? Socks?
Me: Evet, çorap… Ah! No! Corba istiyorum! Yes, socks… Ah! No! I want soup!
Waiter: hahaha (laughing at the cute foreigner with her mom!)

I made this mistake for years! My mother in law thinks it is hilarious, my mom still mentions it to me. But most importantly, this story helps my students see that anyone can make a mistake when learning a new language, the most important think is to just keep trying, because when you stop being nervous, and learn the language, an whole new world will open up to you.