Yine Bir Yil, Yine Bir Dil (Another Year, Another Language)

I love languages. That’s a simple enough statement. It’s in present tense, composed of a subject, an object, and a verb. I could probably say it in two other languages without having to look up words, grammar, or translations. I love languages = j’adore les langues = dilleri seviyorum. English, French, Turkish.

I wish I could add Arabic, but that’s my newest language, and as of yet, I can only greet people and say things like “I love you,”  “chicken” and “blood revenge.” (Vocabulary can be a little creative when you’re learning a new alphabet and have only a few letters under your belt.)

I’m not sure why I’m fascinated with languages, why I like the sound of new words on my tongue, why I enjoy sounding like I’m coughing up a hairball while practicing Arabic late into the night (kudos to my very tolerant roommate; she’s learning Italian, but I have a feeling that those sounds are a bit more familiar than some of those you’ll find in Arabic). Perhaps it is because I’ve always had a fascination with words in general. Vociferous reading during your childhood can do that to you.

So how many language classes am I taking this semester? Well, there’s English of course, but that’s a literature course, so we’ll sweep that to the side. There’s French, which I’ve been learning for six years and still can’t speak properly. (High school programs can put you behind sometimes). Then there’s my Elementary Arabic class. Let me just say here and now, while disregarding all modesty, that if ever there was a language made for my voice and my handwriting, it is Arabic. (Hopefully I won’t end up regretting those words once the class gets harder).

And finally, there’s Turkish. Now, Turkish is unlike anything most of us have really heard. It’s not as distinguishable as the romance languages or Arabic or Chinese, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that many people are not exposed to the Turkish language in their lifetimes. In fact, I’d never heard it until I decided to take an intensive class last semester and thought that buying Turkish music beforehand would give me a leg up. (It didn’t, but man, is that stuff catchy!)

Of course, Turkish borrows words from Persian and Arabic, sometimes even French, but it has its own vocabulary as well. And structurally, Turkish is more similar to Finnish and Japanese than it is to any of its neighboring languages. And yet, out of all the languages I want to speak, from French to Arabic to Farsi, Turkish is the one closest to my heart. Maybe it’s because the language is so unique. Maybe it’s because I’ve had an inexplicable fascination with Turkey ever since hearing the song “Istanbul (Not Constantinople).” Whatever the reason, my passion for languages isn’t dying out any time soon. Who knows, perhaps next year I’ll start Hindi! Main tumhen pyar karti hoon!

Audrey Williams

Iowa UNA

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