Izmirian language, İzmirlinin Dili

Being Izmirian

I am an Izmiran. I was born and raised in Izmir. I lived there more than 30 years. I love my city and I am proud of my city. Even though since 2001 I live in Portland Oregon, I still care izmir more than here. No other city or a place can replace my Izmir in my heart. Izmir is unique. The language, people, the atmosphere, Aegean sea, Izmir bay, the relax life style. Being a photographer I travel a lot. I have seen many other cities. My love towards my city never changed. Just like loving your mom, you can not love somebody else as much as you love your mom. My mom was a true Izmir lover. She loved her city. She used to talked about Izmir like there is no other city exist in the world. I understood her passion towards the city. I inherited from her. Maybe because of that even though I do not speak Turkish where I live, I try to keep my own language alive. Reading daily newspaper, reading books, making a lot of regular long-distance calls to my family.

I try to teach a few Turkish words to my clients such as:
Naber? / how are you doing?
çay içelim / let’s have tea

Do I miss to hear Izmiran words? Sure I do. That is one of the reason I go there every year even for a short time, to keep up with what is going on in my city…
The language defines us. If I am who I am, I also owe to my city and to my language that made me who I am.
Firstly I am an Izmirian woman, a liberal, open minded, a hard working person, who loves to travel, enjoy trying new things, eager to learn.

Often I think about meaning and usage of the words that Izmirian use.
Such as:
“Canım gevrek çekti”
I feel like eating gevrek ( a type of pasty similar to sesame bagel ) in the rest of the country it is called simit, in Izmir it is gevrek

“Asfalyalarımı attırma”
Do not make me pissed off!

“Kordon’da buluşuruz bu akşam.”
Let’s meet at Kordon this evening. Kordon means for Izmirian going to any pub/bar/cafe at Kordon, the bay side, water front.

“Öğleden sonra Kemeraltına gidelim”
Let’s go to Kemeralti this afternoon.
If a few people will go to Kemeraltı to shop, you would meet in front of Saat Kulesi (clock tower). That is the place everyone meets with others.

My mom used to say: (bir kaç İzmirli deyimleri, tabirleri, kelimeleri aklımda kalan)
Buradan aşağı Marko Paşa, ver beş kuruş in daha aşağı!” It means that whatever your are after, that things is not going to happen. You will not achieve to your goal.

Another one:
“Derdini Marko Paşa’ya anlat”
Do tell your trouble to Marko Paşa.it means that I am not listening to you.

“Koş bir çiğdem al gel” (İzmirliler ay çekirdeğine çiğdem der).
Go buy sun flower seeds. To eat as snack. (Izmirian calls sun flower as çiğdem, rest of Turkey calls it ay çekirdeği)

“Leblebi, nohut da al çiğdemin yanına.”
Buy chickpeas and sunflowers seeds for snack. Izmirian calls white skin chickpeas nohut instead of leblebi.

“Gidelim anneannenin bahçesindeki yemişleri toplayalım”
Let’s go to pick figs from your grandmother’s fig tree. Izmirians calls fig as yemiş, rest of Turkey calls incir.

“Yaz gelse de darı yesek” (Izmirian calls corn as darı, rest of Turkey calls it mısır)
I wish it was summer so we would eat corn. (either boiled or fire-roasted corn)

“Domat aldın mı?” (Izmirian calls tomato as domat, rest of Turkey calls it domates)
Did you buy tomatoes?

“Çökelekli biber yapalım kahvaltıya”
Let’s cook a dish for a breakfast. (it is called Çökelekli biber. It is made of frying green peppers with Çökelek – a type of cheese (similar to ricotto cheese). My dad makes excellent this breakfast dish. In Istanbul they call it ekşimek to çökelek! I must clarify Çökelekli biber is commonly consumed by the immigrants who moved izmir. When i say immigrants it means balkan people. Like my family. My dad was born old Yugoslavia, now it is called Macedonia. My mom’s side came from Yugoslavia also. There are a lot of Balkan people who live in Izmir.

“Ben bir fincan adaçayı alayım. Ben de bir bardak ayran.”
Can I have a cup of adaçayı (sage tea) . I like to have a glass of ayran.
it is spring and you are around Karşıyaka çarşı (bazaar) then you give a break shopping, stop by old train station, have some adaçayı or ayran!
Ayran is very typical Turkish cold drink for all seasons.

“Boyoz yiyelim, haşlanmış yumurta da olsun yanında”
Let’s eat boyoz with a boiled egg. Boyoz is a type of pastry commonly eating with boiled egg. Boyoz is a bit similar to Croissant, only it is not sweet, it is salty. It is made of a type of oily flaky dough.

“Kumrunun yanına bir de çay getir!”
Bring a glass of tea next to kumru. Kumru is an oval shape pastry, covered with sesame seeds, filled inside white cheese, (sometimes kaşar peynir, I prefer white cheese though) slices of tomatoes, a piece or slice of thin green chili pepper (usually hot). If you are around Alsancak after midnight, do not be surprised to see people in the line waiting in order to eat either hot kumru or yengen sandviç in front of food courts. (Around sevgi yolu / as American soldiers called lover’s end). If it is summer they are open till 2-4 am.

“Salep içmeye gidelim”
If it is winter, then you hear people say let’s go to drink salep. Salep is a milky drink made with dried powdered roots of a mountain orchid. I absolutely love to drink salep. Whenever I travel to Turkey a bring back at least a few package of it in my luggage. So far they did not arrest me smuggling drugs at the airport (I am disappointed by the failing TSA guys) but all Izmirian loves a bit excitement, I am no different…

“Izmirin havasına da kızına da güvenme”
Do not rely on Izmirian weather or girls. It means that weather can change quickly in a sunny day, it may pour rain, do not treat bad to Izmirian girls, they may dump you suddenly.
This is commonly said by the people who are not Izmirian, about izmir :)

“Hadi Asansöre gidelim! “
Let’s go to elevator.
The elevator is a historical building in İzmir’s Karataş quarter. Today there is a restaurant on top, great place to eat dinner and watch stunning sunset on Izmir bay. For Izmirians Asansör often meant Asansör Street (Asansör Sokağı) more than just an elevator, it is one of the landmarks of İzmir. The Asansör was built in 1940s, and one of the residents of the street was the famous singer Dario Moreno. Because of that the street was renamed Dario Moreno Street in memory of the singer. The Asansör was constructed by Nissim Levy in 1907 to save people the precipitous climb up from Mithatpasa Caddesi to Halil Rifat Pasa Caddesi in the old jewish quarter of Izmir.

A few things about Izmirian life style

When Izmirian rent a flat or buy a flat (building) they choose the largest balcony places. Practically Izmirians live on their balconies. Summers days are hot and long, if you have a flat with no balcony, you can not breath at home! If you own an apartment with no balcony, good luck selling that place to an Izmirian! Especially July and August you will not see cats running around during the day. You may wonder what is that mean? it means if street cats are under the cars, then then you know it will be cooking hot that day.
As famous description:
“Ter sırtından aşağı süzülüp külodunu ıslatmamışsa hava sıcak sayılmaz.”
If tear drops did not make your underwear wet, then it is not that hot day yet.

Izmir bay is where people go to breath in the city. That’s why day and night you will see people by the bay. They meet with friends, relatives, lovers, chit chat at cafe’s, drink something cold in the bars. The most stunning sunset you will ever see is always in Izmir. People love that show. You will see hundreds of them every evening stop by watch the sunset by that bay, it is almost like a special ceremony for Izmirians. It does not rain much, so if it is then you know it’s time to take a break, go have some tea at teashops, cafes. you can always find an excuse to have tea. chatting over a glass of tea it the daily habit for izmirians. So where do you meet? Call your friend and tell her or him, let’s meet in front of Sevinç Cafe or Lozan gate or Montro gate. Then you can decide which coffee house you will go or cinema. One of the biggest difference you will see women in İzmir are more independent. They work next to men without holding back, without pushed by the men. For a conservative tradition society quite different life style than rest of the country. You will see women in bazaar as sellers, have their own shops, they work in any field. Girls are much more free to choose who they want to be friend and fall in love and marry. Girls can be friend with boys. They can play in the streets, they can hang out at the bars with their boy friends or just friends without afraid of getting bad labels. Much different than other parts of Turkey. Since they feel equal to men their success in the work life is higher.

If I need to compare to Izmir to an American city as an atmosphere I would call Izmir is the San Francisco’s of USA. It is very liberal, from the hot climate of Aegean, a bit laid back, love to eat late dinners, shop late hours, fond of entertain, keen on freedom. Izmirians love to go to fair, visiting zoo in the culture park. During hot summer days hanging around with friends by the water front (Kordon), drinking beer Efes of course; if you are young on the grass at water front parks, middle ages go to bars or restaurants. You can see happy faces drinking Rakı at fish restaurants, and probably eating an Aegean fish “çupra”, that is very Izmirian life style.

Author: Nur KARLICA Roy

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