Tripping up in
Indonesia the words 'cinta' means love and 'prity', a male person,
I am told. To the Malaysians these words may carry similar meanings,
as there is a close affinity between the two languages. I am
unlikely to feel comfortable being addressed 'prity' even by
the fairest of the fairs. But this is what makes a language
unique. I reckon one must not take a language in the light of
ones own mother-tongue or the other languages known to him,
but as a separate entity.
encounter with the Turkish language was, to say the least, hair-raising.
When I first moved into an apartment in a lovely hill-top city
in Turkey, I was in immediate need of a few pieces of furniture.
I had actually strolled around all known locations to buy those
and sallied to places where these were manufactured. What prevented
me from striking a deal was my inability to speak the tongue.
It so happened
that during one of our routine meetings with the head of the
institution where I was a foreign recruit, the 'Mudur', as the
chief of an institution is called, asked me if he could do anything
to make me more comfortable. I immediately seized upon the opportunity
to seek his help in buying the furniture I needed. When asked
if I had tried to procure those on my own, I replied that I
had even ventured on a trip to a factory but failed.
is a factory? Asked my Mudur looking inquiringly at the Turkish
English teacher who was interpreting for me.
one of my young colleagues, having failed to grasp the word
requested me to repeat it, which I did and even volunteered
to give him a lead with the Bangla word 'karkhana', which I
believed might fit in. By then, I had learned that Turkish words
like 'ayna', 'tahta' and 'ac(h)' were 'ayna', 'takta' and 'gach'
ie mirror, plank and tree respectively in Bangla.
said that I had been to the 'karkhana' where these things were
painted and polished.
he murmured. "Isn't it too early for you to pay a visit
there?" said the Mudur with a nasty grin on his face.
understanding the drift of the question, I replied, "Oh!
I made a mistake, I should have taken you along with me. You
could have also appreciated all the pretty, elegant and fashionable
collections there absolutely European in look and style."
Oblivious of the aghast look on the face of the Mudur and the
exchanges of glances among the women teachers present, I continued,
"I simply fell in love with some of them, in fact I wanted
to buy one of them, but alas!......."
have you been to, Mr Shaheed?" The bewildered interpreter
cut me short.
the factory where furniture are manufactured," I said in
my innocence. Trying to be more explicit I explained, "A
factory is an industry".
a 'kerhane' is a brothel," he explained.