Thursday, May 28, 2009


Living in Istanbul is like having an in-depth case-study of Turkish anthropology. I have noticed common "quirks" that people use here, discovered what the "quirks" mean, and I, ever keen to be as "local" as possible, have even adopted some of these quirks into my own mannerisms. Yeah, I can say that I can act like a local here (ha ha), though I'm pretty sure no one will ever mistake me for one!

Some Turk-isms:
  • The hard blink - It's very common for people to greet you with a hard or exaggerated blink (think I Dream of Jeannie without the arms and head nod). It's usually accompanied with a smile. It can also be used as a sign of agreement or any other gesture of general pleasantness.
  • The lip smirk - Instead of saying no, most people will just smirk their lips. Take note that this action must produce some sort of noise. It's like blowing someone a kiss but with a hint of disgust. Sometimes the lip motion is subtle, but you can still hear the smirk.
  • The over-dressing - There seems to be a collective fear of cold in Turkey and people dress to ensure that they won't get cold in case a sudden chill occurs. As it's now warm here in Istanbul, I am usually wearing a tank top, shorts or a skirt and flip flops. I walk around in the sun and I'm sweating, wishing I had worn less. Everybody else? Long sleeve shirts, sometimes even sweaters and sports jackets, always socks/stockings and covered shoes. Even on the hot, crowded buses no one moves to take off their extra layers. I can't understand it.
  • The no-lines policy - The people here do not line up for anything really, unless there are specifically designated lines (such as in a grocery store). In places like bus stops, ferries and such, people just crowd together until everyone is onboard said transportation. "Cutting" in front of people occurs frequently as well. It's not really rude, it's just not very efficient.
Are there any other Turk-isms that you know of that I haven't noticed? If I notice any more, I'll be sure to let you know!

© Connie Hum 2009


  1. To go along with the fear of being cold, I found that the Turks fear catching a cold if the water they drink is chilled. At the water coolers, I noticed people put in mostly chilled water, and then a bit of the warmed water to make it more room temperature.

  2. Haha Steph! I remember that from Space Camp Turkey too!


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