Thursday, May 19, 2011

Milestone reached !

I got to wear the tam and hood a few weeks ago. My college loans are in the process of flipping from income to expenses. And, I have published my dissertation as a mass-market paperback.

How to Repair a Broken World uses both qualitative and quantitative research techniques to examine Nutuk. Since my "day job" is technical writing, I read this overlooked masterpiece and The City of God (by 5th century African writer Augustine) as instruction manuals for those who would repair their cultures.

Click on this link to order your copy!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Substantive thoughts (Prov. 21:5)

A substantive is a noun based on an adjective. The quality of being hard is -- hardness, for example. Wet and wetness. Weak and weakness. Other examples are less predictable: high, height. Poor, poverty. Happy, happiness. Other languages employ the same technique of adding a suffix or infix to work that magic. The only word of Afrikaans most people instantly recognize adds their usual syllable -heid to the adjective apart (English equivalent, apart) to create the name of their distinctive social system, apartheid.

In Turkish, the syllable used to convert an adjective into a noun comes in four flavors:
  • -lık-
  • -lik-
  • -luk-
  • -lük-
Don't worry, you'll get used to this quirk of the language fairly early in your studies, and see these four varieties as the same. It's called "vowel harmony," and the appropriate syllable depends on the syllable before it.

Another short syllable with a big meaning comes in two flavors, -la- and -le- and means "with, by means of."

And that brings us to today's proverb:
Proverbs 21:5 Çalışkanın tasarıları hep bollukla, Her türlü acelecilik hep yoklukla sonuçlanır.
Çalışkanın is a word you'll soon master if you study the Book of Proverbs in Turkish, since it is one of the virtues most frequently celebrated in this guide for living well: informs us that it means diligent. energetic. industrious. sedulous. studious. hard-working.

My goodness, now THIS is fascinating. The Hebrew word translated into English as the hazy, indistinct and generic word thoughts has a more specialized, specific, and focused word in Turkish: tasarı, which means project. plan. scheme. bill. draught. design. proposal. set-up. bill. draft of a proposed law. written proposal. blueprint for action. draft. projection. schema. Now THAT is a cluster of words dear to a technical writer's heart!

And, let's look at the three substantives in this brief aphorism:
  • bollukla -- bol = abundant. plentiful. generous. plenty. full. rich. wealthy. loose. hefty. wide. baggy. abounding. affluent. ample. bounteous. bountiful. copious. effusive. exuberant. fecund. flush. handsome. hearty. lavish. liberal. lush. luxuriant. opulent. plenteous.
  • acelecilik -- hasty. hustler. impatient. slippy. precipitant. rash. precipitate. precipitous. brash. impetuous. headfirst. headforemost. headlong. precipitate.
  • yoklukla -- yokluk = absence. dearth. exiguity. failure. famine. hardship. lack. neediness. non-appearance. non-existence. nonappearance. nonexistence. nudity. penury. poverty. privation. shortage. strait. tightness. want. straits.
Folks, this is why you all need to sit down, and learn another language, starting today. You can read something in English hundreds of times -- then see new facets, fresh insights, when you examine the same text through another frame of reference, another set of eyes.

Diligent people are paying attention to, and thinking carefully about, what they are doing. They have plans, goals with deadlines. They assume, and operate in terms of, the abundance of opportunities. Small investments, over time, turn into vast fortunes. Five loaves and two fishes placed in the hands of our Lord provide a feast for 5,000. Little things, thoughtfully and carefully done, fill life with lavish wealth. Be kind to your wife, day after day, and you can have a livelier love life in your 50s than you did in your 20s.

In American English, the "get-rich-quick scheme" is a widely-understood term for costly swindles. Folks driven by restless dissatisfaction, or desperate circumstances, can get tempted to cut corners, to max out their credit cards buying sure and easy roads to wealth. When their ship does finally come in, they are at the airport.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Ugly brothers (Prov. 18:9)

This looks like a verse worth memorizing:
İşini savsaklayan kişi Yıkıcıya kardeştir.
Let's dissect this word by word:
  • İşini -- To his work (İş -- work, occupation, job. -in- 3rd person singular possessive. -i direct object ending)
  • savsaklayan -- procrastinating
  • kişi -- a person
  • Yıkıcıya -- to a destroyer
  • kardeştir-- a brother is.
Or, if we visit, the longest word is based on the verb savsaklamak, which means, "to put off doing sth continually. to put sb off with an excuse. to neglect sth / to do sth. neglect. to put on the shelf. temporize."

You know what you need to do, and know you'll do it, just as soon as I finish a, b, or c. It takes effort to "seek first the Kingdom of God." As a wise pastor says, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." None of us sets out to be a derelict with a stack of things we "coulda, shoulda, woulda, done" rather than satisfying achievement. It just kind of happens, as we let our minds run after one little thing after another. I'm reminded of the Pink Floyd song Time:
(Mason, Waters, Wright, Gilmour) 7:06

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way.

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain.
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.

So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older,
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time.
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone, the song is over,
Thought I'd something more to say.
Ben Franklin wrote, "A young man could never dream that 20 pounds or 20 years could be squandered. If you value life, value time, because time is the stuff of life."

Or, as the KJV translates this verse, "He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster. " The Turkish, I think, is more helpful. The essence of sloth is procrastination.

One self-help guru says, repeat this mantra a thousand times a day: DO IT NOW.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A language made for proverbs

Turkish continues to delight, with its knack for compressing big meanings into short words. Such as:
Pr. 15:14 Akıllı yürek bilgi arar, Akılsızın ağzıysa ahmaklıkla beslenir.
Let's compare that to the King James Version of the same verse:
P4. 15:14 The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge: but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness.
A key word here is akıl, which means "mental. reason. intelligence. discretion. wisdom. mind. memory. opinion. thought. advice. apprehension. brain. head. headpiece. intellect. piece of advice. psyche. senses. wit." (thank you,!) To this word we can add the suffix -lı, which means -- having all of the above. Or, the suffix -sız, which means, lacking all of the above. Or, you can combine the original noun with other nouns, to create other vivid descriptive terms:
  • akıl hastanesi -- mental hospital
  • akıl hastası -- lunatic
  • akıl defteri -- notebook
  • akıl hocası -- mentor, spin doctor. (Fans of the Nasrettin Hoca stories recognize that second noun!)
Yürek , of course, is heart, and bilgi is knowledge, understanding, skill. The verb aramak means to search for, and the verb beslenmek means "feed. to feed. to be fed. to be nourished. "

One final noun: ahmaklık means "foolishness. idiocy. stupidity. folly. imbecility. tomfoolery."

Now, this is a proverb very helpful for us wired, digital folks, people who work and play and live with computers and the internet. It takes effort, focus, and disciplined attention to pay attention to what is important. However, we find it all too easy to nibble our way astray, "feeding on" things that attract our attention, then lead it around, and around, and around, by the nose, as we skim the superficial surface to factoids, and watch our minutes and days evaporate, with nothing to show for them.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Better than life (Psalm 63)

Psalm 63 has long been one of my favorites. Here, David sings of his passion for God, his delight in God's presence, his desire to spend time in worship. One sentence, vs. 3, is a useful example of how Turkish does comparisons:
3 Senin sevgin yaşamdan iyidir, Bu yüzden dudaklarım seni yüceltir.
  • Senin -- Yours (2nd person singular)
  • sevgin -- your love
  • yaşamdan -- than life (-dan is the "from" suffix)
  • iyidir -- it is good,
  • Bu -- This
  • yüzden -- from, because of / reason (-den is the "from" suffix)
  • dudaklarım -- my lips
  • seni -- to you
  • yüceltir -- praised.
What is worth more to us than our own lives?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Day and night (Psalm 42)

I enjoy using the e-Sword software provided, free, by Rick Meyers. You can have the Bible on your computer desktop in dozens of different translations, most free, some copyrighted versions for a nominal fee. Little tabs let you select the language of interest. The Parallel feature lets you view several versions simultaneously. This has made it much easier for me to read the Turkish version -- a glance over to the English in the left column helps me puzzle out words that may have drifted out of memory. The compact efficiency of Turkish continues to amaze and delight. Consider, for example, Psalm 42:8 --
8 Gündüz RAB sevgisini gösterir, Gece ilahi söyler, dua ederim Yaşamımın Tanrısı'na.

8 Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.
Let's parse these beautiful words:
  • Gündüz -- Daily
  • RAB -- the LORD
  • sevgisini -- His love
  • gösterir, -- sends
  • Gece -- By night
  • ilahi söyler, -- singing psalms, hymns
  • dua ederim -- praying
  • Yaşamımın -- of my life
  • Tanrısı'na. -- to the God
Waking or sleeping, we are steeped in the care and attention of a loving Creator.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Üzülme -- dealing with foes (Psalm 37)

Jerry Falwell lived a controversial but cheerful life, expiring at his desk at the age of 73. One of his sons, a lawyer, took over Liberty University, the largest Protestant college in the world. The other son, a preacher, inherited the pulpit of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA. Jerry had a simple recipe for dealing with the many enemies he'd made with his outspoken conservative positions:
  • Love them
  • Forgive them
  • Outlive them
I read a favorite Psalm today, number 37 in the Protestant numbering scheme (Catholics merge Psalms 23 and 24 together). It has an invisible pattern that explains why the focus seems to jump around abruptly -- the Hebrews enjoyed word games, such as acrostics. Each verse in the original language begins with consecutive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The key word, showing up time and again, is the second-person imperative negative verb:


OK, so what is it that we are emphatically and repeatedly forbidden to do? Let's look at the dictionary definitions of the root, üzülmek.
feel bad about. feel badly about. bother. bother about. deplore. fret. grieve. languish. regret. rue. sadden. sorrow. trouble. be troubled about. worry. worry oneself. bemoan. deplore. droop. grieve. repine.
I'll append the entire psalm below, but let's look at a few key verses now:

3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. 3 Sen RAB'be güven, iyilik yap, Ülkede otur, sadakatle çalış.

4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
4 RAB'den zevk al, O senin içindeki istekleri yerine getirecektir.

5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
5 Her şeyi RAB'be bırak, O'na güven, O gerekeni yapar.

Another definition: getirecektir, the third person future form of the verb getirmek -- bring. get. bring along. bring in. carry. bear. convey. fetch. introduce. take into. usher. work up. pose. produce. to fetch. to bring in. to yield. to give. to put forward. to bring forth.

And, here's a few verses for folks wondering what to do about depressed economic conditions:

18 The LORD knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever.
18 RAB yetkinlerin her gününü gözetir, Onların mirası sonsuza dek sürecek.

19 They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
19 Kötü günde utanmayacaklar, Kıtlıkta karınları doyacak.

(Do you notice how much more compact Turkish is than English? Another good reason to study this amazing language -- just to admire how much it is possible to pack into a single word!)

A repeated theme throughout this psalm is the inheritance, the legacy. Jesus quoted verse 11 in his "beatitudes:"

11 But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
11 Ama alçakgönüllüler ülkeyi miras alacak, Derin bir huzurun zevkini tadacak.

And, as promised, here is the entire psalm:
Psa 37:1 Kötülük edenlere kızıp üzülme, Suç işleyenlere özenme!
Psa 37:2 Çünkü onlar ot gibi hemen solacak, Yeşil bitki gibi kuruyup gidecek.
Psa 37:3 Sen RAB'be güven, iyilik yap, Ülkede otur, sadakatle çalış.
Psa 37:4 RAB'den zevk al, O senin içindeki istekleri yerine getirecektir.
Psa 37:5 Her şeyi RAB'be bırak, O'na güven, O gerekeni yapar.
Psa 37:6 O senin doğruluğunu ışık gibi, Hakkını öğle güneşi gibi Aydınlığa çıkarır.
Psa 37:7 RAB'bin önünde sakin dur, sabırla bekle; Kızıp üzülme işi yolunda olanlara, Kötü amaçlarına kavuşanlara.
Psa 37:8 Kızmaktan kaçın, bırak öfkeyi, Üzülme, yalnız kötülüğe sürükler bu seni.
Psa 37:9 Çünkü kötülerin kökü kazınacak, Ama RAB'be umut bağlayanlar ülkeyi miras alacak.
Psa 37:10 Yakında kötünün sonu gelecek, Yerini arasan da bulunmayacak.
Psa 37:11 Ama alçakgönüllüler ülkeyi miras alacak, Derin bir huzurun zevkini tadacak.
Psa 37:12 Kötü insan doğru insana düzen kurar, Diş gıcırdatır.
Psa 37:13 Ama Rab kötüye güler, Çünkü bilir onun sonunun geldiğini.
Psa 37:14 Kılıç çekti kötüler, yaylarını gerdi, Mazlumu, yoksulu yıkmak, Doğru yolda olanları öldürmek için.
Psa 37:15 Ama kılıçları kendi yüreklerine saplanacak, Yayları kırılacak.
Psa 37:16 Doğrunun azıcık varlığı, Pek çok kötünün servetinden iyidir.
Psa 37:17 Çünkü kötülerin gücü kırılacak, Ama doğrulara RAB destek olacak.
Psa 37:18 RAB yetkinlerin her gününü gözetir, Onların mirası sonsuza dek sürecek.
Psa 37:19 Kötü günde utanmayacaklar, Kıtlıkta karınları doyacak.
Psa 37:20 Ama kötüler yıkıma uğrayacak; RAB'bin düşmanları kır çiçekleri gibi kuruyup gidecek, Duman gibi dağılıp yok olacak.
Psa 37:21 Kötüler ödünç alır, geri vermez; Doğrularsa cömertçe verir.
Psa 37:22 RAB'bin kutsadığı insanlar ülkeyi miras alacak, Lanetlediği insanların kökü kazınacak.
Psa 37:23 RAB insana sağlam adım attırır, İnsanın yolundan hoşnut olursa.
Psa 37:24 Düşse bile yıkılmaz insan, Çünkü elinden tutan RAB'dir.
Psa 37:25 Gençtim, ömrüm tükendi, Ama hiç görmedim doğru insanın terk edildiğini, Soyunun ekmek dilendiğini.
Psa 37:26 O hep cömertçe ödünç verir, Soyu kutsanır.
Psa 37:27 Kötülükten kaç, iyilik yap; Sonsuz yaşama kavuşursun.
Psa 37:28 Çünkü RAB doğruyu sever, Sadık kullarını terk etmez. Onlar sonsuza dek korunacak, Kötülerinse kökü kazınacak.
Psa 37:29 Doğrular ülkeyi miras alacak, Orada sonsuza dek yaşayacak.
Psa 37:30 Doğrunun ağzından bilgelik akar, Dilinden adalet damlar.
Psa 37:31 Tanrısı'nın yasası yüreğindedir, Ayakları kaymaz.
Psa 37:32 Kötü, doğruya pusu kurar, Onu öldürmeye çalışır.
Psa 37:33 Ama RAB onu kötünün eline düşürmez, Yargılanırken mahkûm etmez.
Psa 37:34 RAB'be umut bağla, O'nun yolunu tut, Ülkeyi miras almak üzere seni yükseltecektir. Kötülerin kökünün kazındığını göreceksin.
Psa 37:35 Kötü ve acımasız adamı gördüm, İlk dikildiği toprakta yeşeren ağaç gibi Dal budak salıyordu;
Psa 37:36 Geçip gitti, yok oldu, Aradım, bulunmaz oldu.
Psa 37:37 Yetkin adamı gözle, doğru adama bak, Çünkü yarınlar barışseverindir.
Psa 37:38 Ama başkaldıranların hepsi yok olacak, Kötülerin kökü kazınacak.
Psa 37:39 Doğruların kurtuluşu RAB'den gelir, Sıkıntılı günde onlara kale olur.
Psa 37:40 RAB onlara yardım eder, kurtarır onları, Kötülerin elinden alıp özgür kılar, Çünkü kendisine sığınırlar.
And that is good news for all who yearn to please their Creator!