……..and what do you say?

I was watching “This morning” yesterday and Gino D’acampo was cooking with Holly and Phil. Holly was making a point of reminding Gino to say please when he asked her to chop something or put something in the pan to cook. It got me wondering about manners and how important they are to us Brits and are they as important to other cultures.

Like many people in this country I was brought up to say please and thank you all the time and manners are very important to me. When I first met Hasan and started living with him I did get annoyed with him when he didn’t say please or thank you, it just didn’t occur to him to do so. Obviously there are words in Turkish for please and thank you but I rarely heard them in the same context as we use them. Teşekkür ederim  means thank you and is used to reply to someone asking about someones well being, response to a compliment, but not when being given something like a drink etc;  lütfen is the word for please and I hardly ever heard that uttered in all the time I spent in Turkey.

Hasan and I used to argue about it quite often because without saying please it felt like he was just barking orders at me and I really didn’t like it. Also it really bugged me when I made him a cup of tea or gave him something and he never said thank you. It only took a short while for him to see the light and he quickly caught on that if he wanted an easy life he should remember his manners.

So after watching Gino being prompted several times by Holly on the show I’m thinking maybe it’s the same in Italian culture.

The things we say

One of the problems in a mixed cultural marriage is the differences in language. Even before I met Hasan, when holidaying in Turkey, I learnt a few Turkish phrases such as hello how are you?, yes/no and where is the toilet?. But when Hasan and I got together and later married the need to speak Turkish was more important to me as none of his family and very few of his friends spoke English. As anyone who is married to a Turkish man knows, I had very little help from Hasan so I attended quite a few Turkish lessons, but the best thing I got out of them was meeting some very good friends. So through my own research, perseverance, practice and support from friends in the same boat, I can now understand a lot of what is being said to me as long as it’s spoken clearly. I can now speak enough Turkish to get by in basic conversations, for shopping and out and about.

Luckily for me Hasan’s English is relatively good due to working in tourism for a number of years. But English is a tricky language to master completely with words with many meanings and different ways of saying the same thing. One of the things that usually foxes Hasan is my use of old English sayings, and I have to try and explain what they mean. There are many of them that are used regularly in our lovely language and I’ve just chosen a couple of them and their origins.

Daft as a brush: a nice way of saying someone is a bit silly.

There are 2 possible origins for this saying, the northern word for silly or stupid is soft and a foxes tail is known as a brush, so the original saying could have been soft as a brush. In the second one the brush refers to the chimney sweep boys who were repeatedly dropped on their heads when lowered down the chimney head first, making them a bit daft!

Between a rock and a hard place: no good alternatives in a situation.

This saying comes from Homers tale The Odyssey, the main character Odysseus has to choose a way to go between Scylla and Charybdis. Scylla is a monster on the cliffs, the rock, and Charybdis is a dangerous whirlpool, a hard place. Both were very difficult to overcome.

Hasan’s favourite English saying is “better than a slap in the face with a wet fish”, no need I think to explain that one!