Are you ready for the cold, flu, and allergy season in Turkey…?
When cold and flu season came around while I was growing up in the States, if a friend/family member sneezed, it was traditional for bystanders to say Bless you! or God Bless you! or Gesundheit! (The latter being used more frequently by German relatives on my mother’s side.) If a friend/family member sneezed multiple times, we just kept repeating Bless you! or Gesundheit! And, about the only reply the sneezer might utter was a watery-eyed Thank you.
Where Peri was growing up in Turkey there was quite a different tradition for the same sneezing scenario when the cold and flu season struck. If someone sneezed in Peri’s household, the most usual bystander response was Çok yaşa! (Long may you live! or To your long life!)
And the sneezer would traditionally reply Sen de gör (May you see long life too).
But, for multiple sneezes (up to 3), sneezing etiquette at Peri’s house became more elaborate — and it remains pretty much the same today.
Bystander says Çok Yaşa! (Long Life!).
Sneezer says Sen de gör (You too).
Bystander says Bin Yaşa! (1,000 Long Lives!).
Sneezer says Sen de gör or
Hep beraber (Let it be true for both/all of us).
Bystander says On Bin Yaşa! (10,000 Long Lives!).
Sneezer says Sen de gör
or Hep beraber.
If you stick with the above, you’ll be fine when it comes to your own sneezing etiquette in Turkey. But to keep you on your toes (and complicate matters a little further)… the following is also considered good Turkish sneezing etiquette…
Bystander says Çok Yaşa!
Sneezer says Sen de gör.
Bystander says Güzel Yaşa! (May you live to a beautiful age!).
Sneezer says Sen de Gor.
Bystander says Uzun Yaşa! (Long Life!) and/or
Torun okşa (May you caress many grandchildren).
Sneezer says Hep Beraber.
Why ‚God Bless You‘ in Turkish isn’t used for sneezing situations…
In the first place, there’s no universally agreed translation for ‚God Bless You‘ in Turkish. In the second place, about the closest you can get to that meaning is the phrase ‚Allah senden razı olsun‘ (May you and God be as one). But that colloquial phrase is already reserved for the purpose of saying ‚Thank you‘ (for a favor or good deed), and would be quite inappropriate if used for a sneezing event due to cold, flu, or allergy — or for an ordinary nose tickle.
[Click following to access a fully illustrated HTML version of The Official Turkish Sneezing Guide.]
Jim and (co-author) Perihan Masters are a husband and wife team, living on the Aegean Coast of Turkey just 50 miles south of Izmir. Jim was born in Shanghai, China — of American military parentage. Peri was born on the Black Sea coast of Turkey near Trabzon, of Turkish military parentage…Enticed by a Financial Times advertisement, Jim joined a NATO sponsored enterprise in Ankara in 1974 where he met the beautiful and brainy Perihan, a rising young Turkish banking executive. Settled now in the heart of what was once the ancient Ionian Empire — the couple live an idyllic life by the sea.. writing, drawing and painting, teaching English, and providing computing service support to local businesses. They also sponsor the MSNBC award-winning Learning Practical Turkish Website [http://www.learningpracticalturkish.com/] which has built an enthusiastic international following of devoted Turkophiles and inquisitive language students of all ages.
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