The phrase is used when your guests want to leave, and you want them to stay longer. How would a non-Turkish speaker know this? Easy, by following the Turkish Dictionary’s highly amusing account on Instagram.
The Turkish Dictionary is a labour of love. Literally. Conceived as the lovechild of Aras Kocaoglan, 29, and his Brazilian fiancee Betina Frantz, 25, the Instagram account is a big hit, with 392 thousand followers.
Kocaoglan was on a trip to South America when he met his future fiancee, Frantz, in Porto Alegre a few years ago. He was getting his master’s degree in Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Management at Imperial College London at the time.
A few cross continental trips later, Frantz came to live with Kocaoglan in Turkey in 2016. At first, they entertained each other with literal translations of Turkish idioms and sayings, after which Kocaoglan would go into detail to explain what they really meant.
Kocaoglan was working for an app that offered one on one English lessons with native speakers to ESL (English as a second language) learners. He says he has been in digital marketing for the past five six years. Inspired by his then girlfriend’s delighted reactions to his translations, the duo decided to take their antics to Instagram, and set up the Turkish Dictionary account one year ago, in October 2019.
They started to find Turkish phrases that do not make any sense when translated literally and used them to make their followers laugh. The translations, often funny, many times less than precise, made them famous.
“We select phrases for each day based on whether there is a significance to that day, for example, if it’s raining or if it’s sunny, or if it’s the liberation day of Ankara [from invading forces during the War of Independence]”, Kocaoglan tells TRT World.
“We use phrases that don’t exist in other languages to expand people’s understanding of Turkish and their horizons,” Kocaoglan adds. “After all, your thinking process is limited by the languages you speak.”
Kocaoglan and Frantz have been in Datca at his family’s summer home during the pandemic, he working from home, she attending Istanbul Technical University’s architecture courses online. The couple, who recently got engaged, will be returning to Istanbul in November.
They say their followers are 80 percent Turks, with the remaining people split between girlfriends/boyfriends of Turks and people who are interested in learning languages.
Kocaoglan announces that they will soon have a collection with department store Boyner comprising T-shirts, mugs, sweatshirts and hats. He says “We receive a lot of positive messages, messages of love, and some criticism too sometimes. We try to approach everyone with respect and engage in polite banter.”
According to Kocaoglan, the Turkish Dictionary receives 50 emails a day (“We read them all,” he says). The team that started out as the two of them now has a third member, Mercan Uludag, to deal with the increased attention they are getting. “Mercan and I are responsible for generating content, while Betina does the visuals,” Kocaoglan says.
“In the end, we try to give messages of love and hope, and try to avoid messages of hate and discrimination,” Kocaoglan concludes.
Thumbnail and headline photos: Aras Kocaoglan and his fiancee Betina Frantz are behind the Turkish Dictionary on Instagram. Courtesy of the Turkish Dictionary.