Başınız sağolsun: A Turkish idiom in honor of the Soma disaster’s anniversary

Relatives praying at the Soma cemetery – after the Soma mining disaster in 2014 (Image from CNN)

Last year was witness to the worst mining disaster in Turkish history…as we drove through the town of Soma last June, the memorial to the miners stood tall.

Black banners and flags flew off of a number of the terraces in the choc-a-bloc apartment buildings, and I imagined sad children and even sadder widows inside.

The little chorus of dancing lady puppets who inhabit my purse, well, they shivered and huddled together.  They are all orphans themselves, you see, sold to the Ottoman court as dancers years ago, so they know what it is to feel a deep sense of loss and sadness, and the madness that can come with it.

In honor of the people who died in the Soma disaster last year, this post introduces a Turkish idiom that the widows and children of the Soma miners may have heard a lot as of late – “başınız sağolsun.”

This idiom literally translates as “may your head be healthy.” Shared with people who have lost one of their relatives or friends, it is meant to offer condolences and wish wellbeing.

So, “Bu elim kazada sevdiklerini kaybeden tüm vatandaşlarımızın başı sağ olsun” or “May the heads of all our citizens who lost their close ones in this deplorable accident be healthy.”

So, may all of our heads be healthy today, but let us not forget.

Posted in Turkish Controversies, Turkish destinations, Visits from the Karagöz puppets | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Twitter banned briefly, again: Her kuşun eti yenmez

Image by Ebert at

Turks are truly mad for Twitter. According to the New Yorker’s review of data from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, “fourteen per cent of Turkey’s eighty million people use Twitter—a relatively high figure for a country where only forty-five per cent of the population uses the Internet.”

Well, lately, the Karagöz puppets have been assisting me in learning Turkish again – this time through the sharing of idioms.  I keep telling them that idioms are the last thing to be learned, that sentences should come first, but those puppets are really stubborn.

In any case, this week, Karagöz started cackling in earnest, telling me that the Turkish saying (below) might remind one of the famous microblogging service that was, once again, banned at the request of Tayyip himself.

Karagöz explains “This idiom is for when someone might think that due to their power or status they can make everyone do what they want but sooner or later they will have to find out that not everyone will bend to their will.”

“The phrase for this in Turkish is “Her kuşun eti yenmez.”

It literally translates as “Not every bird’s meat is edible.”

In a metaphorical sense it means “Not every bird is a game”

Here is an example: Herkesi kolayca kandırıp istediğini yaptıracağını sanmasın. Her kuşun etin yenmez öğrensin.

Last year, Turkey lifted its ban on Twitter – releasing it from the list of only two countries in the world to block Twitter entirely. (The other is China.)  Pundits suggest that recent moves on the part of the government may suggest future such bans … meanwhile, in response to the idiom, I am sure that the Twitter bird is NOT edible!

Other recent Twitter news from Hurriyet Daily News on 1/14/15:

Turkish authorities have warned that all websites publishing alleged records related to Syrian-bound trucks belonging to the Turkish intelligence agency that were stopped by a prosecutor last year will be blocked, presaging a possible new ban on Twitter and Facebook. The two largest social media networks, however, quickly complied and removed the content Jan. 14.

On Jan. 2, 2014, two Syria-bound trucks belonging to Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) were stopped by a prosecutor who sought to have the gendarmerie search the vehicles. The following month, a Turkish court issued a ban on the publication of news related to the incident.

A number of documents on the search were leaked online yesterday. The signed proceedings related to the search initially leaked through Twitter, allegedly show that arms belonging to MİT were found in the trucks. Speculation has been rife that the arms were destined for jihadists in Syria.

On Jan. 14, Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) recalled a March 2014 government decree that banned the coverage of the issue, referring to Law No. 6112.

According to an article in the law, Turkey’s prime minister or a cabinet minister has the authority to impose a gag order on the media “in cases obviously required by national security or when public order is very likely to be broken.”

Turkish officials, now equipped with the authority to block websites even without a court ruling, warned Jan. 14 that the gag order would be strictly imposed on the Internet. Several websites, including Facebook and Twitter, quickly withheld the sanctioned content on Jan. 14, dodging the possible Turkish ban.

“There are several court decisions against the websites that published the signed proceedings,” a Turkish official told daily Hürriyet, stressing that the “procedure is ongoing.”

Turkey blocked access to Twitter, hours after then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed to close down the social media platform on March 20, 2014.

YouTube was banned in Turkey on March 27, hours after a top-secret government meeting on Syria was leaked allegedly depicting government officials discussing a possible false-flag operation on Turkey in an effort to drag Turkey into Syria’s war.

The Constitutional Court unblocked Twitter on April 2, 2014, and YouTube on May 29, 2014, citing freedom of expression, but the rulings drew the ire of the government.


Posted in Visits from the Karagöz puppets | 3 Comments

Bread, salt and love: Happy Valentine’s Day from the Karagöz puppets (and Nazim Hikmet)


Ever the agent-provocateur, Karagöz kicks a “skunkentine” out of the way (Image by Liz Cameron)

Happy Valentine’s Day to all – the Karagöz puppets’ gift to you today is the sharing of a Nazim Hikmet poem which likens love to dipping bread into salt…relayed here in English and then in Turkish…


A close-up of Karagöz’s valentine, dubbed “the skunkentine” (Image by Liz Cameron)

I love you
like dipping bread into salt and eating
Like waking up at night with high fever
and drinking water, with the tap in my mouth
Like unwrapping the heavy box from the postman
with no clue what it is
fluttering, happy, doubtful
I love you
like flying over the sea in a plane for the first time
Like something moves inside me
when it gets dark softly in Istanbul
I love you
Like thanking God that we live.


Ooops! He’s got a real valentine under his hat, that Karagöz never stops surprising us! (Image by Liz Cameron)

Seviyorum seni
ekmeği tuza banıp yer gibi
Geceleyin ateşler içinde uyanarak
ağzımı dayayıp musluğa su içer gibi
Ağır posta paketini
neyin nesi belirsiz
telaşlı, sevinçli, kuşkulu açar gibi
Seviyorum seni
denizi ilk defa uçakla geçer gibi
İstanbul’da yumuşacık kararırken ortalık
içimde kımıldayan birşeyler gibi
Seviyorum seni
Yaşıyoruz çok şükür der gibi.


Khadijah and Celebi celebrate their love with a floating silver valentine (Image by Liz Cameron)





Posted in Turkish Art, Visits from the Karagöz puppets | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments