Learn Turkish With Bu Böyle By Sertab Erener

Today I'll be continuing my investigation of the Turkish language with a look at the song Bu Böyle by Sertab Erener. I found this song by clicking the related videos links along the side of a Turkish video on YouTube. Tools like that are a great way to find new things.

Error: VideoService could not be found

Okay, we'll start with the lyrics, which I found explained here. I cleaned up the translation slightly.

O zor günler solan güller
Eskidendi geçti
O zaman aşık olduğum
Rüzgarlar esti esti geçtiGeriye sadece yarım yarım sevgiler
Yüzüme inceden uzun uzun çizgiler
Öznesi kalan süresi kısalan cümleler
Yalan dolan birkaç resim kaldıAşk seni bulabilir de
Uzakta durabilir de
Samimi oluyor derken
Mesafe koyabilir de
Bu böyle vurabilir de
İlgisiz durabilir de
Onu sana katıyor derken
Tuzaklar kurabilir de
Bu böyle...

Okay, the first thing I notice right away is the repetition: esti esti, yarım yarım, uzun uzun. I've noticed this elsewhere, but with so much of it here, it's hard to ignore. I'm going to presume this is some sort of augmentative construct, similar to Italian (piano piano), where esti esti means blew and blew, and uzun uzun means really long, etc.

Since we're talking about the word esti, the next thing I notice is the -ti ending. It's also there on geçti. This is slightly different from the -di ending we saw used on the status updates on Yonja. My hunch is that this is just a spelling rule, as following ç or s with the letter d would seem a bit awkward, and the Turkish language seems designed to never be awkward. (Vowel harmony, etc.)

The title, which is the last line of the chorus, is bu böyle, which seems like an important pair of words. The word bu is an indicative word meaning this, and I've seen it used before, a lot, but most memorably in the phrase bu gece, which means this night, or more concisely, tonight.

And böyle is also a word I've seen before. In fact, I just recently learned it while watching the film Yol. I heard the man say to the boy esti böyle, and the caption said like that. The word böyle means so, or thus. Together, the phrase bu böyle means that's how it is.


While looking through these lyrics, this line in particular stood out to me: yüzüme inceden uzun uzun çizgiler. Particularly, that word yüzüme. Sesli Sözlük says it means to my face.

Sesli Sözlük says yüz means face. And as we learned first-person possessive earlier this week, we know that yüzüm means my face. So this gives me reason to believe that adding the -e on the end has some sort of a dative function. That is, it adds a "to" meaning. And I think we can assume that -e travels in pairs with -a, based on the -lar/-ler pair.

So here's how we test this. The word arkadaşım means my friend, but typing arkadaşıma into Google still only gives us my friend. This is likely because of the algorithms being used to generate English grammar. (We say "I give my friend an apple", not "to my friend".)

However, adding bir (the indefinite article) gives us what we want! bir arkadaşıma translates as to my friend. That validates the -a, but we should try one with a -e as well. Unfortunately, I'm got getting lucky with other words I try, but again, I think this may be a limitation of Google Translate's algorithms.

My solution is to try it in reverse... and surprise, surprise, it works. To the house gives us eve, and to this man gives us bu adama, and I'm going to the office gives us ben ofise gidiyorum.

Pretty cool.

Want to see my favorite language resources and courses?
I listed them here.

Author: Yearlyglot
I'll lead you through a 12 month journey from knowing absolutely nothing about a language to having professional fluency.

Leave a comment:

Comment Policy: Comments and feedback are totes welcome but respect is mandatory. Disagree all you want but be nice. All comments and links are moderated.
  • Randy Yearlyglot

    I don't want to try to steer you in any direction other than what you're doing (formidable, BTW!), but take a look at the verbs with "abil(ir)" or "ebil(ir)" (no 'ebil" examples in this song) in them.It's a very useful form to learn, at least for me. Maybe you're already familiar with the form - not sure, but I wanted to mention it.

  • Randy Yearlyglot

    No, haven't noticed that yet.  What makes it so useful? 

  • Randy Yearlyglot

     It turns a verb into an ability (a little mnemonic help, I suppose :-)), to be able to do whatever the verb is. "Love can also find you" (bulmak). Durmak, vurmak, koymak, kurmak also have that same ability. The same would apply to "-mek" verbs, you get the idea.Anyway, I found it really useful, and it's something that I haven't found in any conjugation dictionary online. I've seen it in some online grammars though.

Want to learn a language in 12 months?

Language you're learning...