Nobody's Perfect

Hatasız Kul Olmaz VHS (Source: gittigidiyor)
Lesson 11 | Imperative

During the last two lessons of Unit 1, we will focus on the simple imperative for the 2nd person singular pronoun "sen (you)". This is the simplest verb form in Turkish, and one of the most frequently used forms in song. We've already encountered it quite a few times in previous lessons, but in order to really emphasize the imperative, we will move to a genre that makes extensive use of it: arabesk.

The artist in this lesson is one of the original pioneering figures of arabesk music, a style that rose to prominence in Turkey during the 1970s. Arabesk or "arabesque" as we may understand it in English, is not quite pop music, not quite folk, and too gritty to be sanat music like the examples we've heard so far. It is called arabesk for its "Arabic" elements, using musical styles common to southeastern Turkey. Though such a music offended the aesthetic sensibilities of some audiences in Turkey, it had mass appeal and quickly developed into not only a huge musical genre but a genre of film as well. All of this is a reflection of the socioeconomic composition of both arabesk musicians and audiences, something I will discuss a little more in the next lesson.

This lesson's performer, Orhan Gencebay, may not have been the typical arabesk performer. He hails from Samsun (Black Sea region), and before embarking on a career in arabesk, he had flirted with jazz and rock music, enrolling in Istanbul's musical conservatory. Eventually, however, he returned to the first instrument he ever learned -- the bağlama -- and before long found himself an arabesk sensation. 

"Hatasız Kul Olmaz", first recorded in 1974, not only reflects arabesk musical style but also its emotional sensibilities. If you found some of the expressions of love in previous songs to be intense, this one is much more so. Dramatic statements of devotion, desperation, pleading, incessant questioning, and pathologization of romantic feeling are some of the common features of arabesk lyrics. They represent some of the practices that comprise a certain kind of masculinity embodied by the arabesk ethos. Without imposing too rigid of an interpretation of this ethos, I will simply say that through more songs you will get a better sense of it.

In this song, Orhan Gencebay calls to the one he loves, pleading "love me". This love is such that he has no strength and can barely get himself together. This was a theme in our last song as well, however, you will notice that unlike the guys in Çamur, Orhan Gencebay is not ready to give up.

His expression takes the form of several commands using the simple imperative tense. To form an imperative verb, all you need to do is take the infinitive (i.e. sevmek, bilmek, duymak) and remove the -mak ending. Thus, "bakmak (to look)" becomes "bak! (look!)". Here is a table reflecting imperative verbs found in this song.

sevmek (to love)sev
duymak (to hear)duy
bulmak (to find)bul
almak (to take)al
görmek (to see)gör
gelmek (to come)gel

One other point that I would like to highlight here is the -siz ending, which turns a noun into an adjective reflecting the absence of that noun. For example, the word "hata" means "flaw", "mistake", or "fault". Orhan says "hatasız kul olmaz" meaning it is impossible (olmaz) for there to be a person without fault (hatasız) or "flawless". Likewise, he says "dermansız dert olmaz". "Derman" here means "cure", and so "dermansız" means "incurable" or "without cure".

Note that while this is a common way of making adjectives that in English would begin with "un-" or end in "-less", it also has other functions that will become apparent in later lessons. We've already seen it used in the sense of "sensiz" or "without you". Look out for this ending in future lessons to see how it can be employed.


olmaz - impossible
kaybetmek - to lose
yorulmak - to get tired, to tire
duymak - to hear
duy beni - hear me (imperative)
bulmak - to find
bul - find (imperative)
sevmek - to love
sev - love (imperative)

hata - fault, flaw, mistake, imperfection
hatasız - flawless
ümit - hope
ümitsiz - hopeless

kul - slave, servant, person (literally servant of God)
dert - pain, trouble, woe, worry
feryat - a cry (usually for help)
hasret - longing, missing
razı - content, satisfied
uzak - far
uzaktan - from afar

ne olur - please (somewhat desperate), I beg you

Orhan Gencebay - Hatasız Kul Olmaz

Hatasız kul olmaz
There's no such thing as a flawless human being
Hatamla sev beni
Love me with my flaws
Here, the word "kul" is understood as "human being", but it's real meaning is "slave" or "servant". This is because people are "servants of God".
Dermansız dert olmaz
There can't be an incurable pain
Dermana sal beni
Let me at the cure
In our last lesson, "derman" mean "strength" or "energy", but here is means "cure". He is saying that his beloved is the cure for his pain.
Kaybettim kendimi, ne olur bul beni
I've lost myself, please, find me
Yoruldum halim yok, sen gel de al beni.
I'm tired, I have no energy, you come and get me
The word "yoruldum" or "I'm tired" here is a past tense conjugation of the verb "yorulmak", meaning "to tire" or "to get tired".
Feryada gücüm yok, feryatsız duy beni
I have no strength to cry for help, hear me without a cry
"Feryat" is a "cry", but generally understood as a cry for help.
Sevenlerin aşkına, ne olur sev beni / Sev beni...
For the sake of those who love, please, love me, love me!
Don't be thrown off by the use of "aşk" in this sentence. "(birşey)in aşkına" is understood as "for the sake of (something)". Strangely enough the phrase "allah aşkına" in Turkish can be very directly translated into English as "for the love of God" or "for God's sake".
Bu feryat, bu hasret, öldürür aşk beni
This cry for help, this longing, love is killing me
Uzaktan olsa da, razıyım sev beni
Even if from a distance, I'm content, just love me
Razıyım sev beni...
I'm content, just love me
Ümitsiz yaşanmaz, sevmemek elde mi?
One cannot live without hope, is it possible not to love?
Can demek sen demek, gel de gör bende mi?
Saying soul means you, come and see if it's with me
Sözümde sitem var, kalpte mi dilde mi?
There is reproach in my words, is it in the heart or on the tongue?
Tez elden haber ver, o gönlün elde mi?
Let me know right away, does your heart belong to someone else
Those last four lines were a little trick so do not worry if you can't get the grammar.
Feryada gücüm yok, feryatsız duy beni
Sevenlerin aşkına, ne olur sev beni
In the next lesson, we deal further with the imperative, this time introducing its negative form as we continue an exploration of the arabesk genre. First review the vocabulary list below to make sure you've got everything down.

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