I Too Have a Heart

Ottoman diagram of human body
Lesson 6 | var

In our last lesson, we learned about traces of past love that linger in our ears, eyes, and lips. Now we leave the past behind for a bit to return to the heart and utilize our knowledge from past lessons and learn about the marvelous act of "having".

Zeki Müren 45 cover
Whereas most Indo-European verbs most commonly use a verb to connote the concept of "to have," this is not a linguistic universal. For example, Arabic uses prepositions to complete the same function. Turkish on the other hand uses a word that is a verb yet not quite a verb that means "it exists." So in order to say you "have a heart" for example, you have to say "my heart exists". It is less complicated than it sounds.

The singer featured in this lesson, however, is exactly as complicated as he sounds. Zeki Müren was for decades one of the most important figures in Turkish culture, and as his career went on, he also became one of the most eccentric. His genre was sanat music, and he is widely regarded as having the most precise articulation of any singer of the time. Beyond his iconic recordings and performances, Zeki Müren is also famous for having incrementally inched towards wearing flamboyant costumes that flouted gender norms during a period in which rugged masculinity was increasingly the norm in film and television (click here for an article by Martin Stokes). This, however, is one of his earlier recordings from the late 1960s.

We'll be dealing lots more with Zeki Müren in subsequent lessons. For now, our focus will be the use of the word "var" in this song to convey the meaning of "to have" and the word "değil" meaning "not".

One of the lines in the chorus is "benim de kalbim var", meaning "I too have a heart." The word "var" corresponds to the word "kalp" meaning "heart." In order to show that it is Zeki's heart, we have the words "benim kalbim (my heart)". The word "benim" here is basically optional. What is critical, however, is that "kalbim var", which breaks down to "my heart exists", means "I have a heart". He also says "benim canım var" or "I have a soul". Here is a derivation of those sentences for all the pronouns in Turkish:

Benimkalbim varcanım var
Seninkalbin varcanın var
Onunkalbi varcanı var
Bizimkalbimiz varcanımız var
Sizinkalbiniz varcanınız var
Onlarınkalpleri varcanları var

This might appear a little bit confusing alongside the sentence "ben de insanım" or "I am a person too." "İnsanım" carries an ending that appears to be the same as the -im in "kalbim" but that is coincidental. It is in fact a conjucation of the verb to be or "olmak" in the simple present for the first person. Thus:

insanım - I am a person
insansın - You are a person
insan(dir) - He/she is a person
insanız - We are people
insansınız - You (pl.) are people
onlar insan - They are people

This brings us to the last grammar point of the lesson, which is the word "değil" meaning "is not". Here Zeki's love is not a game: kumar değildir. We know from Lesson X that the -dir gives a sense of definiteness and is optional. "Değil" can be conjugated for other pronouns just as the "insan" example above:

değilim | değilsin | değil(dir) | değiliz | değilsiniz | değiller

So, if we want to conjugate "insan olmak (to be a person)" in both the positive and negative, this is what it looks like:

Beninsanıminsan değilim
Seninsansıninsan değilsin
Oinsan(dır)insan değil(dir)
Bizinsanızinsan değiliz
Sizinsansınızinsan değilsiniz
Onlarinsanlar(dır)insan değiller(dir)


Practice this vocabulary list using Quizlet

var - to exist, to be there, to have
canım var - I have a soul
benim kalbim - my heart
insanım - I am a person
oynamak - to play, to dance
değil - is not
demek - to say, to mean
gelmek - to come

can - soul, life
kalp - heart
insan - person, human
kumar - gambling
acı - pain, bitterness
bedbaht - unfortunate

belki - perhaps
amma - however, but

Zeki Müren - Aşkımla oynama kumar değildir

Click the image above to play the song
Aşkımla oynama kumar değildir
Don't play with my love, it is not a game (literally gambling)
Seviyorum demek hüner değildir
Saying "I love you" is not a talent
Benim de canım var, ben de insanım
I too have a soul, I too am a person
Benim de kalbim var, ben de insanım
I too have a heart, I too am a person
Belki mutlu değil, bedbahtım amma
Maybe I'm not glad, I might be unfortunate but
Gel sen acı bari, düşürme gama
Have some mercy for once, don't drop me into sorrow
Benim de canım var, ben de insanım
Benim de kalbim var, ben de insanım

Congratulations, we're half way done with Unit 1. Why not quiz yourself on Lessons 1-6 before moving onto Lesson 7: As If?

1 comment:

  1. "Come, o pain, for once" that part is translated wrong. Should be "You pity/have mercy at least"