Language Barriers? Psha!

We are just beginning our second week of work here at Alalakh, and I have to say things are just getting more and more interesting!

I mentioned in the previous post that each trench gets 5 or 6 workmen from the surrounding villages of Tayfur Sokmen and Atchana.  During the day they just chatter away in both Turkish and Arabic, usually mixing the two languages in a single sentence.  I just tuned them out for the first few days, but recently we have all been making an effort to understand one another.  Whenever someone wants to communicate something, they usually use pantomime to get the idea across, and then the word or phrase is translated in to Turkish, Arabic, English, and sometimes Italian.  It’s very entertaining and I have been retaining at least some of the vocabulary.  Today I printed a basic translations packet for everyone in the trench so we can really get talking!

On another note, this morning, my trench supervisor Luca and I were lucky enough to get invited to one of our worker’s houses for breakfast.  Atchana is a very small town located on the Tell (hill) where the site is (see Sarah’s earlier post “Archaeology and the Community” for details).  It’s not too big, walking down the streets the only traffic we encountered was of a gaggle of geese and a chicken – yes, he was crossing the road!!

We had our breakfast in Abdullah’s 1-room house where he lives with his mother and 6 siblings.  The food was absolutely AMAZING, consisting of a large piece of tandoor bread, many different spiced vegetable dishes, and of course cay (tea).  Abdullah’s mother immediately covered my hair with a headscarf so I could be a proper Turkish lady, and insisted that I keep it when I left so that I could be cooler while we worked through the afternoon.  I was absolutely awed by her generosity, although the family doesn’t have much, accommodating a guest is a top priority.   I feel so lucky to be here!

Oh and Yahya, another of the workmen decided to nickname everyone in the trench.  I am Fatma Girik, blue-eyed Turkish actress, Luca is Kemal Sunal, Turkish actor, and Yahya dubbed himself Tatar Ramazan, which after a few google searches we have determined to be the Turkish equivalent of Rambo.  Oh, and Abdullah is Michael Jackson… too soon?

-Lexy Sinnott


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