Learn Turkish With Bu Böyle By Sertab Erener

avatarMille Larsen
4 mins read

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.

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

O zor günler solan güller

Those hard days are in the past

Eskidendi geçti

It's over

O zaman aşık olduğum

That time I fell in love

Rüzgarlar esti esti geçti

The winds blew it away

Geriye sadece yarım yarım sevgiler

Left behind only half loves

Yüzüme inceden uzun uzun çizgiler

Long thin lines on my face

Öznesi kalan süresi kısalan cümleler

The subject remains but time grows short for these sentences

Yalan dolan birkaç resim kaldı

A few lying, deceitful pictures remain

Aşk seni bulabilir de

Love can find you too

Uzakta durabilir de

Stay away from it

Samimi oluyor derken

Just when you think it's sincere

Mesafe koyabilir de

Keep a distance from it

Bu böyle vurabilir de

As if it's pounding at you

İlgisiz durabilir de

Stay uninterested

Onu sana katıyor derken

Just when it give them you

Tuzaklar kurabilir de

It also lays traps

Bu böyle...

That's how it is...

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.