As much as I love Harry Potter, the books did leave me with one nagging concern. Why doesn't anybody use the Internet? Have I vastly overestimated the state of modern technology in England? Is this why my British friends haven't been answering my emails? More likely, I guess, is that a world full of computer-savvy Muggles would throw a monkeywrench into the whole business of magical communication- you can't have Dudley Skyping with his Smeltings friends while Harry stares out the window, sighing heavily and trying to recall how many days it's been since he sent his owl out with a letter for Ron. But really, who sends proper mail these days? I can't remember the last time I bought stamps.
The point is that much like modern teenagers (in the real world), wizarding families are woefully unfamiliar with the workings of the postal system. As demonstrated by Mrs Weasley's attempt to send a letter through the Muggle mail in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, my current Turkish reading:
Zarfın her santimi pulla kaplıydı, Mrs Weasley'nin Dursley'lerin adresini karınca duası gibi bir yazıyla sıkıştırdığı, ön taraftaki 1,5 santimetrekare hariç.
Every centimeter of the envelope was covered in stamps, except for 1.5 square centimeters on the front where Mrs Weasley had squeezed in the Dursley's address in writing like the ant prayer.
like the ant prayer
The dictionary told me that this, karınca duası gibi, means "small or cramped handwriting." Well, okay. Figuring there had to be more to the story, I put my Detective/Language Nerd Hat on and went in search of my colleagues.
"Ahhh, the ant prayer," I was told, after managing to ambush Ahmet in the kitchen. "It's a prayer in Islam for luck with money."
"Yes. Like prosperity. The real name is bereket duası, the abundance prayer. I think we Turks are the only ones who call it the ant prayer, because ants work very hard and cooperate to have enough to eat, you see?"
I didn't, really. "Okay, abundance prayer, but what does that have to do with tiny handwriting? Is it because ants are small or something?"
Ahmet laughed at me (this happens a lot). "No no no! People hang up this prayer on signs in their shops or offices for good luck with business. I think we have one here, in this building. They put it in very little letters so it will fit. That's why when you write something very close together, it is like the ant prayer."
Ohhh. I love idioms, and I'm going to make up excuses to use this one as much as possible. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
...or as the Turks would say,
Ya bu deveyi güdersin, ya bu diyardan gidersin. (Either steer this camel or get out of the country).
Labels: idioms, languages, Turkey, Turkish