Gevrek, etc.

In Turkey, İzmir is famous for its peculiar use of words, among the most famous of which is “gevrek”. Personally, I’m with them on that, as “gevrek” is a good strong Turkic word, while “simit” is of Arabic extraction, and doesn’t even follow the rules Turks use for pronouncing Arabic words (if it did, it would be “semit”). Indeed, so famous is the use of “gevrek” that tourists will sometimes take photos of this “phenomenon”:


Another famous snack in Turkey which has a different name in İzmir is “çiğdem” for “çekirdek”. Rather than refer to maize as “mısır” (from the Arabic name for Egypt, which is also in use in Turkey to refer to Egypt itself, although obviously this use must be capitalised) they use the Turkic “darı”.

The video immediately mentions “asfalya” (which is from Greek “ασφάλεια” and was likely in use in the city due to its large historical Greek population, also, it is more vowel harmonic than “sigorta”), “bango” (easily connectable to the Italian “banco”, and thus likely a product of Venitian trade routes) and “boyoz” (a lovely local dish whose name derives from the Spanish “bollo”, Spanish having long been spoken in the city due to its Jewish population, a product of the Spanish expulsions), all of which are strong indicators of the Mediterranean leanings of the city’s culture.

The next words that it adds, however, have a different etymological relationship with the rest of Turkey. All of Turkey uses a varient on the Greek form of the word for “tomato” (the word itself is Nuhuatl, as tomatoes are not native to the Old World) by saying “domates”, but İzmirliler are notorious for dropping the “es”, which in fact was a normal part of loaning Greek words into Ottoman Turkish (which is how Hercules Millas is referred to by Turks as “Herkül”), and also allows the word to conform to vowel harmony. “Kumru” is a Turkified Arabic word (again with the vowel harmony!), while the rest of Turkey uses the English word. An attempt at pronouncing “Clorox” gives the local name for “bleach” (klorak), while the video asserts that the rest of the country uses an Öztürkçe term (çamaşır suyu).

So it would seem that İzmir prefers to use Mediterranean loanwords and Öztürkçe in general to Arabic words, and additionally (looking at domat vs. domates, kumru vs. sandviç and klorak vs. çamaşır suyu) favours brevity and vowel harmony more strongly than the rest of the country.

Personally, that was more thought than I like to put into İzmir and its silly local cultural (totally inferior in every respect to the wonderfully rich local cultures of real cities, such as Ankara, Adana or Trabzon), but it is vaguelly interesting from a historical perspective, as these words provide evidence for the Aegean’s “distinctive” culture having roots going back to Ottoman times.