29 November 2007

2217) Are Turks Mongolians, Barbarians And Uncivilized?

When I started using Internet so often and debating in some forums, one of lovely Armenian friends wrote me as follows: "we, Armenians, are using spoons and forks while you, Turks were swinging one tree to another like monkeys in the central Asia, you are f***ing Mongols". This guy could not know some . .
history, but he does not know ecology either. The central Asia is covered with wide steps and deserts. There are not trees to swing one to another and is not a natural habitat for monkeys. People should be educated on natural resources and biodiversity.

It is true that Turks came to these lands more than 1000 years ago. Because of the draught, lack of natural resources and Chinese pressure in Central Asia Turks started moving to the west and pushing tribes. As a result of this immigration many tribes also left Caucasia and went to Europe and we can say that Europe was shaped ethnically because of the immigration of these tribes.

Turks speak an Ural-Altaic language which is a close neighbor of Finnish, Estonian, Hungarian, Mongolian, Korean and Japanese however Turks understand none of these languages. There is gender neutrality and agglutinated structure in Turkish language. It is enough to add suffixes at the end of the root word to produce new words. There are some other approaches that Uralic and Altaic languages are not related to each other. Many linguists still discuss this issue.

In 1071 a battle between East Roman Empire and Seljuk Turks had happened in eastern Turkey and Roman army was defeated, the emperor Romen Diogenes was captived by Turks. After this victory, Oguz tribes of Turks started to move into different parts of Anatolia. In Manzikert/Malazgirt war many of the Armenians had supported Alp Arslan and his army. East Roman Empire had been very harsh to Armenians, and so they viewed the more tolerant Turks as saviors. As many anti-Turks claim, Turks did not absorb or slaved the existing tribes. Turks just mixed up with them. Turks influenced and were influenced. If not, how would a Turk fish as long as he did not learn it from a Greek? We mixed up with mainly Greeks and Armenians on these lands. We Turks do not call Anatolian and Cypriot Greeks as Greeks, we use a word called "Rum" which comes from "Roman". We use the word "yunan" coming from "ionian" for the mainland Greeks while all Greeks call themselves as "Ellin" which is the name of the empire established by the son of Macedonian king Philip the IInd. Let's see how many times Anatolia was invaded and by whom. Hittites, Helens, Persians, Romans, Arabs, Turks, Crusaders, Mongolians, Ottomans, etc. So on a country like that is it possible to stay Arian or pure? I do not think so. You can see the traces of that mixture in our music, culture, language, cuisine, etc. Today we even use Roman words in our language. For instance the word "angarya" (extra job or duty which you do not want to do) comes from the "angarion system" of Roman troops. When Rome was richer, army used to pay local people to carry army stuff with their donkeys, horses and mules so that army had the stuff carried. But when Rome started to get weaker, army obliged everybody carry the stuff for free and it became an extra job for local people when army comes their region for fight. Roman used to call this system as Angarion and it is now "angarya" in our language. Just like the suffix "stan" that we add at the end of the nations to mean the country they live on. Bulgaristan (Bulgaria), Ermenistan (Armenia), Yunanistan (Greece), etc. "Stan" means "place or land" in Roman language and it actually comes from the Iranians. But many other cultures use it to from their influences, including Turks and Armenians. The music we call as "Turkish Art Music" originates from Byzantum music (actually there is nothing called Byzantum, it is an invention of western historians to pump Greek nationalism in 18th and 19th century).

I can give thousands of examples as a result of this mixture of nations in Anatolia. You can also understand that we are so mixed up by looking at our physical appearances. There is not a single Turkish type. You can find dark skinned, light skinned, brunette, blonde, dark-haired, red-haired, green, blue, hazel, black, brown, asian eyes (like my mother has), short, tall, skinny, etc. It seems that Turks are not Mongolians, more likely a hybrid of tribes live on Anatolian lands.

The term "barbarian" comes from the Greek word "varvaros". In Greek "v" is pronounced as "b". You can pronounce it as "barbaros". Greek phrase "Pas mi Ellin varvaros" says "you are barbarian as long as you are not Greek". In ancient times Greeks were similar to Americans of nowadays. They did not speak any language rather than Greek. When Dorians came from north and started to invade Greece, they realized that there are people who speak different languages and called their language "speaking as var var var (bar bar bar)". Even in Turkish we say "bar bar bar ne konuşuyorsun, anlamıyorum dediğini (why are you talking bar bar bar, I do not understand what you say)". Speaking as bar bar bar became the name of the people who do not speak Greek. Ironically today's Greeks are the hybrids of ancient Greeks and Dorians. Modern Greek is also a hybrid language of Dorian and ancient Greek language. So it is enough not to speak Greek, to be a barbarian so that we can consider Turks as barbarians as tens of other nations who do not speak Greek.

Civilization issue? What shapes feature of people is the nature they live in and the conditions they have. Why do you think that science and philosophy developed in ancient Greece while there haven't been any philosophers and scientists from the city of Kars, where I live in now with an elevation of 1750 meters neighboring to Armenia? They developed science and philosophy just because they were Greeks? Or nobody could develop science and philosophy in Kars just because they were Turks, Armenians and Azeris?

If you have been to Aegean part of Turkey, you could answer this question easily. It is a surrounding and natural condition issue. Even if I go to Aegean, I would like to write poems when I feel the breeze of imbat (a breeze type which blows at evenings from the sea) on my face at summer evenings or see the sunset on the sea. You need not chase animals to hunt or grow livestock. You can eat tens of different fruits when you are hungry. Figs, grapes, apples, pears, water melon, pomegranates, apricots, peaches, etc. There is a very warm climate throughout the year and you need not spend your whole time by collecting wood to burn in the oven. You want to eat meat, and then hunt a wild goat. You can be very healthy by eating your food with olive oil all the time. Even you can sell this expensive good to others and get richer. So what else you could do more? You are full, you feel warm, you have money, you have Aphrodites to sleep with, of course you are gonna develop science and philosophy.

Let's come to Kars case. Here in Kars what you need to do is warming your ass up; otherwise you get frozen where there is snow 7-8 months a year. You have to collect wood, fix your roof for winter conditions, and store your food for winter while there are no fruits and wild goats around. You can spend all of your time by collecting wood and food. You can keep your ass warm by sleeping with your wife, but you starved to death this time.

Other questions come to my mind? Why are Turks good warriors and farmers while Armenians are good at architecture, crafts and commerce?

Turks have been nomadic for centuries and move one place to another to find better meadows to graze their livestock. They also had to protect their livestock, their families and their people. They learnt how to ride horses and how to fight where there is no security units provided by the government. However Turks settle for a few centuries, I still see it in our genes. In my hometown Mersin people usually have three houses. Regular house in the downtown, yazlik (summer house on the coast) and yayla evi (highland house on the mountains). Mersin people move between those three houses throughout the year. They do not have livestock to feed anymore, but just for fun and traditionally they use those houses and for me it is still being nomadic.

Armenians are a resident nation for centuries and they learnt how to build strong and good-looking houses while Turks did not need a house. Why should they build a house? They would be leaving anyway. There were already Turks who are farming and growing cattle. Armenians buy and sell what Turks produce and they sell what Turks can not produce. Craft producing and commerce became a part of Armenian culture in Anatolia.

Even in this group I see the symptoms of those features processed in our genes. Lynn is from Black Sea part of Turkey and shows the symptoms of being a Black sea person. She is stubborn, fighter, never gives up; there is nothing to come over for her. To understand why she is like this, you have to see north-eastern Black Sea region of Turkey where I can summarize with one word "steep". From sea level to the peak of Kackar (3937 m) it is only 39 kilometers. The elevation difference between the highest neighborhood and the lowest neighborhood of Artvin city is 700 meters in 5 kilometers. There were times even I could not find two square meter flat ground to set up my tent. Black sea people have to fight against this steep, untouched and violent nature to survive. They have to make 2-3 meter squares flat ground to grow something. They have to fight against calamities, evalanges, snow slides and fog. Otherwise they can not survive. They have to grow tea and hazel nut and carry those heavy baskets for hundreds of meters on their backs to reach the closest road where it is almost 65-70 degrees steep. What makes Lynn's character is this harsh nature of Black Sea. Extremely hard natural conditions.

Or why am I so easy-going, funny, relax, lazy and sometimes harum scarum? Because I am Mediterranean and coming from a hot and humid climate. My nature gives more of things that I need. I do not have to collect wood or food. They are already there. I can be lazy and I spent my childhood stealing oranges, tangerines and bananas from the yard neighboring to my school.

Or why is Sinan so political and a good debater? Because he has some origins from Balkans where the people invented the word "politics" :-)

I have a theory about why Armenians are so obsessed, wearing horse glasses and straight-minded. Only under Tigran the Great, Armenians had a coast. Also in the Armenian Kingdom in Cilicia, they had a coast. That lasted for only about 2 centuries. But overall Armenians are a river and mountain people. Wherever we look at in the world, inland people are more conservative, more straight-minded and hard to be changed as it is in our Konya, Yozgat, Kayseri, Erzurum provinces. Those people are more conservative and not very open for changing with respect to coastland people like in Mersin, Antalya, Izmir. Changing always comes from the sea. History says so. That is the easiest way for one civilization influencing another civilization. Because of not having any coasts, maybe Armenians are not influenced so much and did not change. That is my theory.

Being Turkish is good sometimes because I used to find my mother and her friends chatting in our living room which is an event they call "gün (day)" when I came back from school. To these meetings Fatma teyze who is a Kurdish from Diyarbakir and whose husband is a school teacher in my town used to bring Kürt köftesi (Kurdish meatball), Safiye teyze, whose grandparents immigrated from Bosnia to Edirne in Balkan wars, used to bring Boşnak böreği (Bosnian burek), Safinaz teyze, who is an Arabic whose parents came from Lazkiye part of Lebanon to Mersin, used to bring rezil malamat (no translation for this incredible delicious food) and Gupse teyze who is a Circassian and whose grandparents immigrated to Turkey from Caucasia in late 1800s, of course used to bring Circassian chicken. I did not speak to them so long instead of saying "hi" and used to give my way directly to the kitchen when I saw that richness in the living room :-)

A philosopher from Kars whose ass is frozen

by Önder CIRIK



By the way a correction and an additon to my theory by a fellow Armenian friend:

Under Tigran the Great, Armenians had a coast. Also in the Armenian Kingdom in Cilicia, they had a coast. That lasted for only about 2 centuries. But overall, you're right. Armenians are a river and mountain people.

There are a few more additions and corrections by him:

The racial term "Caucasian" does not come from what you described. It originates with Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, who wrote that skulls from Caucasia, particular Georgian skulls which he had a fascination with, represented the perfect samples of the "white race". These racial theories are all bullshit of course, but that is where that term was popularized.

(I should check the Irish resources that I read)

The "Ural-Altaic" theory is not very accepted. We have Uralic group of languages and Altaic group of languages, but connecting them is a stretch that not a lot of linguists accept. The connections that they base them on are found among other unrelated languages as well. For example, Armenian also has always had gender neutrality. Of course Armenian has had a lot of influence from Turkish. That is why modern Armenian dialects are so different from Classical Armenian. Gender neutrality exists in classical Armenian as well. And as I'm sure you know, large amounts of Armenian vocabulary are influenced from Turkish. But I don't know if you know that there are influences of Armenian into Turkish too. For example the word "hac" (hach). In Armenian that means "cross" and for Turkish it has come to mean the Christian cross.

Something interesting I learned from my studies in college about Manzikert/Malazgert is that many of the Armenians had supported Alp Arslan and his army. Byzantium had been very harsh to Armenians, and so they viewed the more tolerant Turks as saviors.

Turks call the Anatolian Greeks as "Rum" because that is what they called themselves. There was no such thing as "Byzantine". The Greeks of Byzantium considered themselves as "Romans" until the very day. The Arabs called them Rum, as did the Turks when they arrived later. Erzurum infact is supposed to mean "The frontier of the Rum."
(I knew that Byzantine is an artificial word created by western historians in the 19th century to pump Greek nationalism)

The "stan" suffix actually comes from the Iranians. But many other cultures use it to from their influences, including Turks and Armenians.