How Do You Know That Word?

I got a haircut. And since I am vain enough to write a blog already I decided to write about it. Actually no that is not why but it was a great cultural experience for me and I highly recommend getting a haircut there if you are spending time in another culture.

Now I will warn you that Turkish barbers tend to be more opinionated so you probably are going to get whatever they think looks good. Fortunately for me Mehmet did a great job with my hair I will certainly go back and let him do this to my head again sometime.

But what was so interesting from the language point of view was the English he knew. We spoke mostly in Turkish (as I realized very quickly I did not really know how to make requests about my hair other than: not too short, I still want a beard) But as is usual he used something of the English he knew with me. At one point before he began cutting he told me I looked like I was from Ohio. I asked why. He said he could not think of the word but he would think of it eventually.

After a minute or so he put down the beard trimmer he snapped his fingers and said, “Amish! Your beard looks Amish!” We both laughed as he cut my hair. But I found myself wondering how he knew what that word meant. And after discussing the Amish it seemed like he basically understood what they were like as well as I did.

One of the fun mysteries to language learning is this. We are all individuals and we all learn language differently and learn different parts at different times. Communication is as unique as we all are. And sometimes people will wonder how we learned what we learned when they talk to us.

But I will always wonder where Mehmet the barber learned about the Amish (thanks again for the hair cut).

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