November 21, 2011

The "one country, one language" myth

I dragged my mother to the first annual Vancouver Turkish Film Festival to see this documentary. On the way into the make-shift theatre, a man asked why we had chosen this particular movie.

The synopsis, I said, reminded me of Bahcesaray, a village in Eastern Turkey that I had visited for the sake of its name ("Garden Palace"). In this beautifully named village, I had learned a startling truth: Not all Turks speak Turkish, at least not as a first language.

The documentary reminds us of this truth. The pale-skinned, silver watch-wearing, Turkish-speaking teacher from the West is confronted with it when he arrives for his two-year posting at a primary school in the East. Many of his students only speak Kurdish. At once, his task shifts from teaching mathematics and social studies to teaching Turkish.

"He's a language teacher with no language training!" I whispered to my mother partway through.

The title is Iki Dil Bir Bavul ("Two Languages One Suitcase"), but the English title was given as On the Way to School.

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't ignore those elements that you posted above. Thanks a lot.


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