Çapuling

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(Apologies for being slow in taking account of this important neologism.) Connor Adams Sheets, "What Is Capuling? 'Everyday I'm Çapuling' Turkish Protest Video Goes Viral", International Business Times 6/4/2013:

"Everyday I'm Çapuling!" is quickly becoming a rallying cry of sorts for the so-called "Turkish Spring" protests that have swept across Turkey since police violently broke up a protest camp in Istanbul's Taksim Square on Friday [May 31] with water cannons, tear gas and brutal violence.



Luke Harding, "Turkish protesters embrace Erdoğan insult and start 'capuling' craze", The Guardian, 6/10/2013:

When demonstrators first took to the streets to protest against the Turkish prime minister he branded them çapulcu, or looters. The word also means marauders or bums. But Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's attempt to demean his opponents has backfired. Protesters in Istanbul and other cities have embraced the word as their own, labelling themselves proud çapulcu and even coining an English verb, capuling.

Pronounced chapulling, with the emphasis on the second syllable, it has become synonymous with the alternative, youth-driven anti-Erdoğan movement. Students sleeping under the plane trees in Gezi Park, Istanbul, have dubbed their makeshift camp Capulistan, with many mounting cardboard signs next to their dwellings that read "Capul residence". Meanwhile, the city's must-have fashion accessory is a white T-shirt with the slogan: "Every day I'm capuling".

There's a Wikipedia article about the English neologism under the spelling "Chapulling". As noted in the article, and by Ben Zimmer in the comments, the original of the sound track is the "Every day I'm shuffling" segment of Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO.

One online dictionary glosses çapulcu as "looter, sacker, pillager, plunderer", with this pronunciation:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Another one gives the gloss "raider, depredator, freebooter, looter, marauder, plunderer, swag man", and offers the verb çapulculuk etmek meaning "maraud".

From another, we can learn that çapul means "booty, loot, plunder, the sack",  while çapulculuk means "plunder, looting, sacking, pillaging, rapine".

Google Translate renders çapulcu as "marauder", with this synthetic pronunciation given:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Both in the pronunciations of the Turkish word, and in the English neologism as chanted in the video, it seems to me that the stress is on the first syllable, not on the second syllable as stated in the Guardian article. [As language hat observes in the comments, Turkish word accent is generally final, though this is consistent with some prosodic demarcation of initial syllables as well; in any case, I don't hear any evidence for the idea that stress is on the second syllable in the Turkish/English hybrid çapuling.]

Meanwhile,  çapuling continues in Istanbul, Ankara, Trabzon, and elsewhere in Turkey.

In looking for other relevant dictionary entries, I found an online site for the Cambridge English-Turkish Learner's Dictionary,  which offer an interestingly optimistic word cloud under the heading "Favorite Entries", presumably reflecting the things that most users have asked about most recently:

Here's hoping that this is an omen for the outcome of current events in Turkey. A more contentful note of optimism can be found in Soli Özel, "The protests in Turkey won’t be the last", WaPo 6/15/2013, or Louis Fishman, "The Gezi Park protests, the Middle East and the secular-religious divide", Zaman 6/16/2013.



14 Comments

  1. languagehat said,

    June 16, 2013 @ 9:31 am

    Both in the pronunciations of the Turkish word, and in the English neologism as chanted in the video, it seems to me that the stress is on the first syllable, not on the second syllable as stated in the Guardian article.

    Stress in Turkish words other than proper nouns is, with certain exceptions noted in good dictionaries, on the final syllable, as it is here. But precisely because stress is predictable, it is often masked by the way a word is said. Similarly, Czech words are always stressed on the initial syllable, but to foreigners it often sounds otherwise.

  2. Steve Bryant said,

    June 16, 2013 @ 9:33 am

    All this is true but misses one of the more interesting and disturbing aspects of this word's recent charge to fame: the actions of the Turk Dil Kurumu (Turkish Language Institute).

    The TDK's online definition of the word now reads: "One whose actions upset public order"

    My 2005 TDK Turkish dictionary has a definition similar to those above: looter, taker of other's property.

    The suspicion is that the foremost recorder of the state of the Turkish language has bowed to political pressure to change a definition. The prime minister cited the new definition at a rally in Sincan, Ankara this weekend.

  3. Rob said,

    June 16, 2013 @ 9:40 am

    The LMFAO song and video "Every Day I'm Shufflin" seems relevant here as an origin for the appropriated slogan. I tried to embed the link, but it didn't post in the comments, so just search YouTube for it.

  4. Ben Zimmer said,

    June 16, 2013 @ 9:41 am

    The song with the line "Every day I'm shufflin'" is actually called "Party Rock Anthem." Here's the video (the line is first heard at 3:40):

    (The LFMAO song was in turn riffing off the 2006 Rick Ross song "Hustlin'.")

  5. Rob said,

    June 16, 2013 @ 9:52 am

    Thanks for the correction, Ben. And it is on the Wikipedia page.

  6. Vicki said,

    June 16, 2013 @ 10:54 am

    I may be missing something about Turkish culture, but from here in the U.S., "looters, marauders, bums" seems like a more effective slur on organized demonstrators than "upsetters of public order."

    The latter reminds me of the catch-all Soviet charge of "hooliganism" against dissidents and others who had done something unspecific or not otherwise illegal that the government disliked.

  7. Erika H Gilson said,

    June 16, 2013 @ 1:12 pm

    On 'Party Rock Anthem' – how about this version that is circulating among some of the population:
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=543580059033772&set=vb.174576855926340&type=2&theater

    If you do not recognize some of the faces, ask?

  8. Levantine said,

    June 16, 2013 @ 5:11 pm

    Vicki, I think the point about the new definition is that it is not quite as untenable as the old one in terms of its applicability to the protesters. No-one could seriously accuse the protesters of looting or marauding, but one might charge them with public disorder (if one had a skewed perspective). So although the new definition appears, on the face of it, not as insulting, it is a less far-fetched — and thus more effective — way of condemning the protesters.

    In case it hasn't come across in what I've already written, I am firmly on the protesters' side. And anyone wanting authoritative and impartial definitions of Turkish words should consult the venerable Redhouse Dictionary, not the drivel produced by the Turkish Language Institute.

  9. Nick Lamb said,

    June 17, 2013 @ 7:23 am

    Mark, the turkishdictionary.net link contains a typographical error (missing colon) which makes it non-functional

  10. Mike C said,

    June 18, 2013 @ 12:42 am

    Definitely brings to mind Rick Ross "Everyday I'm hustlin'" for me, but maybe LMFAO has a greater presence in Turkey than Rick.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5betFZRICVg

  11. Robert Furber said,

    June 18, 2013 @ 7:34 am

    LMFAO were consciously snowcloning Hustlin' by "Rick Ross".

  12. eyagli said,

    June 19, 2013 @ 7:45 am

    A dictionary entry from an online dictionary in Turkey:

    http://www.seslisozluk.net/?word=chapul&lang=tr-en

    As a missing point, the Prime Minister Erdoğan's first words on "çapulcu":
    2 June 2013

    "We cannot just watch some çapulcu inciting our people. Yes, we will also build a mosque. I do not need permission for this; neither from the head of the Republican People's Party (CHP) nor from a few çapulcu. I took permission from the fifty percent of the citizens who elected us as the governing party."

  13. Jason Bechtel said,

    June 20, 2013 @ 11:00 am

    chapulité! I love it!

    "And the new English verb was born: to chapul. Soon after, the word moved to the French language and found a place among such words as liberté, egalité and fraternité: chapulité."

    http://socialistworker.org/2013/06/20/a-new-verb-for-the-21st-century

  14. Link love: language (55) | Sentence first said,

    July 4, 2013 @ 8:20 am

    [...] Çapuling: the swift rise of a new word. [...]

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