Duran Adam

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Another Turkish term is entering the international lexicon: "duran adam", or "standing man".  Andy Carvin, "The 'Standing Man' of Turkey: Act of Quiet Protest Goes Viral", the two-way (NPR) 6/18/2013:

As protests against the Turkish government enter their third week, activists are taking increasingly creative measures to maintain their momentum.

Over the weekend, police removed their tent city and re-opened Istanbul's Taksim Square to traffic, while maintaining a strong presence in the area. This might have seemed like the end of it for many protesters, until a lone man decided to take a stand, literally, against the government. For more than six hours Monday night, Erdem Gunduz stood motionless in Taksim Square, passively ignoring any prodding or harassment from police and people passing by.

His unusual form of protest has inspired activists in Turkey and around the world to assume the same pose. He's even become his own meme, as "standing man" (duran adam, in Turkish) supporters upload their own protest photos to Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere.

"'Duran Adam' auf dem Taksim-Platz: Der stehende Mann wird zur Protest-Ikone"
"Ο ακίνητος διαδηλωτής της πλατείας Ταξίμ" (Ο Τούρκος ΥΠΕΣ λέει δεν θα συλλαμβάνονται οι 'duran adam' ενώ η αστυνομία προέβη σε 4 συλλήψεις)
"Turski Gandi: Pogledajte najprkosnijeg demonstranta na Trgu Taksim" (Duran-adam, ili standing man: Erden Gunduz, simbol Turskog proleća)
"<르포> 이스탄불 탁심광장의 `우렁찬 침묵'" (반정부 시위의 중심인 탁심광장은 18일(현지시간) 아무 말도 않고 아무런 행동도 하지 않는 '두란 아담'(duran adam) 시위대가 점령했다.)
"Turquie: l'homme debout, nouvelle figure de la contestation" (Il est l'homme debout, "duran adam", nouveau symbole d'une contestation pacifique qui ne veut pas lâcher prise.)
"Duran Adam: la protesta dell’uomo in piedi contro Erdogan"
"No hacían más que estar de pie, pero la policía se los llevó" (Un trupo de agentes se llevaron al "Duran adam" (hombre de pie), un artista escénico que llevaba seis horas de pie y sin moverse.)

Twitter #duranadam



  1. Uri Granta said,

    June 19, 2013 @ 4:17 am

    "duran adam" – adam as in Adam, but not, sadly, duran as in Duran Duran. Turns out they were named after Durand Durand, the villain from the 60s scifi movie Barbarella.

    "another Turkish word" – are there many others? There are certainly lots of Persian words that traveled westwards via Turkish (coffee, tulip, caftan, caviar, kiosk, etc), but the only Turkish etymology I can think of is the bir-üç proposal for bridge, the card game.

    [(myl) "Another" here was a reference to chapulling; but less topical examples include baklava, bergamot, bosh, bridge (the game, maybe), bulgur, caracal, chagrin, effendi, fez, halvah, hummus, janissary, odalisque, pastrami, scimitar (maybe), seraglio (partly), sherbet/sorbet, vampire (maybe), yogurt.]

  2. Jason Merchant said,

    June 19, 2013 @ 4:19 am

    And the Turkish grammar teachable moment here is that the participle "duran" (from the verb "durmak", 'to stand, stop') ends in the famous -An, which is used to form subject relative clauses (so "duran adam" can also, perhaps better, be translated as "the man who stands") and relative clauses over parts of a subject, as first investigated in Hankamer and Knecht's classic 1976 paper (and many since; see Kornfilt 1997, etc.), as in "[öğretmen-i kov-acağ-ı hemen duy-ul-an] müdür (lit. teacher-ACC fire-FUT-3sg immediately hear-PASS-An director) 'the director who (it) was immediately heard that (he) was going to fire the teacher' (example from Kornfilt's 2000 "Some syntactic and morphological properties of relative clauses in Turkish").

  3. Levantine said,

    June 19, 2013 @ 4:20 am

    Not to be nitpicking, but it's really two words. The term has been newly coined and is not an established compound. I am of Turkish heritage and am slightly baffled as to why the native form of the term has taken hold in the way it has. Unlike 'çapulcu', it is not any less evocative when translated: 'standing man' fully conveys the term's literal sense and captures its ideological overtones. I suspect it is the spread of the Twitter hashtag that has popularised the use of the original Turkish.

    [(myl) Indeed it's two words — I've corrected the post to read "Another Turkish phrase".

    And it's long been common for a perfectly compositional foreign phrase to be adopted in place of its equally compositional translation, for reasons of cultural particularization. There are many French phrases of this kind used in English, e.g. bien pensant, café au lait, crème de la crème, femme fatale, haute cuisine, idée fixe, joie de vivre, noblesse oblige, nouveau riche, nouvelle cuisine, etc. etc.]

  4. Levantine said,

    June 19, 2013 @ 4:38 am

    Uri Granta, 'coffee' is Arabic. The others, as you say, are ultimately Persian. As for English words of Turkish etymology, I can think of 'yogurt' (not to mention such Westernised versions of Ottoman terms as 'janissary', 'odalisque', and 'pasha').

  5. GeorgeW said,

    June 19, 2013 @ 5:32 am

    And 'adam' is almost certainly an Arabic loan (It could also be Hebrew, but more likely Arabic).

  6. zythophile said,

    June 19, 2013 @ 5:44 am

    I've always wanted "booze" to come from Turkish "boza", but alas, it appears in English probably a couple of centuries too early …

  7. J.W. Brewer said,

    June 19, 2013 @ 7:27 am

    If Turkish was the source from which English got a particular loanword, I'm not sure it should lose credit just because Turkish had in turn borrowed it from Arabic or Persian. If one were looking at English-origin loanwords in Japanese, would you distinguish between those of Anglo-Saxon pedigree and those of French/Latin origin? (Of course, if it's a word that's no longer current in modern Turkish because of the Kemalist ethnic cleansing of the lexicon, that raises an interesting subquestion.)

    The loanword "bashi-bazouk" used to figure in self-congratulatory Western discourse about the allegedly poor human rights record of the Turkish government of the day, but may now have a somewhat archaic feel.

  8. peter said,

    June 19, 2013 @ 7:38 am

    Sic transit, etc. Who now remembers loya jirga, which seemed to have entered English in 2002?

  9. Victor Mair said,

    June 19, 2013 @ 8:01 am

    These words, places, and events have a particular poignancy for me, since I was staying in Taksim Square and running in Gezi Park just a couple of weeks before the protests broke out. Because of the heavy police presence, the ugly construction barricades around the edges of the square, and the deep excavations that abutted the park, I sensed that something was amiss. Yet the people went about their business during the day and enjoyed themselves in the evening. I suppose that, at a certain point, they simply came to the recognition that they were going to lose this beauty and space of community spirit, and they decided to do something about it, to speak out.

  10. Victor Mair said,

    June 19, 2013 @ 8:59 am

    Aside from "bergamot", whose flavor I imbibe several times a week, my favorite Turkish word is karagöz (lit., "black eye"), which is a reference to the lead role in the Turkish shadow play, or to the shadow play itself.



    Another Turkish word that got around over most of Eurasia is "effendi", which means something like English "Sir", but it was also used as a reference for the supreme jokester, Nasreddin. In China, where he was picked up via the Uyghurs, Nasreddin is wildly popular as Afanti 阿凡提.

    There has, of course, been an enormous amount of linguistic and cultural exchanges between the Greeks and the Turks, and the traffic went both ways. Karagöz became Καραγκιόζης in Greek, and effendi derives from medieval Greek afendēs (αφέντης).




  11. bks said,

    June 19, 2013 @ 9:03 am

    n 1: an ornamental metal cup-shaped holder for a hot coffee cup


  12. The Power of Standing Still | Vox Nova said,

    June 19, 2013 @ 9:10 am

    […] into Taksim Square and stood there.  Over the past day, the man who has become known as "duran adam," Turkish for "standing man," has inspired other still, silent protests across […]

  13. GeorgeW said,

    June 19, 2013 @ 9:52 am

    @Victor Mair: Not surprisingly, 'afindi' is common in Arabic as well, at least in Egypt. I don't recall encountering it in the Gulf.

  14. J.W. Brewer said,

    June 19, 2013 @ 10:08 am

    Some Turkish loanwords may have fallen on hard times in the post-Ottoman era, as that regime stopped being a metonym or proxy for the Islamic world more generally (from an Anglophone POV). For example, the market share of the once-popular Turkish-derived (yeah yeah, maybe they got it from Persian) "Mussulman" for Moslem/Muslim started declining (per google n gram viewer) around 1880 and was obsolete-archaic by c. 1940.

  15. J.W. Brewer said,

    June 19, 2013 @ 10:32 am

    And see also (from one of the Church of England prayers for services on Good Friday, first put in the vernacular in the 1540's) "have mercy upon all Jewes, Turkes, Infidels, and heretikes," where "Turkes" was a metonym/synecdoche for Muslims in general. That sense is also in the now-archaic "turn Turk" for "convert to Islam" (possibly opportunistically or under duress?) and various extended senses thereof (e.g. Shakespeare's "the rest of my fortunes turn Turk with me"). No doubt the more secularist factions in modern Turkish politics would be happy that these usages have become obsolete in modern English.

  16. DW said,

    June 19, 2013 @ 10:43 am

    "Standing man" makes a nice counterpoint to "falling man" in reference to the horrible video of the man jumping/falling out of the World Trade Center on 9/11.

  17. Mike said,

    June 19, 2013 @ 11:13 am

    I guess Aslan sort of counts…depending on how sentimental you are about your childhood reading habits.

  18. Uri Granta said,

    June 19, 2013 @ 12:21 pm

    Levantine: oops re coffee, which is indeed of Arabic origin. And of course, before Ottoman Turkish, it was Caliphate Arabic that often carried foods and their names to the West (orange, lemon, sugar, aubergine).

    The last of these, aubergine (from the Arabic badijan and originally from Sanksrit) has led to a number of cute folk etymologies: mela insana (crazy apple) in Italian, something like baida jan in Arabic (egg of the devil), and brown jolly in the West Indes.

  19. Levantine said,

    June 19, 2013 @ 2:00 pm

    It should be noted that 'bergamot' seems to have a rather convoluted etymology that also involves the town of Bergamo in Italy (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=bergamot). Some of the other words mentioned above (including 'sherbet', 'hummus', and 'zarf') are of Arabic origin, though as J.W. Brewer pointed out, this does not diminish the importance of Turkish as the language that transmitted these words to Europe.

    One English word that is definitely of Turkic origin is 'horde' (Turkish 'ordu', whence also the name of the language Urdu).

  20. Subsídios para uma teoria geral da resistência silenciosa – Aventar said,

    June 19, 2013 @ 2:00 pm

    […] O conceito "resistência silenciosa" voltou à ordem do dia, com o duran adam. […]

  21. J.W. Brewer said,

    June 19, 2013 @ 3:30 pm

    "Horde" is of Turkic origin but not necessarily of Turkish origin in the narrow modern Anatolian sense; it seems more plausibly to have come to English not via the Ottomans but by a more northerly route (via one or more Slavic intermediaries) from the sort of Turkic language associated with the "Golden Horde" and its affiliates, e.g. some variety of Tatar or perhaps Cuman. (This is obviously not inconsistent with there being a cognate word in modern Turkish proper.)

  22. Levantine said,

    June 19, 2013 @ 3:36 pm

    That's very true, J.W. Brewer. I tried to cover my back by writing 'Turkic' rather than 'Turkish'.

  23. cameron said,

    June 19, 2013 @ 4:36 pm

    @Uri Granta – the italian melanzana does come from mela insana, but that doesn't translate as "crazy apple". In English we use the word "insane" only in the sense mentally insane. Italian uses the word in its more literal sense, hence "unhealthy apple" would be a better translation.

    According to the article on brinjal in Hobson-Jobson, the mela insana coining was connected with the theory that the vegetable in question really was bad for you, in fact that it caused cholera. I think those Italians were onto something. Those things are disgusting; eating them can't be good for you . . .

  24. Bloix said,

    June 19, 2013 @ 6:04 pm

    Also marzipan, a favorite of mine. And I've read a perhaps farfetched argument that yarmulke is of Turkish origin.

  25. Levantine said,

    June 19, 2013 @ 8:08 pm

    Bloix, 'marzipan' may be of Persian or Arabic origin, but it is certainly not Turkish. In fact, Turkish has almost no native words beginning with M; 'meme' (teat, breast) is one of the few that do exist.

  26. errorr said,

    June 19, 2013 @ 9:42 pm

    Turkish words also include tulip, divan, kismet (from Arabic), dervish (Arabic), caviar (Persian), turquoise (literally Turkish stone), tandoori (from Urdu, Arabic, Persian), caftan (Persian), Cathay (China from other Turkic), dervish (Persian), minaret (Arabic), turban (Persian), and kiosk (Persian).

  27. Jason said,

    June 20, 2013 @ 7:42 am

    I think "standing man" was definitely thinking of the semiotics of "tank man" in Tianamen Square in 1989 when he decided to make his protest.

  28. Victor Mair said,

    June 20, 2013 @ 7:45 am

    Miscellaneous notes:

    Instead of "crazy apple," perhaps we could say "rotten apple" (the kind that can spoil a whole barrel)!

    The English word "Cathay" ultimate derives from the name of a nomadic Mongolic people, the Khitan (in Modern Standard Mandarin Qìdān 契丹), which also yielded the Russian word for China, viz., Китай.


    Positing a steppe origin for the word "horde" makes a lot of sense, since it ultimately goes back through Mongolian orda, a sociopolitical and military organizational structure, to a Xiongnu (parallel to, but not identical with "Hun") word referring to the camp or headquarters of a chieftain.


    Aside from yielding the word "Urdu" ("language of the military camp"), this very ancient steppe term is also evident in the name "Ordos" (a desert in Inner Mongolia).



  29. Bloix said,

    June 20, 2013 @ 9:20 am

    Levantine, I was misremembering. The proposed origin of marzipan that I was thinking of is Arabic, not Turkish.

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