Greetings and Gestures


When greeting friends or strangers, one shakes hands and says " Nasilsiniz " ( How are you? ) or "Merhaba" ( Hello ). A typical response to Nasilsiniz is " Iyiyim ", " tesekkur ederim "( Fine, thank you ). Among friends, greetings are followed by polite inquiries about one's health, family, and work. Among close friends of the same (and sometimes the opposite) gender, Turks clasp hands and kiss on both cheeks when greeting. To show respect, an older person's hands may be kissed and brought to touch the greeter's forehead. The young often greet each other with " Selam " ( salute ). Someone entering a room, office, or tea house might say " Gunaydin " ( Good morning ) or " Iyi gunler " ( Have a nice day ). When parting, it is customary to wish for blessings from Allah "Allahaismarladik", to which the response is " Gule gule " ( Be on your way with a smile ). Upon joining a small group, one greets each person individually. When addressing others formally, professional titles are used. Among peers or with younger persons, the title "Hanim" is used for women and " Bey " for men. These titles follow the given name for example, Leyla Hanim or Ismail Bey. With older people, one uses " Abla " for women (Fatma Abla) or " Agabey " (Ahmet Agabey) for men. These terms mean sister and brother . If there is a great difference of age, the terms aunt and uncle are used, again after the first name: " Teyze "(Fatma Teyze) for women and " Amca " (Ahmet Amca) for men. Turks generally use their hands a great deal during conversation, forming gestures that add meaning as well as emphasis. Social courtesies are valued in Turkey, and Islamic conventions are observed by many. For example, it is offensive to point the sole of the foot toward another person, and it can be seen as an insult to pass an item with the left hand; it is best to use both hands or just the right one. Deference towards older people, or those with higher status, is customary, and it is considered disrespectful for young men and women to cross their legs in front of an older or more senior person. Public displays of affection are not acceptable. The word No can be expressed by either shaking the head or lifting it up once quickly.


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