Thirty-seven ways of looking at a dervish

 A secret turning in us450px-Mevlevi-Derwisch
makes the universe turn.
Head unaware of feet,
and feet head. Neither cares.
They keep turning.

– Rumi

As everybody knows, the Mevlevi are an  order of dervishes founded  in Konya in the 12th Century  by the followers of the great mystical poet Rumi and who are best known for their practice of whirling as a form of “dhikr” (remembrance of God).

If you go to Turkey, people at home, before you  leave, might say that you ought to see dervishes and that if  you were to see dervishes you ought to take a picture. Perhaps you don’t give this much thought in the beginning, you don’t really keep an eye out for dervishes. But then one day you realise that time is running out and that you must see dervishes and you ask someone where you can see them. They tell you that if you turn left where the simit seller usually is and then walk until you see a boy who has a rabbit which picks out slips of paper to tell your fortune, opposite where they are there is a little square where sooner or later you will see dervishes. As you follow these indications, you think that if, as they say, you are going to see dervishes you should buy a camera to take that picture you were assked for. You buy the cheapest one you can find and wait for an hour on the little square but don’t see anything. You stop a  passer-by and say that they said you would see dervishes here, but there don’t seem to be any. He tells you to be patient and that you might see dervishes, maybe later. After another hour, you stop another person. He is in a hurry but he says, “But you are seeing dervishes, look over there.” He rushes off. You stare in the direction he indicated and think: I am said to be seeing dervishes but I seem not to be. Night is about to fall, you can’t wait much longer. So you point your camera in the direction of the dervishes you are supposed to be seeing  and say, “If I have seen dervishes, they will come out in the picture.”

If you have managed to get this far (not many will have), do the following exercises.

1. Translate this  text into Turkish with the aid of the tables below taken from Turkish Grammar by Geoffrey Lewis, which gives you 37 ways of combining tense and mood to make statements about seeing dervishes.

2. Learn all the 37 forms and recite them – a mystical experience in itself.

3. Replace dervishes with another word, I suggest tercümanları (interpreters) or  kangaruları (kangaroos) and see what stories you can make up using Turkish verb forms.

4. Go up to someone you don’t  know and say, “I might see dervishes, maybe later.”

 

Simple

 

Pas

Conditional

Present                               
-(i)yor-

Dervişleri görüyorum.
I am seeing Dervishes.

Dervişleri görüyordum.
I was seeing Dervishes.

Dervişleri görüyorsam, …
If I am seeing Dervishes,

General
(aorist)

-(i)r-.

Dervişleri görürüm.
I see Dervishes.

Dervişleri görürdüm.
I used to see Dervishes

Dervişleri görürsem, …
If I see Dervishes, …

Future
-ecek-

Dervişleri göreceğim.
I will see Dervishes.

Dervişleri görecektim.
I was going to see Dervishes.

Dervişleri göreceksem, …
If I am going to see Dervishes, …

miş-past
-miş-..

Dervişleri görmüşüm.
I saw Dervishes. (so they say)

Dervişleri görmüştüm.
I had seen Dervishes. (so they say)

Dervişleri görmüşsem, …
If I have seen Dervishes,

di-past
-di-— or —...

Dervişleri gördüm.
I saw Dervishes.

I have
seen Dervishes.
(II) Dervişleri gördüydüm

I had seen
Dervishes. Dervişleri gördüysem.
If I saw Dervishes, …
— or —
If I have seen Dervishes,

Necessity
-meli-

Dervişleri görmeliyim.
I must see Dervishes.

Dervişleri görmeliydim.
I needed to see Dervishes.

Conditional
-se-

Dervişleri görsem, …
If I were to see Dervishes, …

Dervişleri görseydim, …
If only I had seen Dervishes, …

Subjunctive
-e-
(III)

Dervişleri göreyim.
I might see Dervishes, maybe later.

Dervişleri göreydim!
Would that I had seen Dervishes!

 

 

 

Past
conditional

Inferential

Inferential
conditional

Present                               
-(i)yor-

Dervişleri görüyorduysam, …
If I was seeing Dervishes, …

Dervişleri görüyormuşum.
I am said to be seeing Dervishes.

Dervişleri görüyormuşsam, …
If, as they say, I am seeing Dervishes, …
— or —
If I am said to be seeing Dervishes, …

General
(aorist)

-(i)r-.

Dervişleri görürdüysem, …
If I used to see Dervishes, …

Dervişleri görürmüşüm.
I am said to see Dervishes.

Dervişleri görürmüşsem, …
If, as they say, I see Dervishes, …
— or —
If I am said to see Dervishes, …

Future
-ecek-

Dervişleri görecektiysem, …
If I was going to see Dervishes, …

Dervişleri görecekmişim.
I am said to see Dervishes.

Dervişleri görecekmişsem, …
If, as they say, I was going to see Dervishes, …
— or —
If I am said to be about to see Dervishes, …

miş-past
-miş-..

Dervişleri görmüş idiysem, …
If I had seen Dervishes, …

Dervişleri görmüş ümüşüm.
I am said to have seen Dervishes.

Dervişleri görmüş ümüşsem, …
If, as they say, I have seen Dervishes, …
— or —
If I am said to have seen Dervishes

di-past
-di-— or —...

Dervişleri gördü üdüysem, …
If I had seen Dervishes, …

Necessity
-meli-

Dervişleri görmeliymişim.
They say I ought to see Dervishes.

Conditional
-se-

Dervişleri görseymişim.
They say that if I were to see Dervishes, …
— or —
They say, “If only I would see Dervishes”!

Subjunctive
-e-
(III)

Dervişleri göreymişim!
They say, “Would that I had seen Dervishes”!

 

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