Tag Archives: Ottoman Empire

“Don’t be such a Turkey!” “Um… O.K.”

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Do you see it?

When I was growing up, if someone called someone a “turkey” it was done with quite a bit of venom and bitterness and in such a way that such an insult was simply impossible to answer. It ended disputes. A kill shot. This always amazed me, and left me bewildered. Why would this ever be perceived as being so vicious? I would just laugh.

Meanwhile, back in the 1500s, guinea fowl were imported to Europe and then North America from the Anatolian peninsula, i.e., Turkey. These were called “turkeys” and that appellative was then used for the much larger North American fowl.

Meanwhile, a person from Turkey was said to be a Turk. But who even knows that? People just used “Turkey” as in “He’s a Turkey.” Intonation told the story: “He’s such a Turkey.”

All of these received usages were developed during the Ottoman Empire. Thus, a Turk was held to synonymous with a Muslim going on rampages of violent aggression to take over the world as they smashed into Europe so very many times. The Ottomans enslaved hundred of thousands of Europeans and left woe and destruction wherever they went.

“You’re such a Turkey.”

I never knew all that as a kid. I’m sure the Armenians can tell you all about it.

armenian genocide by ottoman empire

Lord, have mercy on us all. We all do this kind of thing all the time.

“Don’t be such a Turkey!” – “Um… O.K.”

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Filed under Interreligious dialogue, Politics