Identify a Turkish POW song

Discussions on the final era of the Ottoman Empire, from the Young Turk Revolution of 1908 until the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.
Pete H
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Identify a Turkish POW song

Post by Pete H » 27 Jan 2020 22:03

Hi

My grandfather was a POW at Gelebek in the Taurus Mountains in 1917-18. He survived the war and in latter years would occasionally break into song.

Phonetically, and with his dubious pronunciation, it sounded like this
: kam leelah, kam lee-oom, yakabibtee sooleeman

He said it meant : How many nights, how many days, my dear Sulyman ?
The locals would chant it while doing heavy labour work.

I'm hoping someone could shed light on the identity of this song and its relevance to his experience. Where did the song originate?

It seems to me that the words are more likely to be Arabic rather than Turkish. However, I was not aware that there were Arabic labourers in the camps. It could be that he picked the song up earlier in the War, perhaps in Egypt or Palestine?

Any help appreciated, I realise this is an unusual request.

Pete

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Waleed Y. Majeed
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Re: Identify a Turkish POW song

Post by Waleed Y. Majeed » 28 Jan 2020 01:35

Could well be arabic as it’s fairly close to Syria and on the Baghdad Railway line.

Waleed

stevebecker
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Re: Identify a Turkish POW song

Post by stevebecker » 28 Jan 2020 01:56

Mate,

My GF use to use the same for an Egyptian work song he heard the locals use?

But was like, way-ya-woop which was repeated

He said used by the slaves or such workmen as a chant?

S.B

Pete H
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Re: Identify a Turkish POW song

Post by Pete H » 28 Jan 2020 12:12

Thanks Waleed and Steve. Getting closer.

Steve would know a hell of a lot more about the ICC than I do, my granddad joined them early in their existence when still in Egypt. I think I have read that the infrastructure that followed the allies from Egypt to Palestine (water pipeline, rail...) involved numerous local workers. Perhaps that's where the song was heard. What I wouldn't know is how closely an ordinary soldier in the ICC would be to that part of the whole operation.

Does anyone have any knowledge of Arab speakers being at work in the POW camps. To be honest, everything I've read refers only to POWs plus perhaps Armenians and some local Turks... If there were no Arab speakers working in the camps then origin must be Egypt / Palestine.

Pete

stevebecker
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Re: Identify a Turkish POW song

Post by stevebecker » 30 Jan 2020 00:49

Pete,

I do remember hearing something like what my GF use to chant in an old English movie about Kitchener's move down the Nile to help Gordon, I think it was something of the "Four Feathers" movies. The Egyptian Natives was singing/Chanting as they pulled the barges throw the cataracts.

But The movie was many years ago far to long to remember a name?

I take it you used Google translate?

kam laylat , kam yawmaan , ya eazizi sulayman

Does not ring any bells , sorry

S.B

Pete H
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Re: Identify a Turkish POW song

Post by Pete H » 30 Jan 2020 20:22

Hi Steve,

That was a really inspired suggestion. I looked the film up, its the 1939 version of the 'Four Feathers'. An interesting film to watch actually, and the relevant seen starts at about 40 minutes. Its on YouTube. I get your drift about the similarity in both the rhythm and the words, although perhaps not exactly the same. It certainly gives a vivid illustration of what this chanting was like which was very welcome.

I guess you are right about Google translate, and by checking backwards I can see that yours is the accurate version. Not my own work the translation by the way, it was produced by my grandad's surviving son who is 92. Not a bad attempt for an 'old guy' and there cant be too many like him who remember a Camelier in person! He is proving a very good source of small details like this.

Thanks for your help,

Pete

stevebecker
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Re: Identify a Turkish POW song

Post by stevebecker » 31 Jan 2020 00:18

la tuqaliq ya rafiq

S.B

Tosun Saral
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Re: Identify a Turkish POW song

Post by Tosun Saral » 31 Jan 2020 10:43

Arabic which means:
la tuqaliq ya rafiq : Do not worry, buddy
la: not
ya rafiq: You my friend

Tosun Saral
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Re: Identify a Turkish POW song

Post by Tosun Saral » 31 Jan 2020 10:53

kam laylat , kam yawmaan , ya eazizi sulayman
How many nights, how many days Oh you King Solomon
kam... kam :how many
leyl or layl: night
yawn or yewn or yevmiye: day, daily
eazizi : most dear,
Suleyman: King Solomon. He was a respected probhet for all moslems who ruled the wind animals, plants, birds, gins, ect.

Tosun Saral
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Re: Identify a Turkish POW song

Post by Tosun Saral » 31 Jan 2020 10:57

At Gelebek on the Taurus mountains therewere no arabic speaking people. The inhabitants were all turcic. Only at Adana and Mersin there were some africans brought from Sudan and egypt to work on huge cotton plantages.

Pete H
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Re: Identify a Turkish POW song

Post by Pete H » 31 Jan 2020 20:59

Thanks buddies, most appreciated both of you!

Nice to clarify that it was Solomon they were chanting too rather than any of the other alternatives I had in mind like Suleiman etc. Also great to confirm that this was unlikely to have been encountered at Gelebek, which I had pretty much assumed but reassuring to have expert corroboration.

It seems that the chant was something he had heard in Egypt / Palestine. Most likely I suppose, the labourers who accompanied the British / Australian NZ forces as they progressed Eastward, these were the Egyptian Labour Corps. Nice how that matches Steve's memory of chants heard in Egypt, and the scene in Four Feathers.

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals ... ore-reader

Reading the above article it seems pretty clear that they were keen to go home, as you would expect, and that might explain the lyrics.

Thanks guys,

Pete

stevebecker
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Re: Identify a Turkish POW song

Post by stevebecker » 01 Feb 2020 00:27

Mate,

I remember both my father and GF using Arabic words and sayings around the house and when I went to work with them, they were carpenters.

While my father must have picked them up from his dad, as my father only served in Korea, not in the Middle East as my GF did.

I still use words I picked up in the countries I served in, while my Vietamese is a bit out of date my Serbo/Croatian is a little better.

S.B

Pete H
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Re: Identify a Turkish POW song

Post by Pete H » 01 Feb 2020 10:02

That's interesting. I guess many of these men would pick up little sayings and songs along the way. Soldiers being what they are they probably created their own 'ruder' versions as well in many cases...

The other one my Gdad brought home was a Turkish instruction ‘Heidi Karlum, Heidi suss’ (or so it sounded). This was usually applied at home as an instruction to get up the stairs to bed and go to sleep. A few attempts at translation broadly agree with each other, meaning ‘work faster and shut up’.
"Haydi kazalim, haydi sus" might mean ‘dig faster (work faster) and be silent’, this would be repeated over and over many times. (translation kindly provided by Oguz Ozkan).

Pete

stevebecker
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Re: Identify a Turkish POW song

Post by stevebecker » 04 Feb 2020 23:33

Mate,

Yes I also tried to check out the Arabic they used on me, I remember what sounded like Imshci or such like. when he wanted to shoo us kids away from him

Words like, Yella and others I am sure were not nice, was a way to say them without anyone knowning what you said?

I still remember them, but have no way to confirm what he was saying. But like you said they may have mixed these words up or confussed them over the years

Tosun;

of caues "la tuqaliq ya rafiq" translated to Australian means;

"No worries, Mate"

Computers default to American English, not the Kings English or in this case Australian slang

Cheers

S.B

Pete H
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Location: UK Merseyside

Re: Identify a Turkish POW song

Post by Pete H » 07 Feb 2020 23:41

I always wondered if when these blokes brought terms like these back with them, shared them with their kids, part of what was going on was a kind of therapy. That bullying expression that prison guards used on you is softened by you using it in a different context on your kids.. Helps them put the past to bed, something like that. So my granddad chasing his kids to bed with a term that guards had used to intimidate him when he was effectively a helpless slave labourer helped him to forget the negative connotations. Hard to express this one but hopefully you know what I am getting at.

Pete

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