No big surprises from the Turkish parliamentary elections yesterday, but I did want to share my favorite item of pre-election news: a speech in which the leader of the far-right nationalist party mispronounced bisküvi (biscuit) as püskevit. I’ve been trying to think of how to translate püskevit to convey the right effect.  Piscuit?  Bisguit?  Bisguat? In the speech he is saying something like, “Children watch TV commercials, they see smiling children eating chocolate and piscuit, and they think: ‘if only I had chocolate – if only I had piscuit!  Mother, get me chocolate!  Get me piscuit!’”

Within days/ hours, there was a site online (it shows a screenshot of the entry for “biscuit” in the Turkish Language Institute dictionary) and a number of “püskevit remixes” (my favorite here).

The nationalists subsequently announced that “püskevit” was a regional (Adana/ Osmaniye) pronunciation, and that a popular snack food (“Anatolian fast-food”) back in the day was a sandwich made with two biscuits and a piece of Turkish delight (lokum).  It’s not totally clear to me whether the idea is that “püskevit” was the Adana word for the biscuit-lokum sandwich, or, as seems more likely, just the word for biscuits in general; in any case, this sandwich, under the name “püskevit,” rapidly became a standard snack at nationalist rallies. Püskevit pride was also (re)awakened in Adana where, according to a local locum maker, this noble snack was once served at weddings and on Mohammed’s birthday:


In other breaking Turkish weekend news, the translation of my book – Ecinniler: Rusça Kitaplar ve Onları Okuyanlarla Maceralar – came out on Saturday!  Thanks to translator Sabri Gürses and everyone at Doğan for their hard work!


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

5 Responses to “WHERE IS MY PISCUIT?”

  1. Christina Says:

    Eminent Elif!

    I have noticed a certain exclamatory! style! to my communications since I read your book. I, and my interlocutors, thank you.

  2. Stas Feldman-Bogdashko Says:

  3. Elif Says:

    dear stas! thank you for this amazing historical aside! i don’t know why i was so surprised to learn that the freemasons were behind the success of the oreo versus the hydrox. in retrospect this was obvious.

    esteemed christina! many thanks for your kind note! i’m so happy to do my small part to promote the exclamation mark. if you haven’t read it already, you might enjoy chekhov’s “the exclamation mark”: a dickensian-gogolian christmas story about a “collegiate secretary” who is haunted by all the exclamation marks he never used because his writing style was so joyless. i haven’t found the english text online but here is the russian.

  4. Dave Lull Says:

    Here’s the Google Translate version of the story:

    And here’s another– eh– version:

  5. Christina Says:

    Thanks, Elif!

    I’ve ordered a copy of Chekhov’s short stories through interlibrary loan.

    Now this from the Google Translate version, “Fire sign of contented and disappeared”, sets my absurdist heart a-quiver.

Leave a Reply

Refresh Image