Afiyet Olsun Bill Anderson!

5 December 2013

As the original texts are written in Turkish, English translation is provided for non-Turkish readers. The author apologizes in advance for any and all possible changes and losses in meaning due to translation.

Misunderstandings can easily occur even among the people who belong to the same culture or speaking the same language. And now imagine, how a conversation between people from different cultures, speaking different languages could result in. Here, I’d like to share a story of a friend, the late Mr. John D. Tumpane, a light hearted story on this topic.


“An American booked passage on a White Boat traveling from Istanbul to all the ports-of-call around the coast of Turkey – the Dardanelles, Troy, Izmir, Ephesus, Bodrum, Antalya, Tarsus and Iskenderun. He was assigned a table in the dining room with a very distinguished white-haired old Turkish gentleman. When they met at dinner the first night, the old man bowed and said, “Afiyet Olsun.”

The American assumed the Turk was introducing himself, so he said,”Bill Anderson.”

They ate in silence.

The next morning at the breakfast table it was the same thing again – “Afiyet Olsun.” “Bill Anderson” – and for every meal thereafter.

After a few days on the boat, the American met a Turkish couple who spoke English, so he asked them about the Turkish custom of introducing oneself every time one sat down to eat.

“Why, we don’t have any such custom,” said the Turkish lady. “What did he say his name was?”

“Afiyet Olsun.”

“Oh,” she laughed, “that only means ‘Good Appetite.’”

Well! the American was so pleased to learn the meaning of the Turkish expression he could hardly wait to use it at dinner that night.

“Afiyet Olsun,” he said, bowing deeply to the Turkish gentleman.

“Bill Anderson,” said the old man politely.

– John D. Tumpane

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