Polyglot Throttling

posted in: Extreme Sports | 0


That was the word I was looking for. Couldn’t find it in seslisozluk online Turkish dictionary. Or rather, I couldn’t tell which of the 20 entries was the one I needed. Vedat to the rescue. He knows engines AT LEAST as well as my dad (which is considerable) and is my constant go-to.

Jikle“, the Turkish word for “choke“, is what I was searching for. It’s the lever you pull to reduce the air supply to the carburetor to help start a cold engine.

Today’s engine talk with my dad prompted all this. He asked me whether the dirt bikes I ride out at MPK are fuel injection or carburetor. Thinking back on it, I remembered using the choke to start the KTM 250 EXC before, but never had to do that with the Kawasaki KLX 140 or the Sherco 250 SEF-R. And since I never HAD to use the choke, admittedly, I never actually went looking for it.I shouldn’t be that lazy about knowing the machines I’m riding. I had to look up the engine specs to see.

Surprised I haven’t actually needed to use the word jikle in my bike conversations here yet. It should have come up by now. Long ago, actually.

I have lived all of my adult life in Turkey. Moved here right out of college. In fact, this year is the tipping point for having spent more than 50% of my life here. That means all of my extreme sports I had to learn to do in Turkish. Learning to sail and eventually racing yachts? All in Turkish. Until I was talking sailing one day with some newly arrived expats, I didn’t even know the name for my position was ‘pit’ because in Turkish I was always called the ‘piano man’ (piyanocu).

Same with canyoning and rock climbing. I don’t know all the names of the knots in English. Or half of the equipment. I’ve never needed to know the English and the topic never comes up. The Turkish terms are what I need to know well to do my sports here.

But engines are different. I grew up with motorcycles and engine talk. English is my native language when it comes to all things grease and mechanical. Now that I’m finally riding again, though–and surrounded by mentors like Vedat, Sinan, and Fulya– there may soon come a tipping point when my knowledge of and vocabulary for engines will be far more Turkish than in English.

If I’m doing my part to increase my knowledge, that day should come pretty soon.


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