Aaron in Azerbaijan

Just another blog about Azerbaijan.

A Healthy Obsession, Ctd.

with 2 comments

The blog received an excellent comment yesterday from “Movie-ing Maniac” in response to my post about health in Azerbaijan a few days ago.  Read it in full here.  There are a few things MM brings up, particularly with my reading too much into the words used by Azerbaijanis related to health.  MM expanded on my understandings of sağ and salamat, chiming in:

The word “sag” does not mean just health. In Azerbaijani, the word sag also means “right” (right as opposed to left and right as opposed to wrong).  So when people say to you “sag ol” it also means be right or follow the right path…The word salamat has two connotation: 1) well-being, 2) peace. When people say to you salamat they wish to you – by implication – peace, well-being, and health.

Absolutely.  Sağ pulls those meanings in, too.  Yet, I don’t think in saying thanks that sağ ol would ever mean “be to the right (of left)”.  The second possibility, following the right path, sounds like an interesting meaning.  Though, it sounds rather hubristic to say that to someone when you are thanking them.  That said, MM is right, sağ can mean those things too.  And it sounds like he’s more in the know about these sayings than I am.  Another good point:

Also, I would not agree with statement that frequent use of words related to health as farewell words or whatever means people are obsessively concerned with their health.

Fair.  Yet, I don’t necessarily find this a compelling argument.  While standing alone the words commonly used in a language may not lead to a direct relationship with particular concerns.  However, I’ve found in my experiences here that most people really are fairly obsessed with health, more than I’m used to, and things like commonly used words only serve to buttress the effect.

I’m intrigued by MM’s comment, and will do some more research.  I don’t have all of the insights, and there is a strong notion of being “inside” a culture that I will never have here.  My view is only from the outside.  And I could be totally wrong about this health thing.

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Written by Aaron

March 27, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Aaron,

    Thank you for your attention to my comment. I appreciate the way you disagree – unlike many people in Azerbaijan (I was born and raised there and Azeri is my native language) who would jump in and be defensive.
    Actually, I thought that “sag ol” would not necessarily mean “be right” or follow “the right path”, but before detailing what I meant and why I chose to right what I wrote, let me clarify my own mistake. When I wrote “be right” I wanted to say “be the one, who is on the right path”, the meaning more precisely expressed in the second phrase, not necessarily “be to the right” as opposed to “be to the left”.
    Now about why I had doubts on my own interpretation of the word “sag ol” and why I chose to interpret the word “sag ol” as meaning “be on the right path”. “Sag ol” is created by combining two words (“sag” – right and “ol” – to be. That is why we write two words separately intending one basic and common meaning). Usually, in these kind of phrases and verbs initial meaning of combined words are not retained. The whole point of combination is to create new word-meaning in which initial and unrelated meanings of two separate words create one new meaning(like in the verb “qulaq asmaq” which means to listen(combined from words “qulaq”-ear and asmaq-“hang”).
    I was suspicious that same process can happen in “sag ol”. But even if that happens, what previous meanings of two separate words brought together for one new meaning imply about the concept (and metaphors) expressed in new word? Why do Azeris put together “right” and “be” to say by-by or thank you or whatever, rather than putting together “jump” and “go to heaven”? It is like math. “2+2” is four but so is “1+3”. Why 1+3 and not 2+2? Here interpretation and speculation comes in and it can stimulate some insights.
    Anyway, I liked the word “chime in”. It has some ambiguity there going on.
    I can write another comment on my argument too but that would be too boring and too long. Sorry for already long comment. I will say only thing. I don’t contest your experience. I disagreed with what you take that experience imply and how/what you draw from that experience as a conclusion.

    sag ve salamat:) (like fare well:)…)

    Movie-ing Maniac

    March 28, 2010 at 6:04 pm

  2. […] a comment » I think after this post, these comments, and this subsequent post, it’ll probably serve us well to talk at least one more time about what’s going on here […]


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