Portakal ne demek?

So, this is just a quick story tonight. Perhaps you will brand me the meanest teacher ever, but I thought this was absolutely hilarious. A little while back, one of my students was sitting at snack time deep in thought. The next thing I know, he is asking one of the Turkish teachers that was sitting nearby what the English word for “orange” was. It is hard to communicate this scenario without using Turkish, so I’ll try.

kid: Demet, portakal Ingilizce ne demek? (What is orange in English?)
teacher: Orange.
kid: Hayir. Renk biliyorum. Portakal ne demek? (No, I know the color. What is orange in English?)
teacher: It’s orange.
kid: HAYIR! Renk BILIYORUM. (turning to me) Teacher, portakal Ingilizce ne demek? (What is orange in English?)
me: Orange.

Oh goodness, this is where I lost it. He was really about to cry, welling up and all. I tried to explain that the fruit and the color were the same, and finally the other teacher told him all in Turkish that the word for the color was the same word as the word for the fruit. I had never thought through the second language difficulties of “orange” before. At least the poor kid has no doubt today what the color or the fruit is called.

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