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Kaliarda XXVII: Biondo
Thanks to friend of this blog Kostas Karapotosoglou, I’ve consulted Raffaela Biondo’s honours thesis on Lubunca from Università Ca’ Foscari, Venice: Lubunca: Lo slang queer del turco. Usi e funzioni sociolinguistiche a Istanbul e Berlino.
The research contribution of Biondo’s thesis is a survey of attitudes towards Lubunca by gay Turks in Turkey and Germany, and the extent of their usage of it. There is some introductory material, and a glossary of Lubunca; I suspect much of this material is in Kontovas’ thesis, but I’m going through it for completeness.
- p. 17. The slang of the Beyoğlu district of Istanbul, studied by Özdemir Kaptan in 1988, is polyglot, and includes Greek, Italian, French, Armenian, Russian and English; this reflects the polyglot nature of Beyoğlu (mediaeval Pera) itself, as the Venetian and Genoese settlment, and then as the Levantine centre of Istanbul.
- p. 27. Kontovas included as characteristic of Lubunca the use of alıkmak as a light verb, and the use of -matik, -oz, oş as derivational suffixes. (p. 117 alıkmak is based on Turkish almak “to take”; -ık- is obscure.)
- p. 27. The first Turkish slang dictionary was Lugat-i Garibe by A. Fikri, 28 pp long, from 1889/1890. Next came Devellioğlu’s 1941 dictionary, then Hulki Aktunç’s 1990 Türkçenin Büyük Argo Sözlüğü, which is the major reference on Turkish slang. Slang studies in Turkish have intensified since the 1990s.
- p. 84. Lubunca is also known as labunca, lubunyaca, kelavca. kelav is Lubunca for “prostitute”; lubunyaca is the older form of lubunca, from lubunya “gay bottom, trans woman” < Romani lubhni “whore”. So Lubunca lubunya, like Lubinistika/Kaliarda lubina, conflated cis female prostitutes and queers as reflexes of lubhni. (I’d been avoiding queer as too generic till now, but it’s better than ibne or gay or gay bottoms and trans woman.)
- p. 118: lubunya has spread to general Turkish slang. labunya is a synonym of lubunya; cf. Manganaras’ recorded form labuni, which appears to correspond to later lubina.
- p. 84. Online sources speak of 300–400 words of Lubunca; Kontovas, recall, found 158 roots. Petropoulos, it should be said, recorded 3000 words (700 roots), but guessed there were more like 5000 extant.
- p. 85. Morphological peculiarities of Lubunca (Kontovas 2012:13–17): -iz, -ız as a non-productive nominalising suffix on verbs; productive derivative suffixes -oş (Greek), -tör, -tor (French); the use of alıkmak as a light verb.
- p. 86. Kontovas concluded Lubunca must have originated in the final decades of the Ottoman Empire—the use of “58” as a visual pun only makes sense before the 1932 introduction of the Roman alphabet. Lubunca as we now know it was standardised in the 80s (when it was first recorded) and 90s, a time which speakers consider the golden age of Lubunca. (Speakers of Kaliarda would be unanimous that the golden age of that language was Petropoulos’ time.)
- p. 87. Romani is no longer spoken by Istanbul Roma, but it was in the 60s; so Lubunca must have originated before then. The Greek in Kaliarda would date from before the exodus of Istanbul Greeks after the 1955 pogrom. (Recall that Manganaras found a language he identified with Kaliarda, spoken in Istanbul in 1904; Kontovas would not have been aware of that source.)
- p. 88. Kontovas situates the origin of Lubunca in Beyoğlu and Şişli, where the Levantines lived, contributing their languages to Lubunca; the Roma of Istanbul also lived in Beyoğlu, and that is where trans sex workers in Istanbul work to this day. Kontovas (2012: 40)
The engagement of Queers, Roma, and other gayrimüslim [non-Muslim] minority women in unregistered sex work during the latter years of the Ottoman Empire and early years of the Turkish Republic explains the cohabitation of social space and corresponding experience of similar social conditions that catalysed in the exchange of linguistic material exhibited by Lubunca.
- p., 93. Lubunca is still much used in its original context of sex work, but it has spread more widely as an emblematic language, including among gay activists.
- p. 96. Lubunca is used by both gay men and gay women, although the sexual vocabulary of Lubunca is ibne-oriented. (There does not seem to have been any takeup of Kaliarda by lesbians, and lesbians are consistently absent in the sources—though Kaliarda is certainly aware they exist.) The secrecy function of Lubunca is becoming less prominent.
- p. 119. paparon for “policeman” got a lot of use in the 80s and 90s to refer to the policemen persecuting trans women; it is now being displaced by beybi < English baby. Already in Petropoulos’ time, paparuna had been truncated to runa, and its earlier form forgotten—Petropoulos was certainly unaware of it.
- p. 120. belde ~ berde “money” is used almost exclusively with reference to payment for sex. One informant claimed that gays would not use belde outside of sexual contexts, but that trans people would extend it from payment for sex to payment for work in general.
- p. 122. homoş “homosexual” and malbuş “Marlboro cigarette” are formed with the pseudo-Greek suffix -oş.
- p. 125, 127. The same has happened with ibnoş, reclaimed from mainstream Turkish ibne, and used ironically.
- p. 126. The Romani denyo “crazy” has generalised from Lubunca to general Turkish slang.
- p. 132. Biondo gives a Lubunca glossary:
- p. 133. balamoz ~ malamoz has the specific meaning “sugar daddy” (as in fact does baron < French). In Kaliarda, balamos is “client of prostitute”; both straightforwardly derive from the Romani meaning “gadjo, boss”.
- p. 135. çaça “madam of brothel” is listed as Lubunca; it is derived from either the dance cha cha cha, or Venetian ciaciarar “to chatter”. As it turns out, mainstream Greek tsaˈtsa means the same, and is not a particularly obscure word; Greek dictionaries derive it from the nursery word ˈtsatsa “auntie”. The Greek etymology is rather more plausible than either of (Kontovas’?) suggestions, and would make this the fifth Greek word of Lubunca.
- p. 143. The fourth Greek word of Lubunca, which Kontovas forgot to list in the excerpt I saw of his thesis (after paparon, paparun, paparos “policeman”, nonoş “bottom, transvestite, effeminate gay man” < nonos “godfather”; and nafta “middle aged man” < naftis “sailor”) is tarika “moustache”, trika “beard” < trixa “hair (follicle; body hair)”; hence (p. 123, citing Kontovas) trikacı “someone excited by body or facial hair”. (Biondo notes that trika has now fallen into disuse.)
- p. 137. The sixth Greek word of Lubunca is hoy “no”, which may come from Greek dialectal oi “no”; the form is only attested in the “Memrise Lubunca Course”.
- p. 139. maydanoz “hair” < “parsley” is not the seventh Greek word of Lubunca, since maydanoz is already well established in Standard Turkish as a Greek loanword.
- p. 138. laço in Lubunca is specialised to mean “20–40 year old man; active gay; virile gay”—so in fact what Kaliarda speakers would have referred to as a kolambaras, though presumably with less of the toxicity of kulampara/ibne relations that the Kaliarda usage was characterised by, since the term is in contemporary use (“active gay” rather than “active sex tourist”). laçovari, accordingly, means “masculine”.
- p. 139. minco has moved from meaning “vagina” to meaning “anus”, something that may reflect the more recent attestation of Lubunca compared to Kaliarda, with at least some trans women more overtly identify their anatomy as feminine. We saw that in Kaliarda, even in the 80s, mudzo was restricted to cis women by speakers who themselves identified as trans.