Turks Show Capulling Power

Protests and civil action can often be a fertile source for neologisms, with Arab Spring in particular being the most prominent example of recent years.

The situation in Turkey, which has seen protesters ranged against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan over plans to redevelop a park, have also spawned a new word, and it may yet grow to become the single one to encapsulate the story.

Prime Minister Erdogan described the protesters as çapulcu, meaning looters. If it was meant to demean people, it backfired. Not only did those ranged against the Prime Minister willingly embrace the word, they even coined a verb, Capulling, pronounced Chapulling. The concept of Capulling shot across social media, the wearing of T-shirts emblazoned with the phrase ‘Every Day I’m Capulling’ became widespread, and Turkish newspapers even started referring to the protests as the Capulling movement. To be seen to be Capulling rapidly became the mark of belonging, of being part of something important.

The definition has evolved to mean roughly “to act in a peaceful and humorous manner to remind governments why they exist”. It is also showing signs of breaking out of Turkish and across the language divide, so as well being the key word of record for this event, it may cross over into other protests in other countries.

What is most interesting of course is how it represents the classic modern evolution of the new word. Somebody uses a word designed to be derogatory. Recognising the power of words, those slighted turn it on its head to make something positive out of it, something to bind people together. And then the power of social media does the rest, giving it an explosive trajectory towards establishment. It is a word of social media and identity, existing there to begin with and then gaining oxygen via those outlets as well.

Oh, and it’s a word of viral videos as well:

How The Turkeys Got Stuffed

To celebrate the holiday season, Wordability brings you a festive short story:

It was headline news when turkeys voted for Christmas.

Farmer Colin Walters had assumed the ballot papers in the turkey coop were the work of ironic kids. But then he noticed how the turkeys were jostling each other to get as much feed as possible, and when he joked “you really did vote for Christmas”, he was staggered when one replied “it was about time”.

Within days, Barry the Turkey was on television, explaining how turkeys had finally decided to accept the inevitable and acknowledge they were merely Christmas fodder for the masses.

People were not sure what amazed them more – that turkeys were so self-sacrificing, or that Barry could talk. Whichever one it was, this show of intelligence convinced many that these sentient beings could not adorn their Christmas table, and that year, nut roasts ran short on supermarket shelves.

Buoyed by his supporters on radio and the internet, Barry described his love for language and launched his war on cliche. To that end, he unveiled his chocolate teapot, specially tempered to avoid melting. Shortly afterwards, he flew to the Arctic and sold a snow machine to a group of eskimos.

But when he returned and checked out his legions of fans on website forums and phone-in shows, he found they had changed. His murdering of their basic phrases had deprived them of the only way they had of expressing themselves, and suddenly angry invective trailed off into oblivion as the self-styled arbiters of modern-day opinion found they had no resources with which to finish their sentences.

And so Barry became a figure of hate as a popular movement to turn him into twizzlers was formed. His achievements were forgotten and turkeys went back to eating the minimum of what was put in front of them.

Barry locked himself up and threw away the key.