Expressing The Facts with Taste: Bitter, Sweet, Sour and Salty in Turkish Folk Culture

Ozdemir S. S., KAHRAMAN A. G.

MILLI FOLKLOR, vol.135, no.135, pp.160-172, 2022 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 135 Issue: 135
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Journal Name: MILLI FOLKLOR
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, Linguistics & Language Behavior Abstracts, MLA - Modern Language Association Database, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.160-172
  • Keywords: Turkish folk culture, bitter, sweet, sour, salty
  • Recep Tayyip Erdoğan University Affiliated: Yes


The concepts of bitter, sweet, sour, and salty have an important place in expressing the tastes of food as four basic taste elements. Besides the meanings they represent in the frame of different tastes, they are used as connotations to express many phenomena in Turkish folk culture. Expressions such as "salty humor ", "sweet talk ", "sour -faced " and "bitter cold " indicate that these concepts are used to describe many different states, emotions, and humane features. The statements also indicate that the concepts have a cultural deepness. Based on this fact, the starting point of this study is to scientifically analyze the place, importance, areas of use, the meanings symbolized by the words bitter, sweet, sour, and salty in Turkish folk culture. Analyzing the differ-ent connotations and areas of use show the richness of Turkish folk culture and it is believed that studies about the symbolic meanings of the words will contribute to the transmission of Turkish culture. In this respect, determining the meanings represented by the words in Turkish folk culture and explaining them in the frame of cultural dimension is highly important. The study is based on the cultural analysis method, which is one of the qualitative research designs. Firstly, lyrics of the folk songs, idioms and proverbs, and statements in colloquial speeches including the words bitter, sweet, sour, and salty are analyzed with document analysis. After that, the obtained data are analyzed with the thematic analysis method, which is a sub-method of content analysis. Themes and patterns are created according to the results of the analysis process. The metaphor determining method is used in the analysis phase. Research findings involve a total of 258 statements includ-ing the words bitter, sweet, sour, and salty. There are 21 metaphors for the word bitter in 4 different themes, 18 metaphors for the word sweet in 3 different themes, 11 metaphors for the word sour in 2 different themes, and 6 metaphors for the word salty in 2 different themes. On the other hand, besides the meanings represented by the words bitter, sweet, sour, and salty in the frame of the tasting world, it is determined that the word sweet has completely positive abstract connotations while the words sour and salty have negative abstract connotations. The word bitter has generally negative abstract connotations while it connotes "charming and radiant ", which are positive. It is observed that there is a positive relationship between the use frequency of the meanings of bitter, sweet, sour, and salty in the frame of the culinary world and the variety of their conno-tations in general terms. On the other hand, when the use frequency of the words bitter and sweet is analyzed, it is seen that they have a bigger place in Turkish folk culture when compared to the words sour and salty. It is seen that especially the words bitter and sweet represent many phenomena in Turkish folk culture. The rela-tionship between the results of studies about different tastes based on sensory processes and this variation should be determined and analyzed. It is thus important to make researches about the origins of these words. When the researches about the uses of the words before the 13th century are analyzed, it is seen that the words acig and secig were used instead of aci (bitter), the words tatliglig, and tatlig were used instead of tatli (sweet), the words nigsi, civsagun, and civsan were used instead of eksi (sour).