By Muhammed Enes Calli
ISTANBUL (AA) - A Uruguayan woman’s life changed when she discovered a Turkish series on Netflix in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020.
The show was Kara Para Ask (Black Money Love), a popular TV series in Türkiye that deals with love, corruption and class disparities, and is also thriving in Latin America and beyond.
She then became a fan of Turkish TV shows, binge-watching all episodes of more than 20 series and deciding to learn the Turkish language.
"I was listening to the characters talking and realized that this is what I want to do. I had to learn to talk the way they talk. Because the sound of language is so good ... I decided to learn," Victoria Bergalli told Anadolu in a Zoom interview.
Bergalli is among the millions of people crazy about Turkish TV series, but she took her enthusiasm and passion a step ahead – teaching the Turkish language by sharing clips from top-rated shows from Türkiye on TikTok.
On her page, Aprende turco (Learn Turkish), she shares short videos with Spanish subtitles, and also explains Turkish expressions.
The 35-year-old, who designs household items such as lampshades, took advantage of her new-found interest to reach out to more people. Her TikTok account currently has more than 160,000 followers.
"I wanted to share something that is fun and connected to the series," she said. "I think, (there are) more Spanish-speaking people, just like me, who want to learn Turkish and go to Turkey after watching the shows."
- Learn the basics
Bergalli acknowledged that people may not be able to fully learn the Turkish language through social media, but her endeavor could at least familiarize them with the basics. "My goal is encouraging them to learn Turkish," she said.
She explained that watching the shows in the original language with Spanish subtitles would be beneficial to get acquainted with the language.
"You should watch them in the original language. You have to pay attention ... when you read the subtitle and listen to the word being said, you can make the connection.
"You need to listen to the natives to learn how they pronounce Turkish. It is the best teacher you will have."
Bergalli believes that many Spanish-speaking people want to learn Turkish, but there aren't many outlets compared to English.
"We can listen to English music here in Uruguay, in South America. We watch English films and are very connected to the English language. For that reason, people can easily understand English. But Turkish is completely different because it's a language that is so different as we're not connected at all. So, I wanted to share videos, which would help learn the basics."
The Turkophile uploads a post almost every day, trying "to be consistent and constant and always have something new to share."
- Growing interest
Türkiye’s entertainment industry has grown over the past years, offering diverse content from soap operas such as Ask-i Memnu (Forbidden Love) to historical docudramas such as Dirilis: Ertugrul (Resurrection: Ertugrul).
Turkish shows have established a large audience across the globe, becoming one of the country’s main cultural exports.
Türkiye has exported its TV series to some 152 countries over the last six years, the second-highest figure after the US, according to official figures.
Bergalli said she mainly has two kinds of followers: those who want to learn Turkish, and those who want to find out what Turkish series to watch next.
But "what they ask the most is, if I (will) teach them Turkish," she said. "So to my surprise, I found that so many young people around the world watch Turkish shows and want to learn the language."
- Nostalgia, escaping reality
Turks are known to be emotional and expressive, and Bergalli believes it to be among the reasons for their shows to be much-loved in South America.
"The level of feelings, and passion Turkish shows deal with are completely different from the level of passion and feelings that an American show can portray," she said.
"Latins and Turkish people are so passionate. Turkish shows are slow and are like love in slow motion, so you can enjoy the process as it used to be. So it gives you that kind of nostalgia."
Away from the drudgeries of everyday life, the television series also help one escape reality.
"We don't care if that's the reality, or it isn't. It's the kind of escape from daily life and routine. We like to think that characters are like (how they) appeared in shows. We like to think that love is deep," she said.