Secret language of flowers Çiçeklerin gizli dili

Koç Keskin N.

Milli Folklor, vol.2020, no.127, pp.194-208, 2020 (AHCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 2020 Issue: 127
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • 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, Sociological abstracts, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.194-208
  • Keywords: Flower, Greeting language, Hasan Bahri, Lehçe-i Ezhâr, Secret language of flowers
  • Ankara Haci Bayram Veli University Affiliated: No


© 2020, Milli Folklor Dergisi. All rights reserved.All methods, which are created for keeping something secret or for being kept secret, have been called secret language. When the history of the Turkish language and culture are taken into consideration, then it is observed that many secret languages were used. The Kalaycı (Tinsmith) Language, Dilce (Dis-course)/Erkiletçe/Vartanca (slang spoken by people from Erkilet) and the Islık (Whisled) Languages are the secret languages existing in Turkey today. Whereas, in the Ottoman society, many elements, such as plants, flowers, fruits, vegetables, pieces of fabric and colors were used as a secret language, which provided communication between women and men. As far as it is known, Du Vignau, the secretary of the French Ambassador, mentioned this secret language as the “greeting language” and gave the meanings of 179 elements in the work titled Le Secrétaire Turc (The Turkish Secretary), written in 1688. In the subsequent century, in 1718, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, discussed this subject language by giving 17 examples in a letter. Whereas, in 1809 Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall published a list compiled from the women in the harem and made some additions to this list in 1811. At almost the same time, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who started to write the West-Eastern Divan in 1814 and completed it in 1819, stated that the floral motifs woven into the shawls of girls composed a language of love. Whereas, another list dated 1886 was made known in a paper by Zsuzsa Kasuk and Cemil Öztürk. In addition, belonging to the same century was another list with the title of “Der Muammâ-yı Zen-Pâre Birâderlere Her Bâr Lâzım Olan Ma’nâlardır Ki Vaktile Her Biri Bin Gurûş Eder” that was published by Gülçin Edith Ambros by comparing it with the lists by Kasuk and von Hammer-Purgstall. Flowers display an important place in these lists. When the twentieth century was reached, Avanzâde Mehmed Süleymân published Lisân-ı Ezhâr (The Language of Flowers) by translating from a French work and Hasan Bahri published similar lists in which flowers were in the forefront with the title of Lehçe-i Ezhâr (The Dialect of Flowers). The Lehçe-i Ezhâr was included as a section in the book Kadınlara Mahsus Pembe Kitap (The Pink Book Especially for Women), which was a book of self-care and rules of etiquette published in 1919 and that was written/translated for women by Hasan Bahri. In the Lehçe-i Ezhâr were included a total of 179 different types, led by flowers, plants, herbs and fruit/fruitless trees. Furthermore, in the Lehçe it was dwelled upon that flowers are “a means of love and communications” and that they provided a secret communication between women and men. Bahari, who gave the meaning of every flower, plant, herb and fruit/fruitless tree types, emphasized with importance that these meanings should be known by women and men. The Lehçe-i Ezhâr is separated from the subject lists due to the previously mentioned elements and the meanings attributed to them. As much as the Lisân-ı Ezhâr and Lehçe-i Ezhâr, the names of the flowers (indicative), the meanings that are equivalent (shown) also finish with rhyming words, such as in the example of gül/kül with the flower names. There is no explanation in this manner in the Lisân-ı Ezhâr and Lehçe-i Ezhâr. In this article, after an introduction related to secret languages, the meaning given to flowers in the lists have been compared and by giving the written translation of the Lehçe-i Ezhâr, evaluations have been made on the secret language of flowers.