‘Sagol’ – Gratitude Azerbaijani Style

IMG_5233The word ‘sagol’ is probably by far the most used word in Azerbaijani. It means:

  • Thank you;
  • Good-bye;
  • Cheers (when people drink alcohol).

Its literal translation is ‘be alive’ – ‘sag’ (alive); ‘ol’ (be).

Paradoxically, despite its wide application, within families this word is used sparsely. So, if a family member wanted me to make a cup of tea, they’d say:

‘Gulush, get me tea.’

No please. No thank you.

There are two assumptions:

  1. Of course you are there to serve your family members, especially as a woman; and
  2. Of course they are grateful.

And if you were to challenge someone for not saying thank you, they might say, well, it’s in the tone. You can say the words ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and be totally rude.

Having lived in England for 10 years, I’ve learnt to say a lot of thanks and pleases. When I used to visit Azerbaijan in the past few years, I caused a lot of offence by my behaviour.

‘What are we strangers to you?’ People close to me said on more than one occasion.

You see, thanks and please are used with strangers, but not necessarily with family members.

Then a few months ago, my husband and I talked about my habit of not saying enough thanks at home. It took me by surprise. Of course, I’m grateful when he washes up or does laundry. Who wouldn’t be? I’m making more effort to show my gratitude explicitly these days. I think everyone is happier for it. We even started socialising my son to say thank you and please when he asks for something. Some of our attempts are comical, but I think he got the message that those are important words to know and say. I’m hoping he’ll be very British in this respect.

With the Thanksgiving this week, I wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who reads my post and supports me on my writing journey. I don’t think one could ever show too much gratitude, especially to the near and dear.

This is Day 7 of the 30-Day Blogging Challenge run by LearnToBlog.com. The theme I’m exploring in these 30 days is Azerbaijan, the setting of my memoir(s). I’ll show you places and share memories that shape my books.

13 thoughts on “‘Sagol’ – Gratitude Azerbaijani Style

  1. It’s interesting isn’t it, that your family felt you were treating them as strangers when you used please and thank you with them, and your husband needed you to show appreciation for his contribution at home, which really shouldn’t be expected (the appreciation, that is). I think both adults should be contributing to the maintenance of the household. Does he thank you for yours? To me, in that instance, thanking indicates that he is doing something that is extra, helping you, and shouldn’t be expected of him. That’s not to say that showing appreciation is not necessary. Appreciation always helps. I do like the tradition of please and thank you. It’s just good manners in my book.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Various cultures definitely are interesting. I truly am surprised that the Azerbaijani assume “please” and “thank you” in their treatment of family members. However, at the same time I think of how we in the states often forget to say “please” and “thank you” to our family members. Then often someone gets angry or feels taken advantage of, in time. People do like to feel appreciated for our efforts.

    Thank YOU for writing such interesting posts and reminding us to appreciate one another.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your kind words, Gwynn. I agree, it’s nice to appreciate each other on a regular basis, otherwise it’s easy to feel taken for granted.
      On a different note, I hope you granddaughter had a very happy 2nd birthday on the 21st. I meant to write over the w/e, but didn’t get around. W/e with a toddler are intense. He found in me a playmate, which is delightful and tiring… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Gulara for the birthday wishes for two year old Blakely, my granddaughter. She is such a character. Fortunately, between her parents, aunt and uncle, and two sets of grandparents none of us were exhausted as we had fun sharing the munchkin! It was a fun day! I’m can relate to enjoying playing with little ones. I love it! I play Grandma Monster with my other granddaughter. As when I catch them, I eat them up with Love (hugs and kisses)! When they come visit they say , “Grandma, Let’s play Grandma Monster!” and then they are off running. I DO get my exercise this way! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • Wonderful exercise, Gwynn, keeps you young in body and spirit. What a wonderful way to connect, and how lucky your grandchildren are to have you. Many blessings to you and all your loved ones.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Really interesting to see the difference in cultures, especially that your family would see you as treating them like strangers for verbally saying thank you.
    I also found Norah’s comment intriguing – the suggestion that thanking your husband means he is doing something extra, above his duties. I think this is possibly a common thought, and yet it still feels good to have ordinary things appreciated. I know I like when someone says they enjoy a meal I’ve cooked (even if they don’t say “thank you.”)
    I guess there are many ways of expressing appreciation.
    Thank you for joining in the link-up and for expressing your gratitude.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much for reading and commenting here, Yvonne. Gratitude and its expression is paramount for the health of our relationships with people. It’s always nice to be appreciated. Thank you for this month’s theme, I enjoyed reading about gratitude and counting my blessings. Many blessings.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s