The "Street Girl" Among Hyprocrites: Nazan Öncel

In Turkish pop music, there are a few singers/songwriters who left their mark like no other. For most, Sezen Aksu would be the first to remember but despite having some rebellious lyrics, she has never been the rebel. That status is reserved for Nazan Öncel.

The Sokak Kızı (Street Girl) is such a master of the Turkish language that she would genuinely bring the street language up to a literary quality. Nazan Öncel may not be the most acknowledged artist in Turkish pop/rock music, considering her productivity and the novelties she introduced to the genre(s) but she definitely deserves the acclaim.

Nazan Öncel might be one of the hardest-to-translate lyricists as she loves using idioms and "very Turkish" expressions in her songs but I'll try my best. The three songs I chose to translate here shows different sides of her artistic talent. "Ben Sokak Kızıyım" (I'm a Street Girl) is from her 1996 album Sokak Kızı (The Street Girl) and known by probably everyone in Turkey. "Demirden Leblebi" (Leblebi [Roasted Chickpea] Made of Iron) is too strong and honest to make it really big in our hypocritical society and released on her 1999 album "Demir Leblebi" (The Iron Leblebi). And the last one is Hay Hay (Of Course) featuring Tarkan from her wonderful 2003 album "Yan Yana Fotoğraf Çektirelim" (Let's Take a Picture Side by Side), which was a great success.

So here we go. And as always, I'm looking forward to your suggestions and feedbacks about the translation.

Ben Sokak Kızıyım (I'm a Street Girl)

Turkish lyrics:

I never swung in a swing
Didn't go to a park
Didn't buy candies

Neither I had toys
Nor a kite
Nor new shoes
Nor good clothes for holidays

I didn't become a child

I stole bread from the bakery
Found more to eat in the garbage dump
The cops ran after me
I played cops and robbers

I'm a street girl
Don't treat me well

I found tobacco on the ground
And slept with someone
Got beaten up by my bro
Got no fears of mutts

I'm a street girl
Don't take pity on me

I was never school
Got no colored paint
Got no pencil

Neither I wore a school uniform
Nor became a scout
Neither I had a head teacher
Nor a book

I didn't become a child

Demirden Leblebi (Leblebi [Roasted Chickpea] Made of Iron)


It could go without telling, too
But now I want to tell
I want to tell it
Maybe it will break your heart
Or you will choke in your tears
Keep your tears
Only cry if I die

We never
Ever talked about this with you
You were my only witness
And my only remedy
Wouldn't you like to understand me?

I carried this pain just for hundred years
Lived with this pain inside of me like a porter
Now hug me
Just hug
And please, now listen to me

It was a goddamn day
The door went open and there he was
There was this dirty look on his face

In that bed where you nursed a viper in your bosom
I was giving milk to my sister at that moment

He went right in the room
And in a bossy tone
Told me to come by
Grabbing me by my arm
Took me on his lap
Merely said "sit down"
Yes, this wasn't just another day

Keep your tears
Only cry if I die

Then while saying "don't look over here, turn your head"
His hands were running over my legs, mom
I said "daddy, please don't"
He was breathing like and animal
Got me clamped
Between his two legs

Then somehow I managed to pull through
Ran into a room
And I was just shouting
"Fuck off, fuck off, get out"
He was punching the door
I was crying, my sister was crying
It all was a nightmare
Just a nightmare

My heart is broken, I'm gonna die
Don't know what the fuck I'm gonna do

My heart is wounded
This is a hell's torture
This is how your daughter
Met life

"What does father mean, mom?"
That word is so foreign to me
I am so sorry, so much
How little a saying is so much
Doesn't suffice to tell nothing

Keep your tears
Only cry if I die

Now you may be peaceful
You are an angel, mom
We paid for every single bite we ate
Dime by dime
And we learned how to pay

A leblebi made of iron
You cannot eat it, you cannot swallow it
Maybe some things
Maybe they will be forgotten
You know what, forgetting is
A leblebi made of iron
A leblebi made of iron
Of iron

My heart is broken, I'm gonna die
Don't know what the fuck I'm gonna do

It was my life taken away from me
My innocence stolen
Who dares to say a single word

A nine-year old kid
Met life this way
The milk of her mother
The dick of her father
This kid was your daughter, mom

Hay Hay (Of Course)


If they ask "who is he to you?"
I'll tell "he is my rose, my honey"
If they ask "who is he to you?"
I'll tell "he is my lover, my lover"
If he asks for my heart
I'll tell "with pleasure"

His cat, his dog, his jacket in the cupboard
His shoes, his slippers, his picture on the wall

He shall take whatever he has and come
He shall come for me and stay if he likes

Of course, he shall come in
Of course, he shall stay for good
Of course, he shall come in
Of course, the one who loves me shall come in

If they ask "who is he to you?"
I'll tell "he is my eye, my tear"
If they ask "who is he to you?"
I'll tell "he is my summer, my winter"
If he tells that it's not the case
I will go "he sure knows a thing"

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