Ottoman Command, Phrases, Camp Lingo

82nd  Orta Janissaries home

Useful phrases and activities for a Living History Impression 1603-1683

Thanks to Emir Yener: basic commands in Turkish

Prepare to march - Yürümeye hazır ol !
March on - Yürü !
Halt - Dur !
Wheel to the Right - Sağa dön !
Wheel to the Left - Sola dön !
Right face - Sağa bak !
Left face - Sola bak !
Ready your piece (load) - Tüfek doldur !
Prepare to fire - Hazır ol !
Give fire - Ateş !
CHARGE! - Hücum !
RETREAT! - Ricat !

many people can exchange pleasantries in various languages. We may
encounter the following Arabic standards used by the Ottomans:  
As-salEIM alayKUM  - Peace be with you  (Arabic pronunciation slightly
differs:  As-saLAAM alayKUM,  )
 Saleim - Peace (simple greeting)  -
Günaydın, Good Day
Merhaba. (Mur-HA-ba)   -Greetings/Hello in Turkish
IL-Hamdu-Allah - Thanks be to God
Insha'Allah - God Willing (the phrase stamped on the plate "spoon" on
the bork hat.)
When speaking English, never say "Allah", say "God"!

Kelab Nazrine - Christian Dog - an oft-reported expression by 18-19th C. visitors to the middle east.

Orta - Regiment
Oda - Squad or file
Odabashi (O-da-BASH-y) - Corporal, Rick's rank
Yeni-Ceri (Janisarry) - New Soldier (new model army, meaning about the same as mameluk
slave army not free Turkish "Gazhi" noble warrior, or Azap)

ottoarmydetail.jpg (1694036 bytes) Ottoman Army on March


If we are asked......  A section on dealing with hot buttons with the public.  

Are you a Turk?  You Don't look like one.  (Actually, I have been informed by people who should know that I look sufficiently Turkish when in kit, and a few people at the festival addressed me in Turkish.  There is lots of Turkish blood in Eastern Europe, and lots of Slavic blood in Turkey.

Turk is not a term the Ottomans used for themselves at this time.  They would have more likely described themselves to an European as a Muslim, or perhaps an Ottoman.  However all ottomans were called Turks by outsiders, weather blue eyed & Slavic speaking, or not. Turk is not therefore an ethnic/national label, as we use it in the 21th C. If they did not want blue eyed & Slavic speaking Turks in the empire, their great-great-G-G-...Grandpa should not have conquered a quarter of the civilized world.


Janissaries were *never* ethnic Turks!  So many Slavs were in the European Orta (regiments) that many orta spoke a Slavic patois back in the barracks, although all military commands were Turkish.

One of the things that pulled the Ottoman empire apart was a late attempt by the "young turks" to impose the Turkish language on their Arab, Greek and other subjects - the ottomans were happy to be multicultural.

We have a few Turkish-American members and we welcome more.

Are you a Muslim?  Our Janissary characters are Sunni Muslim.  No Muslim was allowed to be a Janissary until just after our period - instead young Christians (or Jews or Zoroastrians or others) captured or drafted were admitted as trainees (and slaves of the Sultan), where they Maud.jpg (257011 bytes) converted to the Muslim faith and were circumcised.  (The Janissary circumcision ritual was a big annual festival).

To be a Muslim you must make a profession of faith: there is no God but God and Mohammad is his messenger. The other pillars of the faith are somewhat optional: alms, pilgrimage, 5-daily prayers, fasting during Ramadan.  as converts we would make much of the inclusion of the Bible as a holy book, recognition of Jesus as a Prophet, etc.; we would have been presented Koranic teaching as an addition and "perfection" of our family's faith, not as a replacement. One man who (in the late 1500s)

moved back to Serbia after a career as a Janissary claimed that he and some of his fellows did not entirely give up their Christian faith (in secret) but that they had little problem with acting the role - that they admired much of the Islamic tradition (and despised some of it, according to him). Most were enthusiastic converts.  The Janissaries on and off had a reputation for being bad Muslims in the sense of drinking wine and whatnot, but they would have observed all the rituals to a T.

What does it mean to be "slave of the sultan" ?  we are literally slaves, but well educated and well treated slaves. So much so that some families want to give over their children to be Janissaries.  But, Our master has life and death power over us with no recourse to appeal. Our children, being Muslims from birth, are not slaves, but when we die all our property belongs to the sultan. Many Ottoman scholars of the 16th -17th C. argued that the institution was illegal under Islamic law, but that did not stop it.

Modern 19-21th C . Politics are not within our character's knowledge!


We do know The Armenians were a valued Christian minority that was more or less tolerated within the empire during the 1600s. Armenians were also famous traders and craftsmen - so much so that any

community of craftsmen were sometimes called Armenians, whatever their actual ethnicity.

Also essential traders and craftsmen.


An essential core of the Ottoman Empire; Christian and non-Christian.
Turkish culture borrowed heavily from the Greeks.  The Janissary costume is essentially an evolved Greek Byzantine costume.  The fez hat is a Greek not Turkish or Moroccan fashion contribution.  The Kargoz
puppet play tradition is almost identical in both cultures. Etc.

More to come.