Language Matters

God’s Leg

 

The word ISTEN – that is ‘God’ – is frequently used outside religious context in Hungarian. A graphic example is the saying MEGFOGTA AZ ISTEN LÁBÁT, meaning ‘He/she has caught God by the leg.’ The phrase is used in situations when someone is lucky. He/she has found the way to succeed. E.g. someone got a […]

By |January 15th, 2017|Language Matters|0 Comments

WHAT’S THIS MAGPIE DOING?

Can you guess the meaning of this Hungarian proverb:

The magpie wants too much but its tail is too weak to carry it away. In Hungarian:

SOKAT AKAR A SZARKA, DE NEM BÍRJA A FARKA.

Meaning in Hungarian cultural context:

Someone who undertakes a task that exceeds her/his capacity. Someone wants to do too many things but fails in […]

By |December 18th, 2016|Language Matters|0 Comments

HEART SENDS TO HEART HEARTILY

Could you guess what the headline stands for? In Hungarian it’s SZÍV KÜLDI SZÍVNEK SZÍVESEN and evokes a popular radio program of the MAGYAR RÁDIÓ which started back in 1951 when family, friends and lovers could send a song to their beloved accompanied with a personal message. The genre became so popular that it is […]

By |May 23rd, 2016|Language Matters|0 Comments

I DON’T THANK YOU

No, thank you equals NEM, KÖSZÖNÖM according to Google Translator. However, when you say that, Hungarians will hear the statement as NEM KÖSZÖNÖM, which –according to the rule of making a sentence negative – will mean I DON’T THANK YOU. Consequently, if you want to be polite and refuse something, the correct form is KÖSZÖNÖM, NEM.
There is an […]

By |May 2nd, 2016|Language Matters|0 Comments

A Taste of Spring

The advent of spring (TAVASZ) in Hungarian minds is associated to March and signalled by at least four things: the arrival of the storks from Africa (the first one has landed in Gemenc last week), a cry-out for a new love, the eruption of  revolution(s) (in particular the1848 Revolution on March 15) and the appearance […]

By |March 5th, 2016|Language Matters|0 Comments

THE HUNGARIAN CINEMA

In most languages the word for cinema is something similar to the French term cinématographe, originally coined by the Lumière brothers in the 1890s, who borrowed it from the Greek κίνημα ‎(kínēma, “movement”) adding the French suffix -graphe. Not in Hungarian. It’s called MOZI, an amiable word, the diminutive form of mozgó (from the verb […]

By |February 27th, 2016|Language Matters|0 Comments

Our recent visitor from Ireland enrolled for a one-hour class after getting upset about wasting money on a phrasebook published by a renowned travel book company.  His efforts to pronounce phrases transcribed like HEE-vom å REN-dø̱r-shey-get * or SŮK-shey-gem vån edj Or-vosh-rå**  proved to be futile to make himself understood with the locals. Even though […]

By |February 19th, 2016|Language Matters|0 Comments

WHAT’S LOVE IN HUNGARIAN?

In Hungarian one cupcake would suffice saying SZERETLEK, definitely more economical.  The root of the word is SZER, the verb is SZERET (love or like) while the noun is either SZERETET or SZERELEM (love).

Foreigners are advised to use the derivatives of the word cautiously to avoid misunderstanding. The verb in first person singular has three […]

By |February 13th, 2016|Language Matters|0 Comments

HOW TO TELL THE TIME IN HUNGARIAN

When a Hungarian offers to meet you at FÉL ÖT (half five) what time will you ink in your calendar: 4:30, 5:30, 16:30 or 17:30? Well, only the Germans and the Dutch would get it right, i.e. 4:30 while the British would read it as half past five, which would be FÉL HAT in Hungarian […]

By |February 5th, 2016|Language Matters|0 Comments

WHAT’S WHITE CASTLE IN HUNGARIAN?

Foreigners living in Hungary often struggle with pronouncing some Hungarian place names in a way locals should grasp what they mean. One of them is SZÉKESFEHÉRVÁR. To Hungarian ears it’s ever so easy since you just take the three words and read them together with the stress on the first syllable: FEHÉR = white VÁR […]

By |January 31st, 2016|Language Matters|0 Comments