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 usage.

Further nuances of Hungarian time telling can be horrifying to foreign ears, like HÁROMNEGYED KILENC MÚLT KÉT PERCCEL (literally: three quarters nine past two minutes, i.e. 8:47) ÖT PERC MÚLVA FÉL HÉT (five minutes in half seven, i.e. 6:25). If maths is not your stength, the recommended way to deal with Hungarian time telling is to go digital like 14:23.

The funniest episode of Hungarian way of telling the time is the classical scene in Casablanca, the famous WHAT WATCH? interlude built on the pun that ÓRA in Hungarian means both ’hour’ and ’watch’. The film’s most popular quotes is:

  • What watch?
  • Ten watch.
  • Such much?

In Hungarian:

  • Hány óra?
  • Tíz óra.
  • Olyan sok?

Watch the clip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Th0G8rkhBqg