Thanks for all of the recent feedback we’ve gotten from so many of you. Györgyi and I love to read your comments and hear how you are using the language and enjoying the podcast. It’s also very motivating for us, so please keep it up! I apologize for not responding to your comments and emails lately, but we’ve been real busy with our upcoming move back to Hungary. Györgyi has already moved back, and I’ll go myself in September.
As for the podcast, I was hoping to get one more with Györgyi done before she left, but it didn’t work out. I would like to continue the podcast though, so perhaps I’ll do a few survival lessons solo until I see her again.
Well thanks for listening everyone, and again if you have anything to say, we’d love to hear it.
The next lesson is being prepared and will be out in a few days. Until then, enjoy this lovely song by the Hungarian rock band Kimnowak, “Gyémánt” (“Diamond”). It’s been played to death on Hungarian radio, but still I find it haunting and tender. Lead singer Péter Novák is the key to the song’s beauty.
We’re getting into the action on Twitter a little late, but hey, “jobb későn, mint soha.” (“Better late than never.”)
We’ve just set up a new Twitter account of our own, which we’d like to update regularly with posts in English and Hungarian, plus a “Word of the Day” feature that I’d like to update everyday that I have access to a PC and Internet connection.
We’re actually in the process of moving over here at Let’s Learn Hungarian HQ and the Internet will be turned off in a few weeks, so this really isn’t the best time to start doing this. Still, I’ll keep it up for as long as I can, then resume when I have net access again.
If you’ve got a Twitter account, feel free to follow us and ask questions about the language or Hungary. We’ll do our best to answer.
I’ve finally finished Arthur Phillips’ excellent novel about expatriates in Budapest, the oddly-titled Prague (2002), and recommend it to everyone who loves Budapest, or just loves great prose and a well-told story. Prague follows five young expatriates who move to Budapest in 1990 for various reasons and discover themselves through their relationships with each other and with a newly-democratized Hungary. It sounds like a well-trod literary path, but Phillips gives it a fresh spin with crisp, insightful writing.
Phillips himself lived in Budapest for a few years in the early ’90s, and his love for the city shows. In fact, I think that he romanticizes the capital so much that he makes it out to be more funky and bohemian than it really deserves, while mostly ignoring the difficult aspects of living in an immediate post-Communist society. But since one of the book’s major themes appears to be nostalgia and how we remember the past (the obsession of one character in particular) perhaps this positive glow of Hungary circa 1990 was slyly intentional on Phillips’ part.
I found the stories and characters inhabiting this book familiar to me as an 1990s expatriate in Budapest myself, although I arrived to the city a few years after Phillips did. And more than just a story about expatriates, the book’s standout section describes the past 150 years of Hungarian history through a clever and fascinating tale of one family over several generations. I also found his observations about Hungarians and the “national character” to be pretty close to the mark (and so did Györgyi, surprisingly).
Well, if you’ve read Prague, please leave us your thoughts here. Our next book review will be another Hungarian-related novel, but this time by a Brazilian! To be continued…
Ok, I’ll admit it – I like Speak. It’s easy to laugh at the guy and his 2003 song that became a YouTube sensation, “Stop the War,” but I respect anybody who’s earnest and authentic, and he definitely comes off as that.
Uncle Drew of the excellent Budacast podcast tracked down the elusive Speak (otherwise known as Tamás Deák) and interviewed the man himself for CBC Radio’s “Search Engine” show. Link here.
And if you’re one of the few who hasn’t yet seen the most awesome video for “Stop the War” (or can’t wait to see it again), we present it here:
p.s. NEW HUNGARIAN LESSON OUT IN A FEW DAYS! (Sorry for the delay, folks… )
If you didn’t already know, last.fm has a quite a large selection of Hungarian music, which plays on your PC in an apparent random order, mixing musical genres and styles. And if you don’t like a particular song, just a click will bring up the next song in line.
The thing I like best about last.fm is that they offer some information about each musical artist they play and how to find out more about them. Actually, I’ve mostly stopped listening to online internet radio since discovering last.fm.
But in the comments section we were obliquely referenced. The first comment was innocuous enough:
grabog 2008.05.11. 20:18:11
Belehallgattam a magyarba. Hát, érdekes. (I listened to the Hungarian. Interesting.)
But the next comment also caught my eye:
richard4tus 2008.05.12. 04:37:56
ezt a podcastot már én is próbáltam, de eltántorított az elképesztő angol akcentus… (I also tried this podcast, but the horrid English accent sent me reeling.)
Apparently he means me and my accent in Hungarian.
First of all, I apologize for butchering the Hungarian language. I probably do have a strong accent. Györgyi’s used to it by now, but I imagine that other native speakers might not be so impressed.
Second, it should go without saying, but it’s worth stating openly: DO NOT IMITATE MY SPEECH PATTERNS. Györgyi is the native speaker, and you should repeat after what she says ONLY. I’m only here so that she doesn’t sound lonely speaking by herself, and because a dialogue needs at least two people.
If there was another Hungarian speaker near us, we would gladly co-opt that person into our podcast and get me out of the way. Hopefully we’ll be able to get another native speaker on soon so you can hear two native speakers talking and imitate their speech patterns properly. Until we can do that, I ask for the native speakers’ understanding and tolerance with my tört magyar!
Happy Easter, everyone! Easter in Hungary is a two-day affair, comprising both Sunday and Monday, with the latter an official holiday.
Easter Monday is also when some people observe the Hungarian tradition of “locsolkodás,” or “sprinkling.” According to custom, men sprinkle water or cologne on women they know, starting from dawn on Easter Monday. Typically they also say some type of poem to the girl before sprinkling, and in return the female gives the male a present, often a painted egg.
Several years ago, and even today in some villages, men toss buckets of water at women in their finest traditional clothing. Or at least, they do it for the cameras!
All-in-all, it’s a fun tradition, but clearly the man gets the better end of the deal, as he gets an egg and the woman gets either soaked or ends up smelling like cheap perfume at the end of the day.
There are a lot of funny sprinkling poems out there, so share some here if you know any!
As promised in the last podcast, here’s a video of the Hungarian rock parody band Irigy Hónaljmirigy (“Jealous Armpit Gland”). Not sure of the name of the song exactly, but the title of the video says “kocsma dal,” or “pub song.” The video basically consists of two drunk guys humorously beating up everyone in a bar while lampooning some generic European electronica.