Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Random bits of Hungarian

Although the new Americans have been doing a fantastic job of distracting me from my ambitions of learning Hungarian, I have been being sucked into this language recently in spite of myself. Two recent conversations (you have to imagine them in Hungarian; for authenticity I’ve tried to render my mistakes into English):

1) On my two-minute walk to school, I was stopped in the middle of the street by a sweet-looking elderly lady:

Néni, extremely politely:
Excuse young lady, I don’t live in this neighborhood myself but do you happen to know if there’s a paper store somewhere near here?
Self: Yes, a paper store (in the three seconds it took me to get this out, I contemplated the option of making some excuse and walking away, or breaking out my classic “Sorry, I don’t speak Hungarian,” but in the end I decided to be a good citizen, because after all I can’t avoid it forever. In three seconds, people - I think well under pressure). Yes, is a paper store just there, over there. I don’t know that, how they are calling the, um, the street, but it’s just there, the yellow building behind.
Néni, smiling widely: Oh, you’re not Hungarian! How adorable, how wonderful! Thank you anyway.
Self: No no, but, no I’m not Hungarian, but the shop is there surely, just over there-
Néni: Don’t worry, I know where there’s another one, I just go there. Thank you again, goodbye.
Self: Goodbye, thank you.

2) I’m sitting at home mushing my brain watching episode after episode of Arrested Development. The brain-mushage was probably why I broke my rule of never answering my doorbell unless I’m expecting someone

me, on the intercom: Hello?
Postman, extremely politely: Kezét csókolom! I’m terrible sorry to bother you, but it’s the postman.
me: (I buzzed him in and opened the door. He, after taking one look at me, immediately dropped all formality)
Postman: Hey, hi (szia)! I’ve got a special delivery for Mrs. György S. It’s a money order, that’s always a good thing, huh? Just sign for it here, okay.
me, puzzled that I would be mistaken for Mrs. Anyone: Um, good. That’s, great that’s. But, but I’m not Angelika.
Postman, also puzzled (at least he didn’t say, “you’re not Hungarian, how adorable”): Oh, Mrs. S is Angelika? You mean she’s not here right now?
me: No, she doesn’t live here. She’s just the um, the um...
Postman, quite intuitively: The landlady?
me, pleased at his guesswork: Yes! That’s it!
Postman: No prob. I’ll just write a delivery slip, and you pass it on, ’kay?
me: Okay.
Postman: Here you go, bye.
me: Bye, thanks.

Like I said... despite my best efforts, I am being sucked into this language. I kinda like it...

1 comment:

jrj said...

In for a beer in Budapest?

see you there in May.