Sunday, October 23, 2005

Adventures in language (edition umpteen)

There are a set of Hungarian words which I learned quite early on in my life here, as I heard them on a daily (often hourly) basis. I have only recently noticed their absence from my life, and have come to the conclusion that I probably won’t be reacquainted with them for another 5 years or so. These were the words that Bogi littered her conversation with, constantly and unceasingly for pretty much the duration of her year as a five-year-old. I can probably time the day she stopped at almost exactly her sixth birthday. Unbidden, she just quit and went cold turkey without any kind of help from a support group, 12-step programme, or admitting that there was higher power greater than herself.

These words are the following:
1. pisi
2. kaka
3. szar
4. purc (sp?)
5. moslek
6. ganye (sp?)

For non-Hungarian speakers, the first two you may just about be able to guess the meaning of (though possibly not the pronunciations), the third means more or less the same as the second, though possibly with the rudeness quotient ratcheted up a notch (if 2 is poo, then 3 is maybe crap). The fourth, pronounced poorts, is a slightly milder form of fart – what I would have probably referred to as “guff” when I was of the age when such a thing was the height of comic genius. The last two are a whole new level of 5 year old insult. Moslek is roughly pigswill, which I don’t remember using as a form of cutting edge debate at that time, but would have if I’d thought of it. Ganye, which is some kind of village form of the word in my dictionary Ganéj, is manure or some other form of animal dung.

But now these words are lost to me. In years to come if I should ever have cause to dredge up the Hungarian word for pigswill, it’s quite possible that I won’t be able to remember it, despite it being part of my regular active vocabulary for nigh on a year. Fortunately, going on my experience with English, the number of times I may be called on to use moslek is vanishingly small. Mind you, I have a feeling that these words and their constant overuse are not unique to Bogi, so in five years I’ll get the chance to relive this exciting toilet-word-laden period of my life. Bogi, meanwhile has graduated onto using English words to express her displeasure at events around her. The other day she remarked to me as she was playing a new computer game, “This game is shit”, leaving me torn between uncontrollable laughter, wanting to dissuade her from being quite so graphic in her criticism, and complimenting her on a great sentence (she’s recently graduated from speaking English as vocabulary to speaking it as grammar).

And, finally, having brought up Nagy Imre (the artist) yesterday, I learn that today is the anniversary of the 1956 revolution led by his namesake in Hungary. (I'm not clear whether it's the anniversary of the revolution or its brutal supression)

No comments: