English has, I’m told, 6 words which come to us from Hungarian. One or two of these words are only used to illustrate Hungarian concepts or things – like goulash for example. The English version of goulash is, I suspect, somewhat un-goulashy, which is reflected in the fact that we have interpreted the word poorly too – the Hungarian pronunciation of gúlyas is in fact goo-yash, since that “ly” combo in Hungarian does not contain any "l" sound. English is not the only language that manages to mangle the word in this way though – Romanian also makes it sound like goulash by spelling it gulaş. Having a quick look on the web, it seems that there is some controversy about what a goulash actually is. Here is one bloke's opinion, for example.
The next one on our list of 6, is another food. Paprika. Now we tend to use it to describe the powdered pepper used to flavour dishes (such as the goulash for example), but in Hungarian it is used for fresh peppers too. The powder is called piros paprika (red paprika) which may leave you wondering what a red fresh pepper would be called. This is solved by the fact that Hungary and Hungarian speaking areas have a bewildering array of peppers, such that “red pepper” would not be a very helpful description anyway. There is the round red pepper for example, which is known as the paradicsom parika – the tomato pepper, and the long one, the not quite as long one, the fatter one, and many others beside. I usually just point.
There are a couple of military ones – hussar and sabre. Not quite sure how they are spelled and pronounced in Hungarian, but I presume hussar is more like huszar. Why are hussars so often gay, by the way? I have no idea. You’d think being cavalry soldiers, they’d pretty much be cannon fodder, and not especially gay at all. But you never hear of the glum hussar do you?
Two left, and the first is coach. Not coach in the sense of trainer, but in the sense of vehicle. Apparently coaches (horse drawn ones I’m guessing) originated in the Hungarian town of Kocs (pronounced fairly similarly to coach). Thus in Hungarian a coach (and these days a car) is known as a kocsi (from Kocs), and a driver/coachman as Kocsis (hence Erika’s family name, and that of the ever-so-slightly more famous Kocsis, Sandor of the Magnificent Magyar 1950s football team).
Finally, biro. The humble ball point pen, named after its inventor Laszlo Biro, or more properly, Bíró László. Another Hungarian word we manage to mispronounce, since it should be more like beer-o. And that’s about it, as far as I know. If you know of any others, please let me know.
As far as I know there are no specifically Romanian words in English, but since Romanian is derived from Latin, there are an awful lot of words that exist in both languages.
Podcast 98: The Albums You Can’t Be Without
19 hours ago