Monday, September 13, 2010

Small coincidences

Couple of little coincidences happened this week. Firstly I was sitting in the garden reading William Blacker's "Along the Enchanted Way" (review will follow later this week), when he describes how in Maramures (where he lived in a village) peasants often speak to their horses in German (rather than Romanian). The example he gave was zurück when they want the horses to go backwards. About half an hour later, a guy from the village shows up to take away some construction rubbish (rubble, etc) from the mess that constitutes our garden at the moment. He has a horse and cart to do this job, and lo and behold but as he tries to persuade the horse to go back and take the cart closer to the pile, there it is... "zurück". So Hungarians speak German to horses too.

Then on Saturday night we watched Katalin Varga, a film that was made not far from here a couple of years ago by a British director, with local actors (also a review to follow). As I stood in the Orange shop to pay my phone bill, who should stand behind me in the line but the guy who plays Gergely, a fairly important character in the film (I can't really say much more for fear of giving too much away). And then after that I come to the office and there sitting next to me is another guy who was in the film playing one of the police.

It's a fascinating life I lead, and no mistake


E.B. said...

Eh, it seems the Saxons were the region's horse-whisperers, equestrian trainers and so on. It's only natural that Romanians and Hungarians alike borrowed that word from them.

Mind you, not any given horse is able to push backwards. In Bistriţa county, people went to the fair, took a look at the fine horses there and sometimes used to say: "Wow, this one is an expensive horse, because he can zurickate!" - anyway, that's what my father told us.

Transylvanian said...

Well, you guys are partially correct, but draw the wrong conclusions!
It' like saying that the Romanian language is a Slavic language, and give the example the word for "yes", the Slavic "da".
But the word for "no", the "nu" is Latin in origin...

The hole thing is more complex, and generalizing, isolated elements, is misleading.

In Transylvania are in use only 2 "foreign" words, in the horse "business".

1 -The bastardized version of the German word for backward:
-The Romanians use "turic".
-The Hungarians generally use "curik hatra" or sometimes just "curik" like the Romanians.
It's not the corect German word, but a derivative word used by Romanians and Hungarians.

2- A word used to embolden the horse:
- "cia" in Romanian, and "csia" in Hungarian.
It's actually a correct version of the original word, used by many different nationalities in the Asian steppe (Mongols, Uighurs, etc).

And as a final note, i do not understand your surprise!
Transylvania was ruled for approximately 500 years by the Habsburg empire, and in the past a very significant Germanic population was present here (Saxons, Swabs, Austrians, Germans)...

On the other hand, The Romanians and Hungarians speak in English whit all the modern gadgets (telephone, radio, television, etc).

How about the Scots, Irish and Welsh, speaking in English whit the horses?
Is it surprising?!

Central and Eastern Europe was dominated for centuries by the Austrians (Habsburg empire), and the British isles had a very similar domination (English).

There is nothing unusual or surprising about the language transfer from a dominating nation to other subservient nations!

Uncle G. said...

It's a wise thing to give the commands in another language. So the horse won't start jumping around during a conversation the neighbour.

Uncle G. said...

It's a wise thing to give the commands in another language. So the horse won't start jumping around during a conversation WITH the neighbour.