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That awful hungarian language

Twelve Commonplace Sentences You Can Make Us Happy With

That awful hungarian language


Maga sokkal jobban tud angolul, mint én magyarul. Your English is far better than my Hungarian.

A mai napig jól emlékszem arra, amikor az önök arany­csapata 6:3-ra legyőzte az angolokat a Wembley-stadionban…

Úgy hallottam, hogy a magyar diákok szokták megnyerni a matematikai diákolimpiát.

I clearly remember when your Golden Team beat England 6 – 3 at Wembley. (This only applies to senior citizens, since it happened in 1953.) Szeretnék Szentendrére elmenni, hogy megnézzem a világhírű Kovács Margit Múzeumot. I want to get to Szentendre, to visit the “world famous” museum devoted to the art of the late Margit Kovács. (Kovács was a ceramist practically unknown abroad.)

I’ve heard that Hungarian students tend to win the Mathe­ matical Olympics. (It used to happen, but recently education experts have been rather preoccupied with declining average standards.) A magyar nők nagyon csinosak. Hungarian women are very pretty. Budapest rengeteget fejlődött, mióta itt jártam. Budapest has developed a lot since I was here.


Mihály Ráday, former television anchorman, landmark preservationist, crusader.


“At Least Adopt a Horse!” – that was our slogan in 1995. We were trying to raise funds to give a facelift to the Városligeti körhinta with a four-page colour brochure. We managed to find some old pictures, so a remake of the almost entirely stripped façade and the dome (which had been pulled down after World War Two) was well underway. We also had plans to reproduce the carved gates which had been replaced by hideous aluminum ones: an act worthy of a prison sentence for the perpetrator. It was the British ambassador at the time, Sir John Birch, who gave the campaign its first push. “My mission in Hungary will be over in six months. Before I leave I would gladly contribute five or six hundred pounds to the restoration of something of value in Budapest,” he had once told me. “If you have an idea, don’t hesitate to tell me.” Not much later I called him and asked if we could meet in the Amusement Park. The ambassador climbed on the körhinta. We had a great ride. I told him that the old name of our amusement park had been the “English Park” until the Communist coup in the late 1940s. Then I made my pitch. With the help of his one million forints, we could

PARK_Budapest_belivek_v065.indd 60-61

start planning the real work, I told him. Thanks to Sir John Birch and all the other generous donors, today the old körhinta is just as beautiful as in 1906. It was he who taught me the charming British word “merry-go-round”. Hungarian anglophiles tend to use the word “carousel”, since that was the title of the American musical version of the celebrated play by Ferenc Molnár. Originally entitled Liliom, it’s a sentimental comedy about the love of a merry-goround operator and a servant girl. Have you inspected the comely frescos of the körhinta? Have you noticed the hand-carved and hand-painted torch-bearing angels, the chariots, the ships and the “magic steeds”? Have you noticed that every single horse has a distinctive face and features and that their leather saddles were made by craftsmen 100 years ago? You haven’t? It’s high time you went to look. Otherwise, if I’m asked what to see in Budapest, I tend to suggest two things not available to the west of us: Turkish baths and Hungarian art nouveau. Visit the Király Baths, Rác Baths or the Rudas. Then off you should go to Pest, where you can admire Ödön Lechner’s yellow ceramic bees heading for their hives on the walls of the former Post Office Savings Bank (which is today’s State Tresury, see Walk Two).

2011.04.20. 15:49:06

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The Celebrated Insider's Guide, upgraded many times, probably the deepest and funnieast and truest portrait of any major European city. With...

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The Celebrated Insider's Guide, upgraded many times, probably the deepest and funnieast and truest portrait of any major European city. With...

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