Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Beyond language

When I used the website, Babylon, to translate the phrase above into Hungarian, it came out as Túl nyelv. But when I pasted that phrase into the Hungarian-to-English form, it came back as too language.

And really, 'too language' is about how I feel when I try to learn (or even hear and repeat) almost anything in the subtle sounds of Hungarian. To my western ear, it sounds like a series of swishes and other vocalizations that are impossible for my mouth to wrap itself around.

When I travel, I try to learn enough of a language to at least say thank you and hello. But when I travelled in Hungary, I was hard-pressed to acquire even that much. I found myself pretty well stuck with English only.

This summer, friends from Hungary have been visiting nearby. Yesterday, we took them on an excursion to the city. Five-year-old Hunor proved that English isn’t always necessary to enjoy an outing with a couple of Canadians. Science World with its many interactive attractions kept him (and the rest of us) happily occupied for the entire two hours we’d plugged the parking meter for. Who ever said science wasn’t any fun?


MCDFB said...

man, i feel that way sometimes with Greek. big, mouth-filling, six-syllable words with about 14 consonants all in a row, unencumbered by vowels...


hg said...

Wow, yes, I'll bet the Greek is a mouthful. With even a different alphabet, what an accomplishment to learn any of it!
I remember when we were driving through Hungary -- how many of the place names had so many letters in them, the roadside signboards looked bigger than the ones we're used to. After all, a place like 'Vancouver' is only a measly 9 letters. That would be just a start-up on some of the Hungarian names.