My friend Olga taught me about Hungarian cursing when I was writing In the Context of Love. As the Hungarian heartthrob Joe tells young Angelica (referring to his immigrant father), “Hungarians curse better than anyone else. No one bothers sending anyone to hell. That’s too gentle. They say, ‘May God’s horse put his dick up your ass.’ They start out with stinky and whoring and end up with disgusting body parts.”
That Hungarians have a unique way of using words was confirmed by The Funniest Hungarian Sayings. I discovered this post while browsing for all things Hungarian on Pinterest, which I admit is how I procrastinate when I should be working on my new novel. (shh!)
Hungarians don’t “jump for joy.” They say they are “as happy as a monkey about its tail” (Örül, mint majom a farkának).
Hungarians don’t ask little children “Why are you crying?” They ask “Why are you giving drinks to the mice?” (Miért itatod az egereket?) I suppose this is an attempt to make the little child smile. I bet it wouldn’t work in baseball.
Hungarians don’t say “It’s not worth the effort.” They say “It’s worth as much as a kiss to a dead person” (Annyit ér, mint halottnak a csók). The woman in the middle looks as if she’d rather kiss a dead person than either of those guys.
Hungarians don’t say he’s “good-hearted.” They say “you can spread him on bread” (Kenyérre lehet kenni). But is he as good as Nutella on toast?
Hungarians don’t say “Once a thief, always a thief.” They say “You can’t make bacon out of a dog” (Kutyaból nem lesz szalonna). That pooch does not look happy as bacon.
Hungarians don’t say “It’s not as good as you think.” They say “The fence is not made from sausage” (Nem kolbászból van a kerítés). It sounds funny, but I don’t get it. Would a fence made of sausage be a good thing?
On the same website, I also discovered How to Piss off a Hungarian, which may come in handy in my new book.
Does your family have any sayings or unique ways of cursing? My heritage is Finnish, and apparently, like the Hungarians, many of their curses have pagan roots and involve excretions or sexual organs or functions. I remember my mother, muttering “Paska, paska, paska” when she was angry, which translates to shit, shit, shit. By the way, Finnish and Hungarian belong to the same linguistic family and there are some astonishingly close similarities. That doesn’t mean they can understand each other, however.
Linda K. Sienkiewicz is the author of the award-winning novel In the Context of Love, a story about one woman’s need to tell her truth without shame.
2017 New Apple Book Awards Official Selection
2016 Sarton Women’s Fiction Finalist
2016 Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist
2016 Readers’ Favorite Finalist
2016 USA Book News Best Book Finalist
“…at once a love story, a cautionary tale, and an inspirational journey.” ~ Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of National Book Award Finalist, American Salvage, and critically acclaimed Once Upon a River,and Mothers, Tell Your Daughters