Friday, June 08, 2007

Final Hungarian thoughts

I'm out of Budapest now, having taken a train to Romania. More on that in another post.

I'm not sure what it is that I like about Budapest, but I would say that I like it. It has many things that I dislike in a city. It's often dirty, there's graffiti everywhere (I'm Canadian, I expect my cities to be clean). It's poor - I've seen more people sleeping on the streets in Budapest than anywhere else - on main streets as well. So I can't explain even to myself what I like about it. It would be like trying to explain why I like chocolate or milk.

Hungarian is a very tricky language. I was told that they have "around" 46 letters, because double consonants and double-double consonants are considered letters. So I only managed to learn the barest number of words. I try to learn "hello", "goodbye", "please", "thank-you", and "sorry/excuse me" in the language of a country I visit, as I figure they're essentials. In Hungarian I learned only "please" - kerem (spelling not correct) - and "thank-you" - kozonom - and that was only after having a Hungarian teach me how to pronounce them. I figured out a few other words that were less useful from signs: sugar is "cukor", sale seems to be something like "akcio", and then there was "szex" on signs with silhouettes of women near the train station, so I'm sure you can figure out what that means.

I must say that, despite the bother they may have caused many people at the time, I'm glad the Romans spread themselves so far over Europe. Because it means that, even in difficult languages like Hungarian, there are words that I can figure out. "Muzeum" - I can figure that out. Or "politizik", or however it was spelled - I can tell that's politics. Those Latin-based words have been my friends in many languages. "Possible reservation train..." and then city name can get you pretty far in any country so long as you pronounce the words with an accent that is similar to the locals.

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