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« That's Mr. Compositions to you | Main | Only in America »

July 03, 2004


Aidan Kehoe

Visiting Hungary without knowing Magyar is really fun; there's the general alien feeling that you get when you can't talk to anyone at all (that's very rare in Europe, if you've got any English), but the Roman alphabet, the general Westerness of people's customs, and the general familiarity of the place gives the impression that it's you that's hallucinating.

And their English and Deutschyar(?) is excellent for the insight into how people's language instinct (*cough*, sorry, not actually a Pinker fan, but) can work.


Aidan, I agree completely. I have family in Hungary and the time my dad dragged us all off to visit, I felt like I was always just on the verge of understanding what the conversations and TV were going on about. Since "here, go peel these potatoes" is basically the same in every nation (it's "blah blah blah" plus a motion toward a bowl of potatoes with a peeler), I was able to get along fine with Nagymama in the kitchen.

Which reminds me--the "gy" of Magyar is considered a single letter, according to Daddy. At least it represents a single phoneme. I'm afraid I can't offer a better "mashed" compound, though; no such construction seems pronounceable. lol.

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