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12 weird Hungarian expressions and how to use them

The Hungarian language might sound like to some as an Elvish  dialect from the Lord of the Rings, but even for us, Hungarians, there are some language mysteries we are still trying to investigate, with not much luck. In some of these sayings, there might be no logic at all, but as they have been told and handed over in these forms since a long way back from father to son, from mother to daughter, they became part of our traditions. One thing for sure: any Hungarian will be greatly impressed by your skills, if you tend to learn a few by heart!

  • Instead of “It’s not as good as you think”, we say “The fence is not made from sausage” (Nem kolbászból van a kerítés).
  • Instead of “It’s not worth the effort”, we say “It’s worth as much as a kiss to a dead person” (Annyit ér, mint halottnak a csók).
  • We don’t “jump for joy”, we are “as happy as a monkey about its tail” (Örül, mint majom a farkának).
  • We won’t say “Once a thief, always a thief”, we rather say “You can’t make bacon out of a dog” (Kutyából nem lesz szalonna).
  • We don’t say “Cool!”, we rather say “Perfectly good!” (Tök jó!), “Fat!” (Zsir!), or “King!” (Király!)
  • Instead of  saying “It’s all Greek to me”,we use “It’s Chinese for me” (Ez nekem kínai).
  • We don’t use  “When pigs fly!”, we rather say “When red snow falls!” (Majd ha piros hó esik!)
  • Well we don’t ask upset children  a simple “Why are you crying?”, question, we rather ask “Why are you giving drinks to the mice?” (Miért itatod az egereket?)
  • In Hungarian you don’t say “Get well!” when someone’s broke an arm or a leg, you say ‘A dog’s broken bone will soon be healed’, meaning the wound we’re talking about will soon be healed. (Ebcsont beforr )
  • If “someone is talking rubbish” we rather use the”‘Foolish wind blows out of a foolish hole” expression meaning a foolish person can only say foolish things; or a person can only say things that are according to their character/beliefs. (Bolond lyukból bolond szél fúj.)
  • If we “feel low/feeling  very bad”we use “My mood is below the bottom/ass of a frog’, (A hangulatom a béka feneke/segge alatt van)
  • The Hungarian equivalent of ‘curiosity killed the cat’ means that ‘if you are too curious, you’ll get old quickly’ in metaphrase which could be a rare pairing since curiosity is not a bad feature by all means. (Aki kíváncsi, hamar megöregszik.)

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