“Canada will not send its refugees to Miskolc” says the Hungarian mayor

The city of Miskolc gets a lot of coverage nowadays in the Hungarian media. At the center of the often swirling controversy is the Fidesz mayor of the city, Ákos Kriza. With the 2010 municipal elections the political map of this industrial city changed radically. Until then the socialists had always been in the majority on the city council and the mayor was also a socialist. Today Fidesz councilmen are in the great  majority and they are reinforced by three Jobbik members.

How successful is the new mayor of Miskolc? I found an article from the summer of 2012 in which one of the MSZP councilmen claimed that Ákos Kriza is such a failure that Viktor Orbán himself decided that at the next election Kriza will be dropped as a mayoral candidate and instead will be promised a seat in parliament. Well, I thought, this was probably only wishful thinking on the part of the MSZP councilman. But just today I discovered in the print edition of Magyar Narancs (January 17,  pp.13-15) that the new mayor of Miskolc, imitating his party’s leader, decided not to continue projects that were already in progress and instead started everything from scratch. As a result, none of the promised projects has been completed. Moreover, Kriza seems to be promoting businesses that can be linked to Jobbik. At least this is what a local online paper (Északi Hirnök) claims.

Kriza is not exactly a common name, and I immediately began wondering whether our Kriza has anything to do with the famous János Kriza (1811-1875), the Unitarian bishop and folklorist who collected Transylvanian Hungarian folk tales. Indeed, Ákos Kriza claims to be a descendant of or at least related to János Kriza. Ákos Kriza was born in Oradea/Nagyvárad (1965) and became a physician after finishing medical school in Târgu Mureş/Marosvásárhely. He moved to Hungary shortly after graduation and has been living in Miskolc since 1990. According to his political opponents, since his election as mayor he has been favoring his old friends and acquaintances from Transylvania and from the Partium, the region around Oradea.

János Kriza was obviously not a stupid man. Among his skills, he spoke German, French, and English and had a reading knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, which he needed for his theological studies. So, I don’t know what he would think of his modern-day relative’s bungling. Ákos Kriza’s behavior shows him to be ignorant of the most basic rules of democracy and decency.

So, what happened that thrust Kriza into the limelight again? There is a new, controversial Canadian piece of legislation called “Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act” that became law on December 12, 2012. The law made immigration policies more stringent for political refugees. Up until now it took a fairly long time to decide on the eligibility of a political asylum seeker. The current Canadian government deemed this process too costly. Moreover, the Canadians consider Hungary a free country. No accounts of discrimination against the Hungarian Roma, their poverty, or even their systematic murder could move Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism. Canada will speedily expel hundreds if not thousands of Roma asylum seekers.

A few days ago the Canadian government decided to advertise the new immigration policies in the city of Miskolc because about 40% of the Hungarian Roma political asylum seekers came from there or from the city’s environs. According to the Christian Science Monitorthe Canadian government spent $13,000 on billboards as well as on television and radio ads warning about the changed immigration policies and about the likelihood of the speedy return of the asylum seekers. Kriza became enraged. He objected to the Canadian campaign in his city. Why Miskolc? The posters appeared on the streets on January 15, and Kriza immediately sent a letter to Tamara Guttman, Canada’s ambassador to Hungary. Kriza later admitted that “it was a bit strongly worded.”

kanadai plakat

Canadian poster informing Romas of the restrictions and mentioning the speedy return of those who are not eligible for political asylum

Kriza first objected to the fact that “the Canadian Embassy didn’t inform the city” of their impending campaign. Kriza also claimed that when Kenney visited Miskolc last October, the Canadian minister said nothing about “sending home [the Roma] more speedily.” Kriza claimed that “those who sought asylum have no right to return to Miskolc.” For good measure he told the ambassador that he “finds the steps taken by Canada offensive and undesirable. In addition, your course of action is unacceptable.” To the Hungarian media Kriza announced that “Canada will not send its refugees to Miskolc.” He considered the Canadian campaign “intimidation” of his city.

Immediately after Kriza’s outburst several national and local papers inquired on what basis Kriza wants to prevent the returning Roma from going back to their original houses and apartments. The next day Kriza received the Canadian ambassador’s letter, and the mercurial mayor calmed down somewhat and behaved in a  less objectionable way when he was interviewed on “Az Este,”  an evening program on MTV. However, he obviously didn’t give up his plan to get rid of the returning Roma. A couple of days after his appearance on national television Kriza announced that he will “keep the criminal elements out of Miskolc by checking whether any of the people who left for Canada also took advantage of social assistance from the city or the central government.” He claimed that he had already found five people who were ineligible and who thereby committed a crime. He got in touch with the police. He will do everything to prevent “these criminals from settling in the city. Moreover, criminals currently residing in Miskolc will be driven out by the authorities.” He even threatened returning Roma parents that the authorities would take their children away and place them under state supervision.

Today Népszava claimed that Kriza’s threats can be considered “harassment.”  The Hungarian Helsinki Commission also took notice and pointed out that Kriza’s threats and his intention to restrict the free movement of the returning Romas are in direct contravention of Hungarian and international law. In addition, NEKI (Nemzeti és Etnikai Kisebbségi Jogvédő Iroda) argued that “the words of the mayor of Miskolc actually support the merits of the requests for political asylum.”

I do hope that Kriza’s words get to Ottawa. But even if they do, the Canadians most likely will not have the “pleasure” of reading the comments from some of the peace-loving people from Miskolc. They would most likely be shocked. Perhaps then the Canadian officials would lend a more sympathetic ear to the plight of the Hungarian Roma.

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104 comments

  1. I do have a bias against criminals but “criminals” as the word is solely defined as opposed to “gypsy” or “Jewish” or “socialist” or even “white, far-right, Hungarian nazi scum” criminals.

    Kriza is typical of the opportunist, sub-normal mentalist that Fidesz attracts in the east and his views are typical of the wafer-thin difference between their supposed respectable social conservativism and of the fascist filth propagated by Jobbik.

    Just needs one of the NGOs to deconstruct his statements and take the Orbanist scumbag through the courts for hate-speech. 100% sure they won’t win the case in Orbanistan itself but play their cards right and Fidesz will once again be dragged through the manure by the international media.

  2. LwiiH :

    Some1 :
    When I arrived to Canada in 1988, all the Hungarian immigrants I meet were non-Romas. They were stealing credit cards, they were selling drugs, they did not work, they were living on welfare. Many of them moved back to Hungary after a while. Non of them were Roma, so I guess it is the Hungarian thousand year history, the “above all” attitude that is a fact of Hungarian history what made them do it. Are you Hungarian? Yes, so that explains your attitude too. Maybe yo should befriend Orban. Oh, that will not happen, I forgot that you think that he is Roma.

    Humm, I guess you got caught up in the wrong crowd because all the Hungarians I know in Canada are bright, hardworking and successful. I only know of one case involving a crooked Hungarian in Canada. He thought that all the tricks that might work here would protect him there. Fortunately he was wrong. I never attributed his mis-steps to being Hungarian, he’s just a crook plain and simple.

    I should of stated “new Canadians”. THey were 18-26 years old kids. There were an older man also who I came across. He was trying to recruit Hungarian girls for sex with him. He offered here and there $100. I also meet a Hungarian contractor/real estate person. He had some deal with the Welcome House. THe Welcome House at the time had social workers who spoke many different languages and helped with settling newcomers. THe lady who worked there put newly arrived Hungarians in touch with the Hungarian contractor. He housed them in building he purchased in awful shape, collected the max money the government paid for housing to new immigrants, and paid them also to work under the table, below minimum wage as construction workers.
    Of course since I have meet many good Hungarian here. I love the Hungarian butcher, and the people who work there. My best friend is the child of a Hungarian father and a Jamaican mother. THe father is also very nice.
    My point had to do with the assumption that all gypsies are crooks, and I only tried to illustrate that based on the prejudice we can easily say that all Hungarians are crooks. Of course I do not think it is true. I would not contribute to this board if I would think that, would I?

  3. The Roma “problem” seems to be handled in two different ways in Hungary: either you pretend that there is no problem to address, then you get called a liberal, and you call anyone who dares to mention them racist. Or you are a gypsy-hater, you think they are genetically prone to not working and crime, and then you need to be silenced. Both are wrong.

    If you look at the statistics, there are certain types of crime that are more often committed by Roma than others. Crimes like hen-theft, breaking into your shed and stealing all the cauliflowers from your garden. (Then there are types of crimes that are characteristically not committed by Roma, like billion forints worth of tax fraud.)
    The police often positively discriminate against the Roma, they don’t get arrested and charged, nobody asks for their tickets on the train or tram etc. This WILL infuriate the others. Or if Romas break into your property and start living in there, most people don’t know that you need to get a court order to evacuate them, no point going to the police or to the mayor etc., so they feel they are helpless against these crimes. These people also need help to feel safe and to live in a fair society.
    And then there is the problem of Roma unemployment – a high percentage of them is illiterate, so to have a chance to be employed, many of them need to be attracted to adult education first.
    These are just a few examples of how much could be and should be done in this area. Half of the society hating them and the other half hating that half back for hating them will not work. You need to get over the tabloid horror, and have fair and civilized, but determined policies, “based on research and evidence to tackle the issue” (I know it sounds awful management talk, but I think it is important here because that’s what is lacking.) If you don’t, the tensions will grow and sudden outbursts of fury by people like Bayer will be applauded. And then we are standing here, finger in mouth, wondering how on earth things have got this far.

  4. It’s interesting what some of you have been writing here about Transylvanian Hungarian immigrants. To be honest, I don’t think I can even recognize them unless they tell me where they are from. There are a few words that they use differently (“s” instead of “e’s”, “leany” instead of “lany”), but some Hungarian-born Hungarians also pick them up from them, so I don’t really register them as that unusual. I certainly can’t generalize that they would be more boorish or more anything than the others.
    But it is always very interesting to read about how they perceive themselves and us!

  5. cheshire cat :
    It’s interesting what some of you have been writing here about Transylvanian Hungarian immigrants. To be honest, I don’t think I can even recognize them unless they tell me where they are from. There are a few words that they use differently (“s” instead of “e’s”, “leany” instead of “lany”), but some Hungarian-born Hungarians also pick them up from them, so I don’t really register them as that unusual. I certainly can’t generalize that they would be more boorish or more anything than the others.
    But it is always very interesting to read about how they perceive themselves and us!

    My wife claims she can tell Transylvanian Hungarians straightaway, as they speak “proper Hungarian”.

  6. petofi :

    Paul :
    “I am sorry petofi, but in the past you have posted a lot of comments that were as anti-roma as Fidesz can get”
    Hear, hear. There is no place for racism – of any kind – on HS.

    God forbid that we should ever strongly criticize the roma! Spare me.
    But you guys have given me a laugh suggesting that I’m Fidesz-like. Yes, I voted for them–thanks to MSZP–but since then I’ve castigated them as consistently as anyone. (But typical honkeyish allusion, Some1..)

    Petofi – you don’t seem to understand the term ‘racism’. You are racist because you class the people you complain about by their race. This is the whole point of racism – instead of judging people by what they are or do as individuals, you lump them altogether under the heading of their race, and judge them purely by that label – Roma = bad.

    Were I to do the same with whites, blacks or Jews, I don’t think you’d have any problem identifying me as a racist. It’s exactly the same with Roma.

  7. cheshire cat :
    It’s interesting what some of you have been writing here about Transylvanian Hungarian immigrants. To be honest, I don’t think I can even recognize them unless they tell me where they are from. There are a few words that they use differently (“s” instead of “e’s”, “leany” instead of “lany”), but some Hungarian-born Hungarians also pick them up from them, so I don’t really register them as that unusual. I certainly can’t generalize that they would be more boorish or more anything than the others.
    But it is always very interesting to read about how they perceive themselves and us!

    Maybe they are ‘code-switching’ when they talk to you. There are lots of colloquial words, sometimes borrowed from Romanian, sometimes not.

    e.g. ‘Hull a hó’ rather than ‘esik a hó’; punga (= táska); murok = (sárgarépa); ‘jöjj’ rather than
    ‘jössz’.

    My wife says that the Székely also have a slightly different code again to the Transylvanians of the Mezőség or the Kalotaszeg.

  8. A little OT, but on the subject of Transylvanian Hungarians – there was a report from Romania on the radio this morning and the speaker claimed that real wages had fallen there by 25%! He also said there was a mass exodus going on and that many people’s lives were only possible because of the money relatives working abroad send home.

    There wasn’t the mass movement of people to Hungary that many expected in the early 90s, but this made me wonder it that transfer of population might start now? It’s going to give Orbán a huge problem if it does – he can hardly start trying to control ‘immigration’ after making such a fuss about these people being ‘real Hungarians’. But there’s absolutely no way the Hungarian economy (or society*) could cope with a large influx of Romanian Hungarians, especially as fully fledged citizens (i.e. all able to claim, unemployment benefit, pensions, etc).

    (*In the early 90s, my in-laws moved from Ungvár to Debrecen, and were generally regarded as undesirables, and probably troublemakers and thieves (even when they were selling smuggled cheap petrol to the locals to help build their house!). It took them many years to be accepted as ‘proper’ Hungarians and some still regard them with suspicion, even today – especially now they have an English son-in-law!)

  9. @Bowen “Maybe they are ‘code-switching’ when they talk to you. There are lots of colloquial words, sometimes borrowed from Romanian, sometimes not.
    e.g. ‘Hull a hó’ rather than ‘esik a hó’”

    Well, in this case I must be a Transylvanian 😀 Lately I have been encountering this “esik a hó” phrase that sounds wrong to me. As far as I’m concerned rain “esik” and snow “hull.” I guess, using the same verb for both is one of the fairly recent developments in Hungarian we have been talking about.

    But I will approach the question from a different point of view to show that the falling of rain and snow in Hungarian is not the same “falling.” Let’s say that we sit around in the room and I go to the window and say “esik.” I bet that everybody will immediately know who didn’t even notice yet that indeed it is raining. But in case of a snowfall I can’t say “esik” but I must say “havazik.”

  10. Just asked my wife about it:

    In her opinion a simple person will say esik a hó – while in literature you’ll surely read hull a hó …

    I had been wondering too why there is no word like snowing or the German “schneien” in Hungarian – well it is a completely different language with different rules after all.

    We often laugh/smile together when the other makes some typical mistake in trying to translate or construct something following the other language’s rules …

    PS and OT:

    It’s become really cold at the Balaton so I just lighted or fireplace aka kandaló – the sight of burning wood is really calming …

    Everybody have a wonderful weekend!

  11. If you went to kindergarten in the sixties you would know this:

    “Esik a ho, fingik a lo,
    Seggen csuszik Telapo!”

    “The snow is falling, the horse is farting,
    Santa on his ass is sliding!”

  12. Bowen :
    Maybe they are ‘code-switching’ when they talk to you. There are lots of colloquial words, sometimes borrowed from Romanian, sometimes not.
    e.g. ‘Hull a hó’ rather than ‘esik a hó’; punga (= táska); murok = (sárgarépa); ‘jöjj’ rather than
    ‘jössz’.
    My wife says that the Székely also have a slightly different code again to the Transylvanians of the Mezőség or the Kalotaszeg.

    It is absolutely true. Different customs, different slangs, different music and different dances.
    THe local music collections were taken up by Bartok and Kodaly, and the dance collections were extremely well portrayed and collected by Ference Novak.
    Kaoltaszegi Tancok: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lR2ALPaB_Q

  13. @Wolfi: “I had been wondering too why there is no word like snowing or the German “schneien” in Hungarian – well it is a completely different language with different rules after all.”

    But there is: “havazik.” It’s snowing.

  14. Székelyföld is like Tyrol in the sense of their individual history, laguage and considering themselves apart from the Hungarians. Also it is kind of a shame that Hungarians in general look down on vidéki/regional dialects, accents (though we don’t have dialects in the same way as Germans do, except for the Csángós) as opposed to regional pride the German/Austrians/Swiss Germans have in their dialect.

  15. Now after the fact – it’s obvious …

    Sorry for my stupidity. Sigh, I think I shouldn’t try to learn and understand Hungarian at my age …

  16. Paul :

    My wife claims she can tell Transylvanian Hungarians straightaway, as they speak “proper Hungarian”.

    Well, there are the verbs that end in “ik” in third person singular (ikes ige in Hungarian). They are supposed to be conjugated differently from the other verbs, I think nowadays only Transylvanians do it “correctly”. I put correctly in quotation marks, because supposedly the Hungarian Academy gave its blessing on the “improper” method too.

  17. Bowen :

    cheshire cat :
    It’s interesting what some of you have been writing here about Transylvanian Hungarian immigrants. To be honest, I don’t think I can even recognize them unless they tell me where they are from. There are a few words that they use differently (“s” instead of “e’s”, “leany” instead of “lany”), but some Hungarian-born Hungarians also pick them up from them, so I don’t really register them as that unusual. I certainly can’t generalize that they would be more boorish or more anything than the others.
    But it is always very interesting to read about how they perceive themselves and us!

    Maybe they are ‘code-switching’ when they talk to you. There are lots of colloquial words, sometimes borrowed from Romanian, sometimes not.
    e.g. ‘Hull a hó’ rather than ‘esik a hó’; punga (= táska); murok = (sárgarépa); ‘jöjj’ rather than
    ‘jössz’.
    My wife says that the Székely also have a slightly different code again to the Transylvanians of the Mezőség or the Kalotaszeg.

    Punga is actually a Romanian word, it means bag (as in plastic bag).

  18. Paul :
    My wife claims she can tell Transylvanian Hungarians straightaway, as they speak “proper Hungarian”.

    As far as I know the most obvious difference (apart from certain words) is pronunciation: Transylvanians speak an “older” version of Hungarian with more vowels than mainland speakers nowadays use. There is (at least) one extra vowel between e and é and between a and á respectively. Not that I can hear it myself, but Hungarians can hear the difference.

  19. wolfi :
    I had been wondering too why there is no word like snowing or the German “schneien” in Hungarian – well it is a completely different language with different rules after all.

    But there is one, havazik, obviously it is only used in third person singular.

  20. “They are supposed to be conjugated differently from the other verbs, I think nowadays only Transylvanians do it “correctly”.”

    Which way is the one you call correct? is it the eszem / eszek problem?

  21. cheshire cat :

    “They are supposed to be conjugated differently from the other verbs, I think nowadays only Transylvanians do it “correctly”.”

    Which way is the one you call correct? is it the eszem / eszek problem?

    cheshire cat :

    “They are supposed to be conjugated differently from the other verbs, I think nowadays only Transylvanians do it “correctly”.”

    Which way is the one you call correct? is it the eszem / eszek problem?

    Yes, I think that is what GDFxx is thinking of.

  22. It’s always amused and saddened me that grammar, which should be the understanding of how the natural rules of a language works, becomes instead a rigid system of outside control over how a language ought to work (which ultimately fails, anyway, as language is an entirely organic, natural construct).

    English in the UK has a similar past to Hungarian, in that it was regarded as a peasant language, not fit for use by the intellectuals and the elite (who spoke/wrote Latin and French). But even when it was eventually recognised as the natural language of the English (there being a clue in the name!) it was still seen as too ‘non-literary’, so it was deliberately ‘improved’ by the artificial creation of thousands of pseudo-Latin and Greek words and the imposition of a Latin based grammar.

    And we are still suffering from both today. A well known example is the infamous ‘split infinitive’ (“to boldly go” being the best known example – it ‘should’ be “to go boldly”) – not allowed in Latin, but perfectly natural in English.

    It says a lot about the British attitude towards such things that our top schools were (and still are in places) called ‘grammar’ schools. (Although, ironically, the one I attended in the late 60s no longer taught grammar!)

  23. GDFxx

    “eszem-eszek”

    Na…! 🙂
    Here we go.

    first person singular ending of -ik verbs, indefinite conjugation

    eszem valamit / eszek valamit
    lezuhanyozom / lezuhanyozok
    lakom / lakok

    Originally, the correct and logical ending was -ok-ek-ok (two dots above the second o), like in all other verb types. Until some snobs decided at the end of the 19th century (or later) that they want to use the definite ending om-em-om instead.
    In indefinite context.
    As snobbery spread, and eventually it was decided that om-em-om is CORRECT!
    I hardly know anyone who would always use om-em-om in all ik verbs. Lakom is more common than lakok, zuhanyozok is more common than zuhanyozom.
    ??

    It’s OK for us, but what do you say to foreign learners of Hungarian?
    Sticking to ok-ek-ok is the simplest solution because then there is no need to know whether the verb iks or not, just use it as with any other verbs. Maybe tell foreigners of the few where it would be really strange to use ok ek ok.
    Or do you tell them ok ek ok is wrong, and open a new fascinating chapter in the already complicated world of Hungarian verbs (=making it even more difficult)?

    What do the others think? And non-native speakers, what do you do?
    And what do Transylvanians use, om em om?
    Is ok ek ok low-class in any situation?

    I’m genuinely curious.

  24. “Sigh, I think I shouldn’t try to learn and understand Hungarian at my age …”

    Wolfi – it’s that’s the level you are at, then you have done very well!
    (I wish I could speak German…)

    But if you watched the Micimacko song, be careful, the “ho’zik” version doesn’t exist! It’s Winnie-the-Pooh talk. 🙂

  25. About the “ikes ige”: I wasn’t familiar with the history of it. But I clearly remember how my Hungarian grammar teacher in elementary school would be in shock if any of the children used the wrong version. I left the area many years ago and I am aware of the fact that the language is a live structure, changes continuously. I guess those of us, who have been living in English or German or Swedish or who knows what language-speaking areas for many years are stuck with the version we spoke when we left.

    In any case, many years ago only the uneducated used these verbs the “wrong” way in Transylvania.

  26. Cheshire cat, my (admittedly not too ambitious) approach is to use what appears reasonable in a given situation, and hope that the native speakers will exercise some leniency. I am actually glad to read that it is not as “logical” as it is often presented in the books.

  27. Now I’m more confused than before:

    It’s probably (hidden) somewhere in my grammar book …

    Köszönöm

    Kérem, egy sör

    Nem kérek

    Hope that’s ok with the experts here ?

  28. wolfi :
    Now I’m more confused than before:
    It’s probably (hidden) somewhere in my grammar book …
    Köszönöm
    Kérem, egy sör
    Nem kérek
    Hope that’s ok with the experts here ?

    Kerek and kerem are two different modes of the verb, this werb is not “ikes” (you never say kerik). Kerem really means please in that form (I assume it comes from the Hungarian form of I beg your pardon, or so). But if you say “azt kerem”, than it means “I want that”. “Kerek szepen” means (in a polite way, mainly used by children) “I would like [some]”. The form “Kerem” is a definite request for something (like “azt kerem”). I hope I confused everyone completely now.

    By the way, “koszonom” means thank you, but the the same verb verb “koszonni” (like “koszonok valakinek”) means greeting someone. The verb with the same infinitive has two different meanings ;-)).

  29. gdfxx and what do YOU mean by the “wrong” way?
    eszem or eszek?

    wolfi

    “it’s probably (hidden) somewhere in my grammar book …
    Köszönöm
    Kérem, egy sör
    Nem kérek”

    Here we are talking about a special group of verbs that end in “-ik” for he and she. Eszik, iszik, alszik, lakik stb. For indefinite “I” ending, you would use them as eszek (like ke’rek, besze’lek) but something went wrong along the centuries, and people sometimes prefer to use the definite eszem (like ke’rem, besze’lem) for the indefinite “I” as well. But only if the verb is an “-ik” verb. You will find it under the indefinite conjugation or as “ikes ige” -(ik verbs).

    Kerek egy sort. – indefinite because of “egy”
    Kerem azt. – definite, because of the definite object

  30. But Wolfi, I wouldn’t worry about it: if WE can’t agree, then surely both are correct.
    Use them as normal verbs.
    So there! 😀

    I am just interested if any foreign speakers were taught something specific about them. It varies according to language books, teachers etc.

  31. Kirsten :
    Cheshire cat, my (admittedly not too ambitious) approach is to use what appears reasonable in a given situation, and hope that the native speakers will exercise some leniency. I am actually glad to read that it is not as “logical” as it is often presented in the books.

    Kirsten, you are right, native speakers will be generous – this definite / indefinite stuff is one of the most difficult things (well, verb forms in general, like the imperative). There is logic in it most of the time, especially if you are a linguist and you can detect it! It’s better to speak and make some mistakes, than worry about all the rules and not speak.

  32. Cheshire cat, my books will probably not answer your question. They contain a list of how to use kerem or kerek, similar to what you wrote, but the problem is that for me Wolfi’s Kerem egy sort (I do not have the proper sign here on the phone) already meant the same as azt. To foreigners you need to convey this first that when you want a beer this is ‘indefinite’ although you already believe that you ask for azt = a beer. 🙂 Until today I was not aware of that people might actually say eszek instead of eszem.

  33. Kirsten :
    Until today I was not aware of that people might actually say eszek instead of eszem.

    You have to be careful with this, it doesn’t always work. For example you never say “eszek a szivedet” but you do say “eszem a szivedet”, in other words in accusative case referring to one concrete object – like I eat THE bread (eszem a kenyeret) this (an many other verbs) end in “m” instead of “k” (which is used when it does not refer to one concrete object – like I eat bread – kenyeret eszek). Well, purists (or Transylvanians) always use the m ;-).

  34. OK! I give up! Too many rules – and maybe even some exceptions too …

    BTW my wife has the same /similar problems in German:
    Ich habe gelacht, ich habe geschlafen, ich bin gelaufen …
    Of course there are rules behind all these things – but you have to learn lists of words by heart and there are just too many of them.

    PS:

    I’m waiting for the day when google translate etc will be clever enough to do all this for us …

  35. Kirsten :

    Until today I was not aware of that people might actually say eszek instead of eszem.

    As we said before, the language is changing, especially the spoken one. There are hardly anyone who properly says “in the house” (házban) and “into the house” (házba). The “n” began to disappear. I’m talking about highly educated people who leave out the “n.” There are fewer and fewer people who make the distinction in speech. I wonder how long it will take before it disappears in writing as well.

    Someone earlier mentioned in Hungarian spoken in Transylvania there are more vowels. Actually, this is also the case in the speech of people from Transdanubia (Dunántúl). They, including myself, distinguish between e and what in Finnish alphabet is written as ä. The difference between the two “e’s” is something like between the pronunciation of “men” and “man.” People in Budapest can’t make that distinction and I vividly remember our professor who taught us Finnish trying to teach her students to pronounce these vowels properly. And people from Budapest and from the eastern parts did they a difficult time with it.

    Another southern Transdanubian peculiarity is that they often pronounce long vowels as short. This is a real handicap when it comes to spelling.

  36. Eva, I remember quite a number of debates whether it makes more sense to teach foreigners ‘actually spoken czech’ or the one that is written. There are people who believe that this has even different grammar. But the codified language has the advantage that it is understood and accepted everywhere whereas to debate whether something is ‘correct’ everywhere because it is spoken in some areas could be tiresome. I keep in mind that in Hungary also, there might be quite big differences between spoken and written language.

  37. Thanks Kirsten! – my question is about -ik verbs only. If you already know whether you want to use the definite or indefinite conjugation in a sentence (there is a longish but “learnable” list on when which), then comes this problem: for -ik verbs, the first person singular ending is the definite form, in both definite or indefinite context. We are debating whether it is true or not.

    normal verb: besze’l

    first person sg:
    besze’lem (def)
    besze’lek (indef)

    -ik verb:
    (small group of verbs)

    eszIK

    first person sg:
    eszem (def)
    eszem (indef)??

    or eszek (indef)??

    to a foreigner I would say, Hungarians use both, but they can use it as a normal verb, if they want. In my understanding it is correct.

  38. Cheshire cat, now that I could look into a book, German, from 2006, called Verbtabellen Ungarisch “übersichtlich und umfassend” (clear and comprehensive), the author (Rita Hegedüs) actually gives both versions (lakom/lakok) and states that lakom is the more usual. So, perhaps I should study the books more carefully ! 🙂

  39. And with eszik, she says that eszem and eszek can be used both in the hatarozatlan ragozas, and only eszem in the hatarozott ragozas. Lakik does not have a hatarozott ragozas.

  40. My head hurts!

    We were discussing accents (UK vs Hungary) once and my wife said that in Pécs (I think) they can pronounce the English ‘a’ – they can actually say ‘szandvics’, not ‘szendvics’!

    But on the subject of regional accents, to a Brit, Hungary is amazing in that there almost aren’t any regional variations – none serious, at least. Hungarians from one part of Hungary can easily be understood in any other part. Try that in the UK!

    My wife’s English is excellent, but when she first came over she couldn’t understand a word, and even now she struggles outside the south-east. I would imagine Cheshire Cat (if she is indeed in Cheshire) had similar problems up there.

    But it’s not just foreigners – we Brits don’t understand each other either. A Londoner, for instance, visiting Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Manchester, or especially Glasgow, and popping into a local pub, would struggle to understand much of what was being said by the ‘natives’. And it was once much worse – local dialects have practically died out nowadays, but not long ago in many places it wasn’t just the accent, you wouldn’t have known many of the words either.

    We have Anglo-Hungarian friends who moved to Newcastle some years ago and I can’t wait to meet up with them again to find out what their English is like after a few years up there!

    But why is it like this – so many regional accents in some countries, but in Hungary almost no variation – what makes Hungary so different?

  41. ” ut why is it like this – so many regional accents in some countries, but in Hungary almost no variation – what makes Hungary so different?”

    Trianon.. go to Szeklerland, Csangoföld, Délvidék and you will get your accents.
    Also there are accents in Pálocföld, Jászág, etc, you just need to venture outside Budapest.

  42. Paul, one reason for this is obvious:

    Geography – size of the country …

    In Germany the situation is very similar to England – some Schwab compatriots I know can’t even speak “High German”, though everybody is supposed to learn it in school …

    Hungary is much smaller …

    PS:

    Don’t forget, that English was also a dialect of German once, a long long time ago …
    I read a fascinating book once (based on a BBC radio series) on the origin and development of English – of the 100 most often used words in English, over 90 are German!

    But over the years English has taken its own course re grammar, spelling, pronunciation ..

  43. @Paul:

    The reason is because historically, the British Isles were inhabited by groups of people from various origins (Scandinavia, Germany, Frisia, Normandy …). And over time, these groups have assimilated and have become gradually more standardised in their language use to become ‘British’. And come back in a few centuries, and probably many regional dialects will have disappeared in favour of whatever dialect is most ‘prestigious’ at that time.

    As far as I’m aware, in Hungary, the opposite is true. One single group of people (the Magyars) spread out and settled over a reasonably wide area, rather than disparate groups assimilating. The only stranded pockets of Hungarians are those in the Szekely land and other parts of Transylvania. Because they’ve been ‘cut off’ their dialects and idiolects are somewhat different from ‘standard’ Hungarian.

  44. Speaking as a Canadian; it is absolutely not true that all Canadian’s are unaware of the oppression faced by Roma in Hungary, or that we universally agree with our government’s actions. Similarly, it can also be said that the Canadian government is well aware of the danger faced by Roma in Hungary, despite what they say. They just don’t care, and no amount of rational explanation will convince them. They are ideologues, who are convinced of the rightness of their actions, which are, quite frankly, racist.

    This is not to say that there is no way to better this situation, but I can assure you that it will not involve expecting reasoned and unbiased consideration from the (current) Canadian government.

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