Thursday, January 11, 2007


...which is Hungarian for 'the language of love'. Which can only mean French, right?
Well, no.

Earlier today, I was rereading "A cigánybáró" ("The Gypsy Baron"), my favorite novel by the Hungarian novelist Mór Jókai. Set in 18th century Banát, it is a charming story of a young nobleman returning home from exile in Turkey to reclaim his title and his inheritance. The multilingual world of medieval and early modern Hungary meeting the multilingual world of the Ottoman Empire described in Jókai's playful prose is a linguistic feast. I'm still trying to find out what "kurugja" is and who is meant by "Ali Kurd". And does anyone have any idea what kind of tobacco "boktsatütün" ("bokçatütün"?) is?

In chapter 5 ("The Sevenfold Trials of Baronhood"), our protagonist is spending some time at the estate of baron Feuerstein where he is subjected not only to the trials, but - as a poor expatriate - also to the general ridicule of the assembled nobility. Describing how, as a part of the trials, the protagonist has just learned French in one afternoon (How indeed, you ask? Read the novel, I answer.), the narrator offers this insight into the linguistic milieu of 18th century Austro-Hungarian empire:

Most már aztán nem lehetett vele mókázni a háta mögött, mert megértette, amit franciául beszéltek; németül konversálni pedig úri társaságban nem volt szokás: ez csak a szerelem nyelve, négyszemközötti társalgásra való.

From now on, they could no longer mock him behind his back speaking French. And German was not commonly spoken in the high society: it is solely a language of love, more suitable for an intimate conversation.

How things change...


David Marjanović said...

Wow. You speak Hungarian?!? Let me express my respect!

ts in Hungarian is a strange sight. I've only encountered it in Burgenland-Croatian surnames, for the sound I end in.

Johanka said...

This is the thing for which I sometimes envy Slovak people, especially those living in the south - the intimate contact with Hungarian culture and language.

David: How do you pronounce the sound you end in? :-) I recall the letter doesn't display correctly on Languagehat.

bulbul said...


thank you, but I'm afraid you're giving me too much credit. All I had to do to learn Hungarian was to be born in the right place. Now as for Finnish, that's a different story :o)
That "ts" thing is really weird. I would normally expect "cs" in Serbian/Croatian names ending in "-ć", as well as in boktsatütün should "ts" really stand for "č".


welcome :o)
Actually, I'm originally from the East, somewhere around here. But what you said about Hungarian language and culture applies here as well.

David Marjanović said...

That "ts" thing is really weird. I would normally expect "cs" in Serbian/Croatian names ending in "-ć", as well as in boktsatütün should "ts" really stand for "č"

I think it was specially invented to distinguish "ć" from "č" (there was no Croatian orthography yet).

Is the Hungarian cs retroflex? I think the Turkish ç is not... perhaps that's why ts suddenly turns up in a Turkish word...

Pronunciation? Right in the middle between "c" and "č". The voiceless alveolopalatal affricate. :-)

(Incidentally, ignore what that Wikipedia page says about Mandarin. What they give is an approximate description of a southern accent.)

Language said...

I'm guessing it's bohça rather than bokça; bohçalamak is 'to wrap up in a bundle' and bohça is 'wrapping cloth, bundle.' Does 'wrapped/bundled tobacco' make any sense in context?

Anonymous said...

Another meaning for Turkish "bohça" is "small bale of fine tobacco", according to the Redhouse dictionary.

Language said...

Aha -- proof! Nice to see my Sprachgefühl works even for languages I don't actually speak.

bulbul said...

Steve and Anonymous,

thank you very much, gentlemen!

And Steve, my (metaphorical) hat is off to you :o)

Lameen Souag said...

Hi Bulbul, a quick question with nothing to do with this post:

You speak Maltese - do you happen to know any defective verbs in it which only have imperative forms?

Anonymous said...

There seem to be many variants: kurugla kurugja duruglya kurigja kuriglya kurogla kurukla (kurukla could be Turkish),
which you can find on the web in phrases like:
a seprőt kihúzó kurugla /
Ha a konyhában körül nem tekintettem volna, a kurugla és a pemet mind összeégett volna. /
az egyik sarokban egy kurogla (szénvonó) szomorkodott / (etc.)

See also

Anonymous said...

29047126483369175 I play dofus Replica Watches for one year, I Replica Rolex Watches want to get some Replica Watch kamas to buy Replica Chanel Watches item for my character. So, I search "Replica Swiss Watches" on google and found many website. As Exact Replica Graham Watch the tips from the forum, I just review the Swiss Replica Watches websites and choose some Replica Montblanc Watches quality sites to Replica Cartier Watches compare the price, and go to their Replica Breguet Watches online support to make Replica Breitling Watches the test. And Last Chaos Gold I decide to use Replica BRM Watch at the end. And Tag Heuer Replica Watch that is the Replica IWC Watch beginning..

dong dong said...

ugg boots
michael kors outlet
michael kors outlet online
ugg outlet
mihchael kors bag
Michael Kors Handbags Clearance Outlet
cheap uggs
jordan shoes
Louis Vuitton Canada Official Site
Abercrombie and Fitch USA Outlet Store
Michael Kors Outlet Sale Handbags Discount
coach outlet
celine bags
michael kors uk
ugg boots
Montblanc Pen Refills Outlet
fitflops sale clearance
michael kors outlet
ralph lauren uk
coach outlet
Air Jordan 6 Champagne Bottle
ugg boots clearance
Michael Kors Outlet Online Deals Huge
Nike Kobe Bryant Basketball Shoes
michael kors outlet
ralph lauren
nike air max 90
football jerseys cheap
New Michael Kors Handbags Outlet Online
michael kors outlet
Coach Luggage Bags Outlet Sale Online
toms outlet
Designer Louis Vuitton Handbags Outlet
Authentic Louis Vuitton Bags Discount

mmjiaxin said...

asics,asics israel,asics shoes,asics running shoes,asics israel,asics gel,asics running,asics gel nimbus,asics gel kayano
ysl outlet
ugg boots
michael kors outlet online
los angeles lakers
snapbacks wholesale
baltimore ravens
mlb jerseys
swarovski crystal
cheap jordan shoes
adidas wings shoes
miami heat
air jordan 13
adidas outlet
san francisco 49ers
winter jackets
ralph lauren,polo ralph lauren,ralph lauren outlet,ralph lauren italia,ralph lauren sito ufficiale
longchamp handbags
coach handbags outlet
michael kors online outlet

Hua Cai said...

michael kors outlet clearance
ray ban sunglasses
jordan shoes
ray ban sunglasses
cheap ugg boots
beats headphones
michael kors handbags
oakley sunglasses wholesale
prada outlet
futbol baratas
moncler coats
oakley sunglasses
michael kors factory outlet
ghd hair straighteners
cheap jordans
ralph lauren shirts
rolex watches
michael kors sale
cheap snapbacks
christian louboutin uk
ralph lauren uk
kobe shoes
longchamp handbags
air jordan shoes
moncler jackets
links of london
true religion outlet
prada shoes
ugg outlet
calvin klein underwear
adidas wings
nba jerseys
hermes birkin
oakley sunglasses
michael kors factory outlet
hermes bags
cheap uggs
oakley sunglasses
tiffany and co jewelry

John said...

nike air huarache
christian louboutin
coach outlet
uggs outlet
cheap oakley sunglasses
marc jacobs
uggs boots
celine bags
ralph lauren polo
gucci outlet
jordan concords
coach outlet store online
louis vuitton outlet
adidas originals
hollister kids
lebron james shoes
louis vuitton handbags
jordan 11
oakley sunglasses wholesale
ray ban outlet
ugg boots
retro jordans
hollister uk
michael kors handbags
uggs outlet
longchamp outlet
the north face
michael kors outlet
gucci handbags
michael kors handbags