They say one really learns a language or a culture by understanding its sayings, phrases, proverbs, and terms that are completely meaningless for the foreign ear. It really reveals a lot about people, how they express great wisdom, or how they put feelings and thoughts into words.
It’s quite interesting to compare the sayings of languages, too. And by the way, learning these proverbs’ meaning is an easy and enjoyable way to improve your Hungarian. While, for example, English says “curiosity killed the cat”, the Hungarian proverb expressing similar wisdom goes for a bit more tame version, saying something along the lines of: “a curious person grows old sooner” (“aki kíváncsi, hamar megöregszik”).
And we also suggested some Facebook and Instagram pages to follow to enlighten yourself about the complexity of Hungarian grammar and sayings as well as the ridicule of their literal meaning:
Proverbs are something most native speakers unconsciously learn, probably during childhood, probably from the cautionary speeches from old relatives. While these phrases contain great pearls of wisdom about the Ultimate Question of Life, like how useful it is to get up early, or how important modesty is, there is another genre of Hungarian sayings to be learned:
the amazingly weird and extremely funny terms used in everyday conversations.
If you would like to learn to sound like a proper Hungarian, you need to use these phrases. For example, when something is really close, you could say it is near, but why not say
“it is just a spit away”
(“csak egy köpésre van”)? Or when you see an adorable child, you could say “cute” (or “cuki” in Hungarian), but why not go all the way and say, “I will eat his heart!” (“egyem a szívét”) like Hungarians would?
We have another Instagram page worth following if you’d like to deepen your knowledge in the twisted way Hungarians think and speak. @inhungarywesay shows terms and phrases used in everyday slang, the kind of sentences you hear on a bus or the street and cannot wrap your mind around. Like why would someone tell you that you have poppy seed while smiling and nodding reassuringly?!
We are here to help! This Instagram account collects these funny and wonderful phrases from its followers and then shares them with explanations. You see how an average, polite English-speaking person would put something to words, then the madness of Hungarians, and then you can also check out the literal translation in the description.
Here are some great examples:
If you would like to go even further and get the hang of Hungarian cultural references and pop culture quotes, we recommend Ausztrál Tom, an amazingly enthusiastic Australian Youtuber who has committed himself to learn not only the Hungarian language but everything it means to be a Hungarian.