Monday, February 8, 2016

MopDog Monday: Hungarian names for all your fantasy novel needs

It is a running joke in Hungary that George R. R. Martin used "exotic" Hungarian names for a fantasy novel - both János (as in Janos Slynt) and Sándor (as in Sandor Clegane) are very common names in our little corner of the world.
This also explains why most of us refer to the Hound as "Sanyi."

But why stop there? Aren't you tried of Anglo-Saxon/Celtic sounding fantasy names yet? Well, in case you are, here is a list of bona fide Hungarian(ish) names that you can pick to use in your epic fantasy that will topple Game of Thrones from the top of the charts.

Or, you know, whatever.

The list is incomplete and very subjective. I was trying to pick some that would sound nice/funny/interesting to English speaking people. If you want more, click here.

Girl names:
You will notice that a lot of them end with -ka or -ke. This is a common way in Hungarian to make endearing nicknames, or add "little" to the name's meaning. 

Aporka - female version of a male name meaning father (also a family name)
Aranka - nickname from "arany" which means gold. Thus, the Hungarian equivalent of Aurelia
Bíborka - recent revival of an older name, means both purple and an expensive type of cloth (think Tyrian purple)
Boglárka - popular and recent, from the word that means buttercup
Boróka - nickname for Borbála (Barbara) and also accidentally means juniper
Csenge - this is my name, so obviously any character you use it for has to be awesome by definition.
Csilla - literary creation from "csillag" which means star. Very popular (pronounced with a ch).
Dalma - both a male and a female name, literary creation
Emese - old Hungarian name, has a motherhood-related meaning
Enikő - literary creation from an older name; fairly popular. Incidentally, the Hungarian name of the Flintstones girl child (because "kő" means stone).
Eperke - "little strawberry"
Etelka - a literary creation from a male name.
Gyöngyvirág - if you really want to be cruel to your English-speaking readers (means lily of the valley)
Hajnal(ka) - "(little) dawn"
Hanga - Hungarian for heather
Ilona - the Hungarian version of Helena, except prettier. Also the name of our Fairy Queen
Jolán(ta) - both a name of Hungarian origin, and the Hungarian version of Violante
Málna - means raspberry
Mandula - Literally means almond, famously one of the lovers of the ill-fated King László IV.

Boy names:

Álmos - literally translates into "sleepy," but actually means "dreamed of," name of one of our ancient chiefs whose birth was heralded by a dream
Bánk - a name with a dark cultural connotation, and nothing to do with money
Béla - vampire enthusiasts probably already know this one
Botond - old Hungarian name of a hero that wrecked the gates of Byzantium. Meaning related to mace.
Farkas - means wolf (or something else with a tail)
Győző - again, in case you need a name to mess with English-speaking readership (means victor, winner)
Hunor - traditionally, the ancestor of the Huns
Huba - origin unknown, one of our ancient chiefs
Lehel - the badass guy that killed that other guy with a horn, probably means something soul-related
Levente - popular name, also incidentally an older word used for soldiers
Magor - traditionally, the ancestor of the Hungarians (Magyar)
Nemere - recently created archaic-sounding name, means restless, stirring
Soma - newer name created from the word for dogwood, the Hungarian equivalent of Cornelius
Szabolcs - old Hungarian name of contested origins, and fun to ask English-speakers to pronounce

If you want to read more about the strangeness of Hungarian naming customs, click here for an earlier post.

And now, let the Hungarian conquest of fantasy worlds begin!

Monday, February 1, 2016

MopDog Monday: R.I.P., Professor Piton - and other Hungarian name changes

Translations are sometimes more than just putting the text of the book into another language. For various reasons, it is very common practice to turn names, places, and other proper nouns into new inventions when a text is translated. Sometimes the reasons are related to cultural differences, while in other cases, they are purely artistic.

With the recent, much mourned passing of Alan Rickman, beloved actor who portrayed (among many other iconic roles) Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series, my Facebook feed acutely reminded me that English- and Hungarian-speaking friends had different names for the same character. Inspired by this, I decided to give you some examples of what names we know famous characters by.
Here we go.
(Not including names that are just literal translations of the original)

Harry Potter
The Harry Potter books are famous for their high quality Hungarian translation, and the linguistic genius of its translators who decided (for better or worse) to play around with names.

Hogwarts = Roxfort
Gryffindor = Griffendél
Slytherin = Mardekár (no one is sure about this one, although 'mar' is the verb we use for snake bites)
Ravenclaw = Hollóhát (literally translates into 'raven's back')
Hufflepuff = Hugrabug ('ugrabugrál' is a verb used for jumping/bouncing around)
Severus Snape = Perselus Piton
Minerva McGonagall = Minerva McGalagony ('galagonya' is our word for hawthorne)
Pomona Sprout = Pomona Bimba ('bimbó' means 'bud')
Peeves = Hóborc ('hóbortos' translates into 'quirky' or 'whimsical')

Lord of the Rings
Meriadoc "Merry" Brandybuck = Borbak Trufiádok, "Trufa" (name turned around because Hungarians put family names first; 'trufa' is an archaic word for joke or prank)
Rivendell = Völgyzugoly (literal translation from the Elvish name)

Wolverine = Farkas (Wolf) (the Hungarian word for 'wolverine' is 'rozsomák,' which sounds silly to Hungarian ears, but the newer comic translations are using it more often now)
Storm = Ciklon (Cyclone)
Nightcrawler = Árnyék (Shadow) (there was really no good Hungarian word for this one)
Hawkeye = Sasszem (Eagle-eye)

Huey, Dewey, and Louie (Duck Tales) = Tiki, Niki, Viki (yes, they sound like girl names to us too)
Pom, Flora, and Alexander (Babar) = Palika, Flóra, Adorján
J.R. Ewing (Dallas) = Jockey Ewing (one of the most famous examples of an English name being changed to something easier for us to pronounce)
Sue Ellen Ewing (Dallas) = Samantha Ewing (same thing, also, Sue Ellen to us sounds like someone is advertising something 'against termites')
Gargamel (Smurfs) = Hókuszpók
Azrael (Smurfs) = Sziamiaú
Cera (Land Before Time) = Kistülök (Littlehorn)
Petri (Land Before Time) = Röpcsi ('Flighty'?...)
Sleeping Beauty = Csipkerózsika (Little Briar Rose) (never understood as a kid why Disney gave her another name)
Hansel and Gretel = Jancsi és Juliska (not in the movie, though, as much as I wanted to see Jeremy Renner yelling JULISKAAA at the top of his lungs)

There are many other examples as well, but let's just leave it at that for now. Does any of them surprise you?

Monday, January 25, 2016

MopDog Monday: Does your dog call you Mom?

One thing that constantly trips me up about English-speaking pet owners is that they don't have a pet-specific term of affection. In addition, in cases like me and my family where the pet talks back, they don't have a word for that either.
(Other than "possibly crazy")
I keep hearing people refer to pets as their "babies," and hearing pets refer to their owners as "Mom," "Dad," and "Grandma." No matter how much I try, I just can't get used to that - because I feel like there is a word missing. A word that does exist in Hungarian.

Therefore, I would like to use today's post to introduce the English-speaking world to an extremely useful term:

Gazdi is a pet-specific word for pet owners. It is a nickname derived from the word "gazda" which means "owner" (also means "farmer" in certain contexts, but that's another story). While "gazda" can be applied to various things and inanimate objects, "gazdi" specifically refers to owners of pets.
In Hungarian, if you talk to your dog and your dog talks back - in a voice that sounds suspiciously like yours except higher/lower pitched -, your dog will most likely call you "gazdi" and not "Mom."

Go ahead, give it a spin. See how it feels. Flaunt your knowledge of unique Hungarian vocabulary ("It's an old Hungarian term, impossible to translate I'm afraid...").
Ask you pets for their opinion.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Rigó Jancsi - a sinful dessert with a side of scandal

My family has a long tradition of making this famous dessert. My grandfather passed it on to my parents, who passed the recipe on to me. I am still trying to get the hang of it, but when it is done right, it is the most delicious thing you've ever tasted.

(It was also the wedding cake at my parents' wedding, until the Best Man accidentally sat on it)

Rigó Jancsi is a chocolate sponge cake filled with sinful amounts of cocoa cream and covered in dark chocolate. So, basically, it is chocolate within chocolate topped with more chocolate.
What's not to love?

And not only is the pastry delicious  - it also has quite the amazing story behind the name.

Rigó Jancsi, the person the dessert was named after, was a Gypsy musician in the 19th century (1858-1927). He was a natural talent - started playing the violin at age 5, started his own band in his early 20s, and soon became the favorite of Budapest coffee houses (and women). In 1896, while playing in Paris, he met Clara Ward, the daughter of a Michigan millionaire, who was married to the Belgian Prince of Caraman-Chimay. On that fateful day the musician and the princess fell in love, and thus kicked off one of the largest social scandals of the century. Clara divorced her husband (leaving her two children behind), Jancsi divorced his wife, and they got married soon after their elopement.
(Imagine, if you will, Kate Middleton running away with a bar musician)
As much fun as all this sounds, they did not exactly have a fairy tale life. They soon ran out of money (spending more than eight million dollars traveling around and livin' it up), and Clara started posing for pictures and modeling in places like the infamous Moulin Rouge. Her pictures stirred up even more scandal, and were even banned in some places. Eventually the relationship crumbled, and after Jancsi was repeatedly unfaithful to her, Clara left the marriage in Naples, running away with an Italian waiter. Jancsi kept wandering, playing music, and seducing actresses, until he died poor and forgotten in New York. He is buried in Manhattan.

Wait, but why the dessert?

The pastry was created by a Budapest chef who named it after Rigó Jancsi, who - according to legend - brought his lover to the restaurant to dazzle her with sweetness (saying that the pastry was "brown like his skin, and sweet like her heart"). The pastry became successful, and the name stuck around.

Here are some sites that give you the basics of how to make Rigó Jancsi:

Joe Pastry (with photos)

For comparison, here is our own recipe:

Pre-heat the oven to 175C (347F)

Break 12 eggs, separate the yolk from the white
Work on the whites first: Add pinch of salt and 6 low tablespoons of sugar; whip it up until it is a shining cream
Yolk: Add 6 low tablespoons of sugar, whip until fades to almost white
Pour the yolk cream into the white cream, mix lightly
Add 12 tablespoons of flour
A little cooking powder
2-3 tablespoons of cocoa powder (depending on how dark you want the cake)
Mix all lightly

Line pan with baking paper, pour batter into pan
Put it in the oven for 35-40 minutes (DON'T OPEN THE OVEN)
When the top of the cake starts wrinkling, but is not burnt brown yet, take it out, flip it on a grate, peel off the paper, let it dry and cool

While it's cooling:

Pour about 14dl whipping cream into a bowl
Whip it up until it is thick (if you put your finger into it, it gets coated in cream)
Add 3-4 tablespoons of sugar and 2-3 tablespoons of cocoa powder (just mix these in, don't whip)
Melt a packet of gelatine and mix it in rapidly
Put the cream into the fridge for about 20 minutes to thicken (until you can put your finger in in and it leaves a dent)

Cut the cake into two parts horizontally
Fill in the cream in the middle
Melt dark chocolate in a pot and coat the top of the cake

Repeat attempts until the cake tastes good. Don't despair. My first try leaked through the boards of the kitchen table.
(It was still delicious)

Monday, January 11, 2016

BREAKING: Hungary's first Golden Globe!

Last night, at the 73. Golden Globe Awards, Hungary won its first ever Golden Globe! Son of Saul, directed by Nemes László, won Best Foreign Language Film!

A big accomplishment for a small country. Cue the celebration!
Everyone is really excited for the Oscars now.

Son of Saul has also been named No. 1 of the 50 best films in the US in 2015 by The Guardian.
You can watch the trailer here: