Friday, October 9, 2015

Hungarian Halloween: We had Xenomorphs before it was cool

Welcome to my new Friday series through the end of October: Hungarian Halloween!
Hungary doesn't traditionally celebrate Halloween; our time to dress up, party, and run around drunk is farsang, which happens at the end of winter (think Mardi Gras). And yet, we have a lot of scary creatures and monsters going to waste without a spooky holiday, so I might as well share them for my Halloween-prone friends.
Here we go.

You have met the Owl With the Copper Dick.
You have met the Aggressive Piglet.
And now, for something infinitely worse.
(Warning: Graphic content)

When I was little and I drank too much too fast (water or lemonade, not alcohol, obviously), my mother would tell me "stop it, you'll grow a frog in your stomach."
For the longest time I wrote this off as just one of those things parents say, along with "don't slouch" and "say 'nice to meet you!'" But recently, doing some research into the darker corners of Hungarian folklore, I found out that this is not only a hungarikum (a typically Hungarian thing), but also one of the most terrifying pieces of folklore I have ever seen.

Introducing the Water Calf.

As adorable as that sounds, nobody seems to be sure what this creature is. Some studies equate it with real animals such as salamanders, certain types of newts, tadpoles, giant sturgeons, leeches, or even worms. Other sources clearly treat it as a magical, mythical creature. Whatever the case, the function is always the same:
If you drink from still freshwater (slow rivers, lakes, ponds, puddles), you might swallow a water calf; if it is not lured out in time, it will grow large in your stomach, until it bursts (or, in other versions, chews or burrows itself out).

In some descriptions, the water calf is a red-bellied lizard; in others, it is some kind of a hairy part-pig-part-calf creature that squeals. Sometimes it is just a large frog, or multiple frogs, that come out through the mouth and other orifices.

Good news: In order to avoid a reenactment of Alien, the water calf can be lured out peacefully by holding warm milk to the patient's mouth.

All of these things make sense in the context of the history of sanitation: It is not safe to drink still water for many reasons. The water calf serves as an appropriately dire warning against getting yourself poisoned or getting parasites from drinking from a puddle.
This is your PSA, people. Water calf. Not even once.

Monday, September 28, 2015

MopDog Monday: Schadenfreude, káröröm

And you thought the Germans were the only people who had a word specifically for being happy that someone else's life sucks.
Hungarians live on that stuff, yo.

The term for schadenfreude in Hungarian is "káröröm" - it is a mirror translation, literally "harm-joy." But taking thing one step further, as usual, Hungarians usually encase this term in a near little aphorism:

"Legszebb öröm a káröröm"
Literally: "Káröröm is the best kind of joy."

And in case you were confused about the sinister implications of this little snippet, here is an even loner, oft-used form that explains why:

"Legszebb öröm a káröröm, mert nincsen benne irigység."
Literally: "Káröröm is the best kind of joy, because there is no envy in it."


And because by now all of you are probably singing the song in your heads, here it is. You're welcome.

Monday, September 21, 2015

MopDog Monday: Don't laugh

After all the pop culture, here is some children's folklore from Hungary.

Laughing games are games where the goal is to make the players laugh. This can happen in a number of ways; one of the most interesting of them is with a series of questions-and answers, some of which may rhyme. Kids used to learn these, and one of them, who was the caller, asked them all, and the ones that didn't laugh won (became "angels" or "queens" etc.). There are many variations of the game; I just wanted to leave the line of questions-answers here. Busy Monday.

What did you eat today?
Bread with salt.
What did you drink today?
Cold water.
What do you stand on?
What do you float on?
A leaf.
What's in your mouth?
A blue pebble.
Look at the sky!
I won't look.
Spit on the ground!
I won't spit.
Spin around three times, don't laugh!

Go try it with someone, see if they laugh.

Monday, September 14, 2015

MopDog Monday: Hungary vs Hollywood

Following in the vein of Hungarian dub voices for famous actors, here is a lineup of Hungarian translations for famous movie and TV show titles - gone wrong.

Ever thought that movie titles are just mirror-translated into other languages?
Think again. The Hungarian movie industry seems to have a flare for randomly changing titles, even when there is no good reason to.
Some of the more famous examples:

English title: Blade Runner (1982)
Hungarian title: A szárnyas fejvadász
Literally means: The Winged Headhunter
For the longest time I didn't even realize those two were the same movie.

English title: Alien (1979)
Hungarian title: A nyolcadik utas: a Halál
Literally means: The eighth passenger: Death
Spoilers much?

English title: The Blind Side (2009)
Hungarian title: A szív bajnokai
Literally means: Champions of the heart
We like emotional titles, we do.

English title: Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
Hungarian title: Mielőtt meghaltam
Literally means: Before I died

English title: Kick-Ass (2010)
Hungarian title: Ha/ver
Literally means: Uh... "haver" means "buddy;" cut up like that, it means something like "when he beats you"
So, essentially every time someone says "Kick-Ass" in the movie, they are just saying "buddy."

English title: Gilmore Girls (2000-2007)
Hungarian title: Szívek szállodája
Literally means: The Hotel of Hearts

English title: Ender's Game (2013)
Hungarian title: Végjáték
Literally means: End Game
Someone didn't realize Ender was a name.

English title: Tangled (2010)
Hungarian title: Aranyhaj és a nagy gubanc  
Literally means: Goldenhair and the big tangle
And thus Hungarians negated Disney's efforts to make the movie more appealing to boys.
Also, "Goldenhair," because "Rapunzel" is not recognizable enough.

English title: Frozen (2013)
Hungarian title: Jégvarázs
Literally means: Ice Magic
Technically... not wrong.

English title: Arrow (2012-)
Hungarian title: A zöld íjász
Literally means: The green archer
Actually makes more sense than the original name?

English title: Game of Thrones (2011-)
Hungarian title: Trónok Harca
Literally means: Battle of Thrones
They just killed the metaphor dead. Like, Jon Snow dead.

English title: Ant-Man (2015)
Hungarian title: A Hangya
Literally means: The Ant
Scott said it was a stupid name anyway.

English title: Californication (2007-2014)
Hungarian title: Kaliforgia
Literally means: Califorgy
Not bad?

English title: The Reckoning (2002)
Hungarian title: Ördögi színjáték - A pap, a várúr, és a boszorkány
Literally means: Infernal comedy - The priest, the nobleman, and the witch
One of my favorite movies, but they really did go all out with this title...

And the winner is...

English title: Breaking Bad (2008-2013)
Hungarian title: Totál szívás
Literally means: Complete suckitude
This one almost incited a riot among Hungarian TV junkies. It makes the show sound like a comedy, solely to have a pun in the title: "szívás" can refer to something that sucks, or smoking weed. Yep.

What is YOUR favorite movie title? Would you like to see it Hungarified?

Monday, August 24, 2015

MopDog Monday: American Weeks in a Hungarian McDonald's

Still on the topic of fast food, and the pictures I took this summer: I was lucky enough to be in my country when McDonald's announced their American Weeks.
(I ignorantly have been assuming all this time that McDonald's WAS American Weeks...)
The question lingers: How do you make the Golden Arches MORE American?
(While at the same time also making it Hungarian-friendly)?



Second: McChicken BBQ (BBQ is a very American thing in our eyes)

Third: Crunchy Atlanta Burger (PUT THE FRIES INSIDE THE BURGER) (also BACON)

Fourth: Las Vegas BBQ (MORE BBQ) (I don't even know how to spell the full word)

Fifth: Beverly Hills Cheese Bites (filled with ketchup) and Chicago Potato Chips (no footnote to explain what makes them Chicago, I feel lost now)
(Chips are also not a side that you normally get in Hungary)

at the same time

These are Túró Rudi (cottage-cheese-and-chocolate) flavored flurries. I have been over the cult status of Túró Rudi before.

This whole thing made me feel incredibly American and incredibly Hungarian ALL AT THE SAME TIME.
Good job, Meki.