Igen … és nem.

June 4, 2009

“The Hungarians are a mystery in Europe, a totally distinct people, apparently completely unrelated to any of their neighbours, with a language that is written in the Latin alphabet but otherwise seems to bear no resemblance whatever to any other European language, apart from loan words. The non-Hungarian who visits Budapest as a tourist, for example, is dismayed to find himself in what in all respects but one looks like a familar European metropolis. The difference is that he feels that he has been struck by total dyslexia. Nothing that is written is even slightly familiar.”

Edward Fox, “The Hungarian who Walked to Heaven”

Those words chime with my first impressions of Hungary – that first morning walking round the centre of Gyöngyös. But then an unfortunate – and very amusing – error creeps in…

“The police car that zooms by in any other European city bears a name on its side thatis roughly comprehensible: polizei or polis or policia. In Hungary, the word is ‘szobarend’.”

I’m not sure whether that mistake ruins the book or makes it delightful! Anyway, don’t let that put you off reading it – Csoma is a fascinating character and the book is otherwise a pretty good introduction to his life.

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