The Apprentice: Spider Style — YOU’RE FIRED!

Before I ramble off my list of Hungarian things I learned today, let me tell you a story.

On the first night that we arrived at Bethlen Gábor Kollégium, the dorm in which we are staying in order to attend courses at Corvinus and Karoli Gaspar, my roommate Kelly and I discovered that spiders have taken quite a liking to our room. Not any kind of dangerous spiders, just the type that spin cobwebs and generally just crawl around behind curtains and look creepy. Anyway, I took down one of them with a shoe, but there has always been another one just chilling up in his cobweb on the ceiling above Kelly’s bed. He’s too high for us to get, so we just left him be. Live and let live.


Slowly, we began to develop friendly feelings toward this spider, whom we named Rachel-Richard (for fear that, unaware of its gender, we may offend it). Rachel-Richard keeps to herhimself, casually watching us from the ceiling and otherwise not interfering in our daily lives. We also discovered, after the appearance of numerous red, itchy bumps all over us, that the rest of the students have been letting in mosquitoes by not closing the screenless window.

From that moment, a glorious union was formed — two roommates armed with notebooks and shoes, teaming up with undercover agent Rachel-Richard to smite the mosquito invasion. You do know that spiders eat other bugs, right? That was the plan. Dinner.

So, we waited for Rachel-Richard to take action. He-she was gone for two days — to scout out enemy lines, we assumed. Two days later, we found even more mosquitoes in our room than ever before! When Rachel-Richard returned, we had only two words to express our feelings —


So, Rachel-Richard hovered behind the lace curtain today, mourning her-his unemployment and her-his miserable failure. When we returned from Hungarian class, lo and behold, Rachel-Richard had climbed back up to the cobweb on the ceiling, finally showing her-his sad face again. Then, suddenly, the mosquito forces were reduced by one.



So, what did I learn in Hungarian today? We have the midterm on Monday, so I’ll be doing a lot of “what did I learn in Hungarian” all weekend! But our list of words for today is —

Minden, madár, tars, választ, hát, immár, kit, válasszak, engem (engemet), téged (tégedet), vagyok, vagy, amerikai, michganből, jöttem, turista, Budapesten, egyetem, egyetemre, járok, mit, tanulsz, matematika, de, is, tanulok, régóta, itt, egész, jól, beszélsz.

I rather enjoyed class today, because we solidified a lot of the concepts we have been learning rather than continuing to rush ahead. I am now able to quickly ask for my bill at a restaurant, ask what is in the food that I don’t recognize, and thank the waiters for their help. That’s pretty good for only three days of training!

I am consistently impressed at the level of nuance which Hungarian contains. For example — to discuss other people or things, the verb can conjugate as szereted or szeretem; however, when one person is speaking directly to another person, the entire verb and its conjugation rules change to szeretlek, szeretsz, and szeret. Does this point to some Hungarian feeling that community, speaking directly with other people, warrants a different or refreshed attitude? Do they value one-on-one communication enough to alter their language patterns so that such language becomes important in a new way to the people who are speaking it?

Additionally, I am intrigued by the nuances of word order in Hungarian. Many sentence patterns can be entirely correct, but the underlying meanings can very greatly simply by altering word order. Naturally, this is true in English as well, but take for example a sentence we discussed today —

Nem vagyok amerikai. I am not an American.

Some students, in an effort to replicate previous practice sentences’ word order (such as Igen, díak vagyok), constructed the sentence Nem amerikai vagyok.

Indeed, both Nem vagyok amerikai and Nem amerikai vagyok are grammatically correct and perfectly fine to use. However, when one says Nem amerikai vagyok, one is inherently implying I am not an American, but …

In Nem vagyok amerikai, the solid fact is that I am not American. Conversely, switching word order can add the implication that I am indeed not American, but I have more to tell you and would like to correct your understanding. Interesting that Hungarian has these kinds of meanings which are difficult to use correctly (or intentionally).


In other news, I took a trip up to Városliget today to take some pictures of the Heroes’ Square, Museum of Fine Arts, and Vajdahunyad Castle. For more info on what all the statues in Heroes’ Square symbolize, check out this link —


In between each of those pillars —


We got some awesome views of Vajdahunyad Castle as we stood by a duck pond looking through the trees in Városliget —


Tomorrow will kind of be a chill day, studying for the midterm. Then, on Sunday, Szolt volunteered to hook us up with a friend of his who is a professional tour guide to take us around Buda some more. Hopefully, he’ll take us into Buda Hills. We’ll see!


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