(First published on We Love Budapest, 18 December 2014)
Are you a hungry Hungarian?
This – and other terrible jokes of its cheesy genre – is probably the most irritating thing every Hungarian has ever heard. We can’t even understand it – it’s not even funny – well maybe it is a little bit funny…
Bucharest instead of Budapest
If you’ve accidentally said Hungary’s capital was BuCHaRest to a Hungarian they’ve probably wanted to murder someone. Of course they do sound awfully similar and, yes, they are located in the same part of the world, but we can assure you that these are two completely different cities. Just in case you missed the Eastern European geography lesson at school, Bucharest is in Romania. Happily, it seems that our neighbours have had similar issues in reverse, because they’ve created this amazing video:
Hungarian is a notoriously hard language, and there’s no doubt that pretty much every word is hard to pronounce, but one of the most common victims is our famousGulyás soup. Of course it doesn’t help that this is often written as “Goulash” on menus but the actual pronunciation is more like gu-yah-sh.
Do Hungarians play football?
This is an understandable mistake because Hungarian football has been pretty much non-existent internationally over the past decades, but Hungarians are fiercely proud of their absolutely incredible football history. In fact, Hungary’s national football team from the 1950s – known as the Golden Team – was the side playing against England in the match dubbed “the game of the century.” It was in this match, in 1953, that Hungary beat England, in England, 6-3.
I don’t like Hungarian wine
One of the quickest ways to offend a Hungarian is to claim that Hungarian wine isn’t great. Hungarians are fiercely proud of their wine-growing regions such as Tokaj, Villány and Eger, and if you say you've had a bad drop, Hungarians will secretly think that perhaps you just don’t know your wines.
If this is your response to whether you’d like another shot of Pálinka, then do not pass go, do not collect $200, because Hungarians love their Pálinka and it’s a drink to be shared. It’s an absolute no-no to refuse a shot of this killer liquid - even if it’s 3am and you’re on your 4th shot of the fruit brandy.
Questioning how clever Hungarians are
Hungarians love to talk abut how many Hungarian inventions there are, how many famous Hungarians there are, how many Olympic medals the country has won (476 medals at the summer Olympic Games, making Hungary the 8th in the world on the all time medal tally) and how many Nobel Prize winners are Hungarian (12). So question this long-held belief in Hungarian cleverness and you’re skating on thin ice!
Pronounce the capital like this: Boo-da-pest (pest as in rascal) and you’re likely to drive many Hungarians nuts. Obviously Hungarians understand that everyone pronounces cities in their own way, but if you really want to walk in the favour of a Hungarian, say this: Buddah-pesht.
Mixing up the Hungarian and Italian flags
Both have red, white and green stripes so it’s easy to confuse, but one is horizontal (Hungary) and the other is vertical (Italy). Mixing them up or saying that Hungarians copied the Italians are big no-nos.
Treaty of Trianon and communism
Talking politics with a Hungarian… unless you absolutely agree on all historical, political, social and economic angles is risky business. The Treaty of Trianon (where much of Hungary’s land was annexed to neighbouring countries) and the communist years are especially touchy topics and these are probably a hornets nest probably best left unpoked. This advice applies to football as well.
This right here is the longest word in the Hungarian language, and while many are proud of its incredible size, asking a Hungarian to say it, or worse yet tell you what it means, will result in a death-stare. For the record it’s 44 characters long and apparently means "due to your repeatedly not being possible to be desecrated." As for how to pronounce it, that’s a whole other article, which we’ll probably never do.
The most beautiful women in the world aren’t Hungarian
What? Um yes they are! A sure-fire way to annoy a Hungarian is to argue with what many Hungarians consider to be a well-known, irrefutable fact.
Hungarians never smile and they’re always unhappy
This is something that borders on a world-wide myth about Hungarians, that has somehow taken hold. Whether it’s a simple case of resting-bitch-face or something else, Hungarians do smile! And if you avoid all the points on this list you’ll definitely find Hungarians are a pretty happy bunch… especially if you say yes that Pálinka.