Hey Hungary, I’m not German, Mmmkay?

I feel weird when running around Hungary. It’s as if Germanity will break out at any moment. You see, whenever I go in to a restaurant or a store or have any kind of interaction, people always want to speak to me in German. I guess because of the glasses, blue eyes, and height, I could have been in the Gestapo, but you’d think that saying, “Hello” or “Good evening” or “Is this table free?” would point to the fact that I’m not German, but it doesn’t seem to help. When I ask for an English menu, then it helps for a second only to have them hand me the menu and then say something in German as well as take my order in some odd German. It’s weird. It’s really weird.
I understand that I don’t speak Hungarian and so I’m the crappy one in this deal, but I’d almost rather that they spoke Hungarian so that I would learn some basic words and not be such a dunce in their country. But it seems that my choices are either: German, Hungarian, or Germglish, which is this “English” that some Hungarians speak that consists of one or two English words and then a whole bunch of German words spoken very slowly as we apparently speak English very slowly; and Germanically.
This isn’t to say that all Hungarians are at best only able to speak two languages. A friend of mine who has shown me a bit of her Budapest can fluently speak, Hungarian, German, English, French, and a good deal of Russian. I’m sure she could speak a bit of Serbocroatian if put to the test as well. She’s quite sensible about it though. When asked how in the hell she can speak so many distinct languages, she says, “Well, no one speaks Hungarian.” And this is true, although on a purely practical level, I’d much rather be speaking Hungarian in Hungary than German in Hungary.
Hey Hungary, I'm not German, Mmmkay?

2 Replies to “Hey Hungary, I’m not German, Mmmkay?”

  1. Hi Miquel,
    I am Eszter’s sister and she showed me your blog, which I find amazing, because it is so detailed, enjoyable and it is very interesting to see how much you like Hungary, the country I live in for 29 years now and would like to leave and start a new life somewhere else… possibly outside Europe. Maybe if I read your site for a longer time, I will change my mind:) Anyway, is it Eszter whom you write about here: “A friend of mine who has shown me a bit of her Budapest can fluently speak, Hungarian, German, English, French, and a good deal of Russian.”? As my last update about her she doesn’t speak French fluently, or do you know more?:)
    Cheers, Sara

    1. Hi there! I didn’t know that Eszter had a sister, but good to meet you. I’m glad you are enjoying the Hungary articles. Shortly, they will turn back to San Francisco and life outside of Hungary of course, but I hope it will still be interesting for you. There are few more before this happens though, so you’ll get more of my take on your homeland.
      Hungary is a great country with great food and history. It’s too bad that you want to leave it, but then again, time away from your home country can often make you like returning to it a lot more. Or it can also turn you the other way and make it hard to return, which is a point I’m getting at with the US.
      And yes, the friend is Eszter. I thought she could speak French as well because she was translating the titles on some pieces at the Modern Art Museum in Vienna when I first met her, but maybe she just knows the basics of French and can’t speak it fluently. Whatever the case, you guys speak a lot more languages than we Americans and considering that one of them is Hungarian, that’s quite impressive.

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