I’ve been making the case for learning new words at school. You know, being an English teacher and all. Sometimes it feels like the students are geese that I am going to use for foie gras someday. Gotta fatten up those livers! Foie gras is a popular dish in Hungary… they force feed the geese…

It’s exhausting. Misguided. Sometimes wrong. This whole inflicting information business. Probably foie gras too. Anyway, it’s been a decade since my wife and I lived in Budapest, Hungary where we were both English teachers in a high school. Essentially I have the same job today, but I am in the mountains of Oregon instead.

I miss being surrounded by a language I don’t understand. I miss hearing new words. I did read on papers today the words funderstand and Jewity but those weren’t attempts at innovation, but rather something else.

I spent a year attempting to improve my Hungarian, and after not hearing it or using it for years I realize that I have APPROPRIATED SOME WORDS FROM MAGYARORSZAG INTO MY DAILY LEXICON. For example:

Uborka, zarva, kicsi, hagyma, gomba, szeretlek, nagy, igen, nem, sziastok, vagyok, hol van a, sajt, egesegedre, fak, paradicsom

I regularly use the Hungarian words for cucumber, closed, small, onion, mushroom, “I love you”, large, yes, no, hello, “I am”, “Where is the”, cheese, cheers, woods, and tomato/paradise.

That last word paradicsom is the Hungarian word for both tomato and paradise. I remember visiting a church in the city and being confused as to why the worship songs kept mentioning tomatoes, numbers and vegetables being the extent of my language study at that time.

The world is a noisy place these days. I miss the noise being background noise that didn’t really apply to me because I didn’t understand it. When I hear English words these days, I understand them, and I understand what they are supposed to mean, and have meant historically. Yet definitions seem to be divorcing their words. Things like truth and facts and all that.

I miss going about my day only sometimes noticing words that I understood. “Hey! That guy just said a number! Are they talking about vegetables over there?”

Anyway, whoever you are, Szeretlek (in the appropriate way that I should).

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