UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


Trail 8: Just Words – from students of Hungarian

Not many but funny

It should come as no surprise that English has borrowed few words from Hungarian. In fact, it may sound surprising that it has borrowed from Hungarian at all, beyond the usual culture-specific words such as gulash, Pusta, and hussar (pálinka and and Túró Rudi). Two such surprising borrowings are:




from Hungarian

kocsi ’car, horse cart’




from László Bíró’s surname, who was the Hungarian-Jewish-born inventor of the ball-point pen

bíró in Hungarian means ’judge’


Hungarian, the magic mushroom

As you can see in the short film, however, among the favourites of students of Hungarian are words such as lépcsőház ‘staircase’, papucs ‘slippers’, and elmosolyodik ‘break into a smile’. The film was made during the students’ year abroad – a full year that language students spend in the country of the target language during their studies. They also talk about why they chose to study Hungarian and why Hungarian, if it was a drug, it would be magic mushrooms.

Widget Placeholderhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHYR7vLVUmY