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Nowadays, many tourists visit our country from abroad. Many people find Hungarian things and customs strange, yet they are completely natural for us. Cultural differences can often make us laugh and we have now decided to share some of them with you. In the following article we have collected the questions most frequently asked by foreigners about our country and we answer them as well!
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Yes, our first name is the last and our last name is the first. But in many cases, even if we are told the full name of an individual, we still don't know how to call that person. You are now probably wondering how that is possible. Well, the answer's quite simple. Let's take Kovács Józsefné (English equivalent: Mrs. Joseph Smith) for example. It's her name, but we cannot call her by either of those, because she didn't tell us her forename, or rather her maiden name.
(Főzelék is a type of thick Hungarian stew. It's special in Hungarian cuisine as it's not quite like a soup, but it's thinner than a stew. It doesn't have a proper English translation.)
We are not a particularly vegetable-eating nation, but if we eat vegetables and it doesn't go into the soup, then we cook it to a pulp, likely mash it a little, then add a bit of oily cream, just so it doesn't end up being too healthy. Yes, we mainly like it in főzelék.
It's only a step from here when we find out that 'light meals' for us aren't kinds of salads, which we don't really eat in and of itself, only along with some juicy meats, but say túrós csusza. It barely has any meat after all. A little bacon really does not matter and a bit of sour cream just makes it all slide down better.
(Túrós csusza is a Hungarian savoury curd cheese noodle dish or cottage cheese noodle dish made with small home-made noodles or pasta and bacon. It is a traditional pasta dish in Hungarian cousine.)
Many foreigners wince when they hear us use the word néger and many start whispering remarks that you just can't use this word. Truth be told, you can find a plethora of malicious and prejudiced comments in Hungarian, but even despite its similarity in both looks and in meaning to a very offensive English word, néger is not one of these.
The closer we are to someone, the meaner jokes we can tell at the expense of them, but when we let loose a quirk, it is highly likely that we are not trying to be evil, but rather trying to make friends. We just do it in a weird way.
So if you hear a joke from Hungarians, don't take it as an insult, because that was not the intention. I can assure you that if a Hungarian wants to make fun of you, you will be able to tell and won't have any doubts about their intentions.
When we ask questions like: 'Do you not want some soup?' 'Don't you want to go to the movies?' and 'Haven't you seen my glasses?' we do not ask them in this manner because we are hopeful for a negative response, but simply because we usually ask questions this way and because we find it more courteous.
This is mainly the question of foreigners from larger, sometimes even continent-sized countries: have you been everywhere in Hungary? Yes, it is a small country, but it's not the Vatican, we haven't seen every square inch of it, in many cases we haven't even been to every province.
It is likely that we can tell you a thing or two about Budapest and our birthplace, as well as a few larger settlements, but no, we cannot tell you under which number the Smiths live in the Kossuth street of Balmazújváros.