Saturday, November 15, 2008

Speaking Frengarian

I was a Mormon missionary in Budapest, Hungary. I lived there for two years, and despite being out a decade out of daily practice, I still speak Hungarian fairly well. It’s not a very useful language out side of Hungary and certain areas of Cleveland, but it sure makes learning French seem easier.

Problem is, I still throw in Hungarian words when I’m trying speak French. The most frequent violations occur when I confuse the currencies. I mean to ask for francs and I ask for forints, and the cashiers look at me like I’ve got a second nose.

I also say “jo” a lot, which is Hungarian for “good.” If you’re speaking to someone in Hungarian, you can pepper the conversation with “jo…jo…jo…” as in, “I see…Uh-huh…Right…” But when someone’s speaking French to me, I find myself instinctively saying, “jo…jo…jo…” And because it’s pronounced “yo,” I’m sure I come across as an American gangsta wannabe saying, “Yo…Yo, my French hommie…Yo…”

At least it goes both ways. The other day someone asked me to speak some Hungarian so they could hear what it sounded like. I began speaking and started throwing in French words on accident.

I’m not sure if that’s progress, or just utter confusion.

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