Welcome Visitor
Tue, Feb 25, 2020
95 members currently online.

Folksong: A szegedi utca jaj, de sáros
O How Muddy Are the Streets of Szeged
A szegedi utca   The street(s) of szeged (Notice:
    singular for plural)
jaj, de sáros   (is) o, so muddy. (Notice:no verb!)
Végig menni rajta   Going along it
nem tanácsos,   is not advisable,
Mert megfognak engemet,   because they will catch me,
megkötik a kezemet   they will tie my hands,
a zsandárok   the gendarmes,
sej-haj a zsandárok.   hey-hey, the gendarmes.
De én könyörögni   But I know very well
nagyon jól tudok.   how to plead (beg).
Megkérem a híres    I will ask the famous
zsandár urakat:   sir gendarmes:
engedjék el a karom,   let them release my arm(s),
a babámat akarom   my sweetheart I want 
megölelni,   to embrace
sej-haj megcsókolni.   hey-hey, to kiss.

Szeged is an ancient city already mentioned in the 2nd century AD.  It is located in southeastern Hungary, and is the third largest Hungarian city.  Known for its production of paprika, brought here in the 16th century.  It straddles the Tisza River, near its confluence with the Maros River.  In Turkish times, it was the property of the sultan, which meant it had certain privileges.  (The making of slippers was taken over from the Turks at that time - szegedi papucs.)

Szeged was almost totally destroyed by the devastating flood of 1879.  The people then vowed to build a church, which was completed only after WWl, in 1930.  Called the Fogadalmi templom (Votive Church), it can accommodate 5,000 people.  Its organ is the 3rd largest in Europe, and its tower clock the largest in Hungary.

The city was rebuilt in the Art Nouveau style, which gives it a coherent look.  Nobel Prize winner Szent-Györgyi Albert did his research on Vitamin C here.

The first two lines (“A szegedi utca jaj, de sáros”) illustrate the principle that in Hungarian, the various forms of the verb “to be” often can be skipped: here, for example, the verb “is" is understood.

Hol (van) a gyerek?  Where (is) the child?

To which one might answer: Ott. Over there.

Similarly, prefixes can be used as an answer:

Elment már?  Has he/she gone (away) yet?

To which one could reply: El. (Or: Elment.  Or: Igen.)

Kivitted a szemetet?  Did you take out the garbage? (kivinni - take  out)

Answer: Ki.

Beengeded a macskát?  Will you let the cat in?  (beengedni - let in)

Answer: Be. (Present tense can also express future action).

Megette az egészet?  Did he/she eat it all?

Answer: Meg.

Túladtál rajta?  Have you passed it on?


zsandár- phonetic spelling of the French word “gendarme", which was taken over by the Austrians

Engedjék el a karom - let them release my arm (singular)

Parts of the body are usually referred to in the singular:

a kezem - my hand(s)

a lábam - my foot (feet)

a fülem - my ear(s)

a szemem - my eye(s)

az ujjam - my finger(s)

When we speak of one arm, or one leg, (which is half of two), we say:  

fél lábbal – lit.  with half a foot -

Fél lábbal már kinn volt. - He already had one foot outside. 

fél kézzel – lit.with half a hand –

Megfogtam a macskát fél kézzel. – I caught the cat with one hand.

fél füllel – lit.with half an ear

Fél  füllel hallottam . – I heard it with one ear. (I barely heard it.  I wasn’t paying attention.)


Printer-friendly format