Language is not just words and grammar, it works by metaphors and allusions that make up (and also hide away) meanings which are indecipherable without the knowledge of the culture code. Every student of any foreign language is painfully aware how this meta-language lurking behind even the simplest of turns can make reception of even everyday speech such a precarious affair. For there may be worlds in a word, not unlike the boxes within boxes within boxes of a Chinese puzzle. And bilingual dictionaries, constructed on the principle of equivalence, do not help here, because they do not try to invoke the thoughts, concepts and images that are invoked for the native speaker upon hearing the name of a town or a region, a festival, a form of adress, a dish peculiar to his country or the lines of a song. For languages are made up of popular memories, myths and beliefs, customs and ever changing useage, words ring bell – and if our ears don’t hear their toll, life is merely a silent movie.
This book was born out of innumerable futile efforts to explain to visitors what is behind a gesture or a melody, a name, an attitude. It is both a guide to the “screts” of the Hungarian’s code-language and a concise cultural encyclopaedia of Hungarianness.
Size – 142mm x 192mm