National Day of Hungarian Culture – 22 January

Why today?

Today is the National Day of Hungarian Culture and if you are in Hungary you will find that there are countless cultural events going on this day, such as literary evenings, concerts, award ceremonies, art exhibitions… If you set foot in any school in the country, you will see school children performing, singing, reciting poems, and talking a lot about a Hungarian poet named Ferenc Kölcsey.

It’s not a coincidence that he is mentioned so much today: the National Day of Hungarian Culture is held on the anniversary of him finalising his most famous poem titled “Hymn”, a prayer to God, asking for protection for this tiny nation in the middle of Europe. He reminisces about the past starting with the settlement of the Hungarian tribes in the Carpathian Basin, then lists all the hardships of Hungarians throughout the centuries as God punished them for their sins. He asks God to bless the nation and offer a helping hand.

Some 20 years later another Ferenc, Ferenc Erkel won a competition with his musical arrangement for the poem, which soon gained popularity and people started to sing it at public events. Although there were some initiatives to make the poem and its musical version the national anthem of Hungary, as a reminder of the nation’s stormy past, it wasn’t until 1989 that it gained official recognition in the Constitution of Hungary.

It was also the year when the National Day of Hungarian Culture was celebrated on 22 January, to commemorate Ferenc Kölcsey and his poem.

The poem

Here is the first verse of the poem with a (more or less) modernised spelling, and its English translation by William N. Loew (1881):

Isten, áldd meg a magyart
Jó kedvvel, bőséggel,
Nyújts feléje védő kart,
Ha küzd ellenséggel;
Bal sors akit régen tép,
Hozz rá víg esztendőt,
Megbünhödte már e nép
A multat s jövendőt!

O, my God, the Magyar bless
With Thy plenty and good cheer!
With Thine aid his just cause press,
Where his foes to fight appear.
Fate, who for so long did’st frown,
Bring him happy times and ways;
Atoning sorrow hath weighed down
Sins of past and future days

The music

Listen to Erkel’s musical arrangement performed by Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir.

A quick guide to finding a translator you can trust

Kattintson ide, hogy magyarul is elolvashassa.

You have a copy to translate. It’s crucial that you end up with a good quality translation that’s accurate and reads naturally. Who should you ask? What background should they have? Where do you find them? So many questions, so many things to consider! What a headache!

In many language combinations there are thousands of translators out there – if not tens of thousands. Selecting the one for you might seem like an impossible, overwhelming task. But do not fret, there are a few pointers that may help you choose the best fit for your project.

First of all, let’s see who you’ll be looking for.

A professional translator.

While it’s tempting to ask one of your bilingual colleagues or a friend who took extracurricular language classes at school to translate your marketing copy or user manual, most often it’s not the right way to go. Not everyone who speaks two languages is a translator. Translation is a special skill that needs to be learnt and practised. Not using a professional translator may lead to inaccuracies, mistranslations, inappropriate terminology use, grammatical issues, and the list goes on…

A specialised translator.

A creative marketing copy will need a different kind of translator from a legal contract where the last thing you want from your translator is going creative. Just like you wouldn’t ask an eye surgeon to operate on your heart, for the best results you should find a translator who is specialised in the type of translations you are after, and knows the ins and outs of the given subject.

When should you start looking for the right professional?


As the saying goes, good work takes time, so don’t leave selecting your translator to the last minute. A good quality translation does not happen by the click of a button. The translator will need to read your copy carefully, analyse it, do their research, do their translation, check it carefully, proofread it and then re-check it.

Start your selection process as soon as your need for a translation arises. This will give you enough time to find the right person, agree on the details, and leave them enough time to actually complete the translation to a high standard.

What will you need from a professional translator?

The language.

As a rule of thumb, professional translators only translate into their mother tongue, or their language of habitual use. While they do need to have an excellent grasp of the source language (the language they translate from) to fully understand the intricacies of your text, in order to produce a copy that doesn’t read clunky or unnatural, they need to be able to masterfully manipulate their target language (the language they translate into).  

The papers.

Although there are some people who are naturally talented, the best of the best have a formal qualification in translation. This means they have a solid background in the theory as well as the practice of translation and their competencies have been formally tried and tested. Think university degrees or postgraduate diplomas in translation! For example, in the UK, if you find someone who holds a university degree in Translation Studies or a Diploma in Translation (affectionately called the “DipTrans”), that’s a good sign that you can trust their work.

The experience.

Translation skills are like a good wine: they need time to mature. The more a translator translates, the more confident they become. The more time they have had to learn from their clients’ or their peers’ feedback, the better their translations may become. They have had the chance to “meet” many different types of texts, improve their research skills, build up their personal reference-library, learn about various templates, hone their technical skills, etc. 

The gold standard: professional organisations.

Professional organisations make sure that they only allow people in their ranks who are committed to adhering to high standards. If the translator you are eyeing is a member of such an organisation, you can be sure they are just as keen on quality work and ethical business as you are. In the UK, look out for members of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) or the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL). 

So, where can you find these professional translators?

Professional organisations.

If you go directly to professional organisations, you can most probably find a trustworthy translator who will be a good match for your project: both the ITI and the CIOL have their own searchable online directories which list their qualified members.

Translation directories.

Another good place to find a translator is a site called Here you can search by language combination, filter by subject matter, check out translators’ profiles, look at testimonials and recommendations.

The world wide web.

Don’t forget… Google is your friend! Many professional translators have their own website you can search for and browse through. Their website will give you a bit more information about their background or how they work and you might even get a glimpse into their personalities, so you can see if you would like to collaborate with them.

I hope you found this quick guide useful and next time you need a translator, it will be easier to get the right person who can provide you with a high quality, well-written translation your business needs.


Did I miss anything? Do you have any nagging questions about translation and translators? Don’t keep them to yourself! Comment below and let’s start a conversation! 


Originally I posted this article on my LinkedIn page on 7 December 2018.

Get into the holiday spirit with me! (Special advent calendar)

Advent calenderWhere did this year go? It feels like we have just celebrated the holidays?! December is upon us but I am not quite sure I’m ready yet. I am pretty certain though that I am not alone with this!

Just to help me and you, my dear readers, get into the holiday spirit, I have planned something special this year: a Hungarian advent calendar! Every day leading up to Christmas, I will post a little trivia or fun fact about Hungary and the Hungarian language on my social media.

Did you forget to buy an advent calendar this year? Or just don’t want to eat chocolate all day? (Erm… wrong question, I know.) Are you thirsty for random facts about Hungary and Hungarian you can impress your friends with at up-coming Christmas parties? Then this alternative advent calendar is for YOU!

If you are not already following me on Twitter, head there right now and click FOLLOW or if you prefer Facebook, just like my page (LIKE HERE) to stay up-to-date with stuff!

Let’s get ready for the holidays together! 🙂

What should I call you?


informal formal pronoun

There is a short story by one of my favourite Hungarian writers, Frigyes Karinthy in which he introduces two men to us, “One” and the “Other” who have known each other for a decade or so, but have only met a few times. They are acquaintances but not too close. And now they meet again. Hilarity ensues as neither can tell how to address the other. They stand around on the street, having a full conversation trying to avoid saying the pronoun “you”, so that they don’t offend the other.

He?! How is that funny? – you might say. Well, in English this encounter would have lasted two seconds, but in Hungarian you can write an entire short story about it, as our language has that infamous T-V distinction, spiced up with some other delicacies. So, let’s get right into it. Continue reading “What should I call you?”