Happy World Poetry Day!

21 March is World Poetry Day and I wanted to do something special to celebrate it. I wanted to share my favourite poem with you but then I realised I don’t have one! I like many different poems for different reasons: there are happy poems, depressing poems, poems that make me think or just evoke a memory. It’s impossible to choose one!

In the end, with great difficulty I managed to pick one poem, Lédával a bálban by Endre Ady. I could not find an English translation though, so I ended up doing my own version. So here it is, both in Hungarian and English!

at the ball with leda
Click on the image to enlarge it.

Do you like poetry? Do you have a favourite poem? Or a bunch of favourite poems? Don’t keep it to yourself, comment below or drop me a line via my Contact Page.

The Ides of March

the ides of march

Et tu, Brute?

About 2000 years ago in Ancient Rome, on a lovely mid-March day when birdies were happily singing and the sun shone brightly high up in the sky, a bunch of conspirators mercilessly stabbed Julius Caesar in the back (quite literally). He was shocked to find his beloved friend amongst his murderers. “Even you, Brutus”, he whispered as life slowly left him. After he weakly uttered his last words on that spring day, all hell broke loose and a bloody civil war started.

But this is not the Ides of March event I want to talk about today.

We truly swear!

Picture another mid-March day, this time in 1848 in Budapest, Hungary. Another lovely day when birdies are happily singing and the sun shines brightly up in the sky. A young, thin little man – a poet – is running towards the popular Café Pilvax to meet with a few of his friends. This is no ordinary, friendly catch-up, though. Inspired by the unrest in other countries, they are preparing a revolution against Hungary’s rulers, the Hapsburgs!

Now, this scrawny little man (Sándor Petőfi his name is) stands up in the middle of that busy café and starts reciting his latest poem, National Song:

Rise, Magyar! is the country’s call:
The time has come, say one and all:
Shall we be slaves, shall we be free?
This is the question, now agree!
For by the Magyar’s God above
      We truly swear,
We truly swear the tyrant’s yoke
      No more to bear!

(translated by W. N. Loew)

An eventful day

After this, Petőfi and his friends are unstoppable: they go to the nearby law school and read the poem and a 12-point list of their demands to a crowd of excited law students. “What the Hungarian nation wants,” it echoes in front of the university, then they recite their demands: freedom of press, the abolition of censorship, independent Hungarian government, civil and religious equality, universal and equal taxation…

The crowd cheers and grows bigger and bigger as they move on, taking over a printer to get their demands on paper. Then they go to the National Museum reciting Petőfi’s poem and the 12 points. Next is the City Hall. They are ecstatic, cheering on, hoping that they will be able to get their points across to the “tyrants” of the country.

But shortly after the events of this exciting day, all hell breaks loose and a bloody war of independence starts.

The Hungarian spirit

Today the 15th of March – the Ides of March – is commemorated all around Hungary, and even amongst expat Hungarian communities in other countries. That day in 1848 is the symbol of the high-soaring Hungarian spirit: bravery, unity and the eagerness to change.  We honour these young, courageous people who dared to stand up to their oppressors and voiced their demands, trying to work towards a proud and free Hungary.

A bit of extra info

Hungarian cockade

On 15th March, we Hungarians wear a little piece of tricoloured cloth on our chest, above our heart: a cockade with our national colours, red, white and green. This little thing was and is the emblem of the revolution of 1848. The very first piece was made by Petőfi’s wife, Júlia Szendrey. Although history solely remembers her as the muse of the “Nation’s Poet”, she was great with words herself and was and excellent translator who brought the tales of Andersen to Hungarian readers for the first time.  

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.

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! 🙂

Translation and music

translation and music

Earlier this week I attended a super interesting public event that was part of a conference entitled “Women, Language(s) and Translation in the Italian Tradition”, organised by the University of Cambridge.

Translation and music

Although it doesn’t take much to lure me away from my desk for any translation-related event, I was particularly excited about attending this one. It was a talk followed by a concert! And not just any talk for that matter. Professor Jane Tylus (Yale University) talked about her recent research connecting music and translation, more specifically translation and musical accompaniment.

As in my formative years I was very much involved in music and had the chance to act as a piano accompanist to violinists and singers, and well… now I do translate for a living, I was curious to hear what Professor Tylus had to say about this topic.

The talk

She started her talk with a lovely excerpt by Lucrezia Tornabuoni, 15th century writer and political adviser, who translated the life of Tobias into Italian. Tornabuoni starts her work with a prayer asking God to send her something like the angel of translation to accompany her on her translation journey, just like Raphael provided companionship to Tobias on their expedition.

Funnily enough, the Italian word for translator, traduttore, originally meant “to lead over” or “to carry over”. Much like a companion on a long journey, right? From here, it takes just a small step to arrive at the notion of the translator as an accompanist or, if you like, the accompanist as a translator.

Both translators and accompanists are often regarded as secondary or subordinate to the author or the soloist. They are kind of lurking in the background, leaving all the glory to the “more important” person. Sometimes they even worry about overtaking the author/soloist. (Just think of the title of accompanist Gerald Moore’s memoire: Am I too loud?)

Professor Tylus is at the very beginning of her research into this, but I am really  excited to see what conclusions she will draw once it’s complete.

The concert

The concert afterwards perfectly complemented her talk. It started with an excellent Bach solo piece, originally a Partita for violin in D minor, which the performer herself, Joy Lisney arranged for cello. (Ha! Finding similarities between translation and musical arrangements could also be a great topic!) After the Bach, we went on to a beautiful Chopin Cello Sonata performed by Joy Lisney and Naomi Woo. Last but not least, the evening was concluded by Brahms’ Clarinet Sonata in E flat major, performed by Caroline Grint ad Naomi Woo. I very much enjoyed the individual pieces and liked the concept of the whole concert, too.

By starting the concert with a solo piece then continuing with two pieces accompanied by piano, the organisers invited the audience to think a bit about the relationship of the soloist and her accompanist. How do they work together? How does the accompanist help the soloist in her performance? And also, how does this all relate to translation?

During the concert I thought about how translators and accompanists are related. It’s true, their roles might be traditionally regarded as secondary to the main attraction. And sure, they don’t always get the same attention as their soloist or their author. However, I do think of them as partners, rather than just some extra help that makes things less awkward or strange. They both bring real value to the table and they are just as talented/educated/skilled/experienced/etc. as the soloist or the author, and without them, something would be truly lost. They both deserve credit and appreciation! They really do!

Ok, before I get completely overexcited about the role of these two, I’d like to ask you, my dear readers: what do you think about this? Is there anything similar between translators and accompanists? Or translation and music? What would you compare translation to?

Website news

Aniko Peto-Mordovski Hungarian translator
Photo by Nóra Hamucska

Welcome to my shiny new website!

You must have ended up here looking for a good Hungarian translator. Well, you are at the best place for finding one!

My name is Anikó Pető-Mordovski and I am an English-to-Hungarian translator. This is my very first blog post on my very new website, so I thought I would give you the grand tour!

First of all, I suspect you’d like to know a bit more about my work experience, educational background and memberships before you could decide on working with me. If this is indeed the case, check out my About Me page. Do you need some guidance on the services I offer? Just have a quick glance at my Services page. If you are still not quite sure whether I am the right fit for your project, read some Testimonials by some of my clients, don’t just take my word for it!

I bet you are wondering why on earth I chose the name Paprika Translations. You can also find that out on the page called Why Paprika.

If you are still left with questions about how I work and how I can help you with your Hungarian translation project, you can send me a quick message through my Contact page. Or, if you are more of a social media person, you can also find me on Facebook.