Famous Hungarian translators

Kattintson ide, hogy magyarul is elolvashassa.

Paul Auster once wrote that “translators are the shadow heroes of literature”.

Well…, unfortunately he was quite right. All right, in recent years translators have got their small share of the spotlight thanks to Deborah Smith, her Han Kang translation and the Man Booker Prize. However, most readers couldn’t care less about all those hardworking translators who bring foreign literature to them in their own mother tongue. Translators most often remain forgotten and abandoned. They are usually mentioned in a minuscule font on the imprint page – or not even that. All their dedication, late nights and tireless efforts usually go unnoticed and unappreciated.

Or, even if they work tirelessly creating a version of your favourite author’s latest book, so that you can read it in your own language, they are not recorded for posperity as translators but something else: Calvinist pastors, teachers, poets or politicians. I’m not saying it is a bad thing to be known as a great poet but still. These distinguished people deserve some acknowledgement as translators, as well.

This is why I collected a few of Hungary’s famous people who you might know from your religious studies, from history books, from the news or as muses of influential poets… but not necessarily as talented translators.

Click on the images below to enlarge them.

Do you feel I missed a famous person who deserves to be mentioned amongst these great translators? Would you like to nominate someone for this list? Let me know in the comments below or drop me a line via my contact form!

What should I call you?

EN

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?”