“The Epitome of Nonchalance and Cynicism” – Hungary’s Jewry Outraged by Flagrant Mistranslations

Ladies and Gents, you are about to be introduced to the funniest, yet perhaps the most serious translation scandal of the year! I remember how hard it would have been to ignore the enormous media coverage received by the fake sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s funeral last December. The story was all over the news, leaving audiences all around the world in a daze. A number of rather pathetic mistakes on a recently erected memorial in Budapest, however, managed to crank up the tension in the political upheaval which turned Hungary’s Jewry against the country’s government.

Continue reading

Last Name First, First Name Last!

Finishing this post brought me so much satisfaction that I decided to have it proofread by a friend of mine immediately. He looked at me with a rather cold smile and said, “Yeah, it’s alright, but it’s quite similar to one of your older posts. In fact, it’s exactly the same!” And at that point I realised I had rewritten an article from 9 months ago. It’s 100% the same, have a look! (Excuse the joke, I’m just too busy to write a brand new article right now, so I thought I’d take an old one and give it a better name. Enjoy it, nevertheless!) Continue reading

My name in 43 scripts – Exploring the world’s writing systems: Level 1

“43 scripts? You must have put a lot of effort into that!” Indeed, thank you! Let this be my excuse for delaying my new series of articles as much as I possibly could. So, let’s talk about the series. The next 7 articles, this one included, will consist of me going on about my experiences with writing my given name (Bálint, in case you’re wondering) in 43 different scripts. I’m not going to sound modest at all but I must tell you that every single one of them required an in-depth study of the writing system. Should you use the wrong tone marker on a mid-class sonorant consonant in Thai or type the wrong conjunct symbol in Oriya and you’ll end up with a wrong transcription! Oh, and I haven’t yet mentioned the struggle with fonts, and keyboard layouts, and Unicode and all the rest… Nevertheless, I had a lot of fun, and I hope you will too! Continue reading

Best of 2013 – The 15 Most Popular Articles of the Year

First of all, I wish you all a New Year that brings luck and prosperity, fills your home with joy and spirit, and gives you new confidence and courage for a fresh start. Let me re-introduce the 15 most visited posts of 2013 on ‘I wish to be a polyglot!’. It seems to be quite a diverse list of articles, which encourages me to continue exploring a wide range of topic areas in the New Year. With over 5000 views and 120 comments, my blog has become my proudest achievement of 2013 – besides my GCSE results, of course. I would like to thank you all for being kind enough to sacrifice some time and have a quick look at the stuff that go through my mind. Oddly enough, your comments indicate that some of you even consider my articles ‘interesting’ – special thanks for that! A propos, I am aware of the issue with the comments and promise to answer them all as soon as possible. Continue reading

10 Celebrity Names You’re Probably Saying Wrong

Having your name pronounced the wrong way is never a good experience, believe me. But can you imagine what Ralph Fiennes, Zooey Deschanel, Matt Groening and many other celebrities have to go through when millions of people fail to pronounce their names every day? With the help of Nyest.hu, Business Insider and Wikipedia‘s pretty useful IPA transcriptions, I will now attempt to reveal the truth about some of the world’s most commonly mispronounced names. Continue reading

How Specific Are You? – Kinship Terminology across Cultures

“I saw your sister and your uncle yesterday!” Oh, really? Great, but was it my younger sister or my elder one? Or do you mean my cousin? And, by the way, which of my uncles: my mum’s brother or my dad’s? Actually, it could also be the husband of my mum’s sister! Can you please be more specific? I know, it’s not your fault, the kinship terminology of the English language is quite limited.

Languages use different systems of terminology to refer to the individuals a person is related to, due to their unique classification of kinship relations. Since the topic is too complicated to be explored thoroughly in an article like this, I don’t intend to go into much detail. Instead, I will just pick out a few interesting aspects and compare the way they appear in different languages and cultures. Continue reading

My adventures in 10 languages

I have to admit that finding a title for this article took me “slightly” more than a second. By saying ‘adventures’ I intend to refer to my encounters with certain foreign languages – yes, this is what the article will be about. And by saying ’10 languages’ I mean that I will try my best at telling each little story in the corresponding language. I would like to emphasise that, even if the quality of my writing disproves this fact, the paragraphs below are not a result of clicking the ‘Translate’ button on our favourite instant translator website. It’s not worth copying the story of my English adventure from my introduction, so I shall move on to Hungarian, which will be followed by a bit of French, Neo-Ugric, German, Lingua Franca Nova, Modern Hebrew, Italian, Greek and Esperanto. In case you have some knowledge of any of these languages, I would appreciate if you could give me some feedback on my attempt, by leaving a comment on this post. Continue reading