Tag Archives: Hungary

Bucharest NOT Budapest: One Romanian Chocolatier Starts a Campaign to Combat the Confusion

Here’s a post from The Big Show’s Nina Porzucki

Think fast, what’s the capital of Romania?

In an extremely informal survey at the Dunkin Donut’s across the street from our newsroom we put the question to Herman Cadena as he stood in line for his coffee.

“Belgrade?” he said.

Cadena isn’t alone. Many people confuse their Eastern European capitals. The most frequent mix-up is between the capital of Hungary, Budapest, and the capital of Romania, Bucharest.

There is a long list of outsiders who have confused the two including Michael Jackson, the lead singers of Iron Maiden and Metallica, even Lenny Kravitz didn’t know.

Last year a group of 400 soccer fans from Spain chartered a flight to the 2012 Europa League Final in Budapest except the actual final was in Bucharest.

“This is a very old problem for Romania this confusion, you know, it’s taken place for a very long time,” says Romanian copywriter Sebastian Olar.

Olar’s client the Romanian candy company ROM was sick of the confusion. The company made it its mission to end the confusion and market its chocolate, which has the name of Romania’s capital stamped into each bar.

The confusion is by no means one-sided. Budapest resident Ben Fischer remembers watching the television one day when big news broke about a Hungarian political scandal.

“There were foreign news agencies reporting on it and quite a few of them in Budapest said, ‘I’m here live in Bucharest,'” said Fisher.

However says Fischer, the annoyance that Hungarians and Romanians feel about the confusion might stem from even deeper historical issues going back to WWI.

“Transylvania was taken away from Hungary and given to Romania, and 100 years later people in Hungary have not giving that back,” said Fischer.

While the borders between the countries have fluxuated, Budapest and Bucharest haven’t changed hands; Hungarian and Romanian, the languages spoken in these cities, come from completely different family trees. So locals know the difference but the rest of us, well…it seems that ROM chocolate has got their work cut out for them.



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Banning Hungarian, swearing for pain relief, and dog barks translated

clarklostFor this month’s language news podcast, I roped in The World’s Online Editor Clark Boyd. In a former life, Clark taught English in Hungary — yes that’s a barely younger version of him posing beneath the signpost. He, of course, has some choice stories about that time. (I wish I could offer up a hyperlink here…) He and I chose the following stories:

5. Slovakia passes a law banning Hungarian in official communications in some of its Hungarian-speaking regions. The is just the latest in a long-running series of bureaucratic battles between this small country’s Slovak-speaking majority and its Hungarian minority. Hungarians are getting used to this. Because they found themselves on the losing side in World War One, their country contracted. That left millions of Hungarian speakers living in surrounding nations, primarily Slovakia, Romania and Serbia. And aside from –in some cases — sharing the same script, the Hungarian language bears no similiarities to the languages spoken in these countries. Cue suspicion, fear and loathing.

bilingual4. New research out of Italy seeks to show why babies and young children are so adept at learning two languages simultaneously. It’s more evidence of the possible advantages — social and neurological — that bilingual speakers have over monolinguals. Above is a picture I took inside a Phoenix-area elementary school that has had to change its curriculum because it was deemed to be teaching “too bilingually.”bowlingual
3. Stereotyped Japanese toy story alert: toy maker Takara Tomy has come up with a device that claims to translate dog noises into human language. . That language, for the time being, is Japanese, so it might not work for you. This may or may not be entirely a gimmick. But even if there is something to the translation “algorithm,” do you ready want to know what pooch is saying? $220 will buy you a Bowlingual.

2. Six years ago, the Malaysian government ordered its public schools to start teaching math and science in English. After several protests, mainly from ethnic Malays, the government has lifted the requirement, so that schools can choose which language to use. The main languages of instruction there are Bahasa Malay, Chinese and Tamil. This will please rural schools where finding a English-speaking math or science teacher was vitually impossible. But the fear now is that Malaysia may fall further behind the the likes of Singapore and Hong Kong in producing a tech-smart, English-speaking younger generation.

swear1. Good news for people who occasionally swear: results from a new study show that the trangressive nature of cursing helps when it comes to tolerating pain. You can keep your hand submerged in a jar of ice for longer if you put filthy words to your feelings. Try it at home! However, this methodology won’t work if you are a over-sweary person, you swear constantly even in your most painless moments: the curses will have lost their meaning.

A bonus this week: our favorite hated words. This is inspired by the Ledbury Poetry Festival in England which asked poets to come up with their least favorite words. The winner: pulchritude — not a bad word till you know what it means: beauty. Clearly, it needs a meaning reset. How about the lingering smell of garbage? Other words Clark and I discuss: benign, dadrock, homeland and alien.

Listen in iTunes and here.

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