Friday, March 04, 2005

Put in a Sock!

"Put a sock in it!" This is what I would say to the Nasty Troll that lives in the flat above me, if I could. Maybe: "Betesz egy szoknya!" But I think this is "put in a sock!" and what if such a sartorial idiomatic expression does not even exist in Hungarian? In fact, I'm sure it doesn't.

So you see, it's me with the sock stuck in her mouth. Stymied by my inept Hungarian. I do know how to say "shut up!" : "csend legyen!" pronounced "chend ledyen," but how could I stop there? I want to say so many things to the Nasty Troll Husband. I want to convey some imaginative suggestions about where he should go and about what he should do with himself. But instead I am made dumb by my ignorance of his language. How many times have I put on my coat and my shoes determined to intervene in the horrible yelling and fighting that goes on above me? I stand in my bedroom, looking in the mirror, fists clenched, getting ready for a fight. No apathetic bystander am I. I was born a scrappy little bitch and a scrappy little bitch I remain.

But then I think, "Audra, what would the Dalai Lama do?" and then my resolve to rumble falters, and I take off my coat once more. The D.L. would do something, I'm sure, but he wouldn't get in a fight. But unfortunately, I'm not clever enough to know what it is.

I haven't always been so aware of the Nasty Troll Huband. He hasn't always been like this, and it's not every day, but it has gotten progressively worse. The nadir was when I had the flu about a month ago: every day that I was bed-ridden he was yelling in his guttural troll voice, stomping, slamming doors, heavy things slamming to the ground (maybe his wife). And I with a fever, delirious, tossing, turning, soaking, a phantasmagoria of violent dreams, a noxious combination of the violence raining down on me in the dark and the virus attacking my insides.

I've stood on the stairs outside their door before, ready. Ready for what exactly, I don't know. Maybe I was preparing myself for my own battle.

The violence of yelling is insupportable for me. And yet I have supported it. I will not do that anymore. Such gentle, kind boys I had in my past, and then I allowed my own troll to scream the most hateful things at me. How did I allow this to happen? I do not know. But the important thing is that it won't happen again. I'm putting a stop (sock) to it.

From József Attila’s poem, “Levegőt!” or “A Breath of Air!”

Felnőttem már. Szaporodik fogamban
Az idegen anyag,
Mint szívemben a halál. De jogom van
És lélek vagy agyag
Még nem vagyok nem oly becses az irhám,
Hogy érett fővel szótlanul kibírnám,
Ha nem vagyok szabad!

and in English translation:

Now I have grown up. There is more foreign
matter in my teeth,
more death in my heart. But I still have rights
until I fall apart
into dust and soul, and now that I've grown up
my skin is not so precious that I should put up
with the loss of my freedom.


At 8:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

there's nothing a good ol' bottle of whiskey won't fix. Be sure to finish off the bottle before you smash it over his head, you wouldn't want to waste a drop on that troll.

I have missed you so much latley, I put a picture of you, some guy, and a moon pie up on my fridge.

At 9:39 PM, Blogger Irma Vep said...

I saw the word "whiskey" and I just KNEW!!! You don't understand,...I have tears running down my face,...SO SO happy you left a comment. So ok I've had a couple beers but still I really miss you so much too.

I tried drinking some whiskey recently in your honor, and I'm sorry to say I don't think I'm woman enough. Maybe if you were with me?

Can you PLEASE come to Budapest and let's smoke weed and drink whiskey and be bad ass punk rockers together and tear Budapest a new asshole?

At 5:02 PM, Blogger Vándorló said...

Ways of saying 'shut up' are many and varied, mainly due to the large proportion of the pars opercularis (see notes on language and brain at Hungarian brains have dedicated to constructing insults or swearing.

Try the simple 'kuss', but only use this when you are really frustrated. It can be quite a shock for a Hungarian to have an expat say this to them e.g. Kuss mar!!

As for 'put a sock in it', you just needed to use the imperative, which means splitting up the verb to put the 'be' after the main part e.g 'tedd be a szoknyat!'

Hope that helps!

At 6:19 PM, Blogger Vándorló said...

It was bugging me, but the best way of saying 'put a sock in it!' in Hungarian is 'fogd be a szad!'. You might want to try the sock thing, if only to bewilder him. Best of luck.

At 9:08 PM, Blogger judyjudy said...

please, sock means zokni and not szoknya! but vandorlo has right about saying kuss or fogd be a szád. happy to read you, audra. have you ever been out from budapest in hungary? i could show you szeged and the neighbourhood once.

At 10:51 PM, Blogger Irma Vep said...

I always do that with "szoknya" and "zokni!" It's been very amusing for my Hungarian friends, but I really would like to straighten myself out one of these days.

Thank you both Vandorlo and judyjudy! Very helpful both. I've talked over the problem (which shows no signs of abating) with some different people, and I think a need some sort of 3rd party intervention, but it's good to have such phrases in my arsenal, in the interest of learning.

Vandorlo, I am really fascinated about how language influences thought-- I will check out the Harvard link you included.

Judyjudy, yes, I have been out of Budapest. To Sopron, and then to many little villages in the north. I've spend a night in a castle in Szirák, and I went to a folk festival in Hollókö. Really, I am a big dirty city sort of girl, but at this point I love everything Hungarian so much that I do get a lot of enjoyment from visiting other parts of Hungary as well. I would like to explore Szeged at one point-- that's extremely sweet of you!

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