The Secret Language

Although one in five people in the U.S. speak a second language at home, my family seems to think we’re the only people on the planet that are multi-lingual, so they call Hungarian “The Secret Language”. Although my mother and I usually have conversations in English, she starts speaking in Hungarian when she wants to tell me something that she doesn’t want anyone else to hear (including the government, who she is convinced has tapped our phone lines).

Of course, they never taught me Romanian because this was the “Super-Secret Language” they could use to talk about me. I complained about this to my Romanian roommate in college, so she phoenetically wrote down, “Mom, I know what you are saying, stop talking about me” in Romanian. I did the best I could to memorize this, and when mom started speaking to Nagymama in Romanian about their secret plans to kill me or something, I repeated, “Mamă, nu mai vorbi despre mine, ştiu ce spui.” They both looked pretty shocked for about a minute, and then they just continued their conversation…in German. Damn you Europeans, you’re all too smart.

I will never forget the day when we went to a full-day festival and stopped by the local administration building to grab a schedule of events. We hadn’t even entered the building before we were halted by a woman blocking the doorway, obviously too busy talking on her cell phone to pay attention to where she was walking. Nagymama doesn’t like waiting for anyone, so she looked at me and loudly proclaimed, “Néz,es a kövér disznó! Az arca pont ug nez ki mend eg ló.” Rough English translation? “Look at this fat swine walking here. Her face looks just like a horse.”
Nagymama must have forgotten that The Secret Language” does not work when you are at the annual indoor-outdoor festival of New Brunswick that features dancing, food, and most importantly…Hungarians. Yes, dear Nagymama said this right in front of the Hungarian Heritage Center, and judging by the look on the woman’s face, she definitely had some Hungarian Heritage in her.

Eh, what can you do? You shoud be able to say whatever the heck you want when you’re in your 90’s.