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  • Writer's picture Kester Eddy

"What I did on Wednesday ..." – a different kind of KesterGuesterTester - KGT111 (Updated x 4)

Updated: 6 days ago

You don't have to speak Hungarian to sleuth this unique, joint-venture Tester – it might help, on the other hand, it might not - heh-heh-heh :)

Photo: Alright, I admit this gentleman is almost certainly on the vino, not pálinka. And, if I remember correctly, it was a Monday, way back in May, 1992 when I took this piccie in a village, or perhaps it was just a tanya, a lonely farm, on a foray in the region of Kiskőrös - Soltvadkert, about 100 km south of Budapest. (In other words, this pic is only for illustrative purposes.) It's only now I have noticed the incredible focus of the man's eye as he looks at me. I suspect this lovely couple are no longer in this world.


I know many of the classical KesterTesters can be too easily sleuthed by the astonishing power of the internet/IT these days, so I've been thinking for some time of something different, and with the help of Mr Mystery Man, I've come up with this Hungarian sentence.


"Szerdán a családommal szénát kaszáltam, a barátaimmal beszéltem, az unokámmal galuskát ebédeltem, málnás rozskalácsot uzsonnáltam, sztrapacskát szilvapálinkával vacsoráztam." 


Now I couldn't translate it perfectly - I'd never come across the verb kaszál nor its past kaszáltam before - but using google translate, I got this (except I changed what to me is the annoying German-influenced American English 'talked with' to 'talked to').


Mr Mystery Man agreed it was an accurate translation.


"On Wednesday, I mowed hay with my family, talked to my friends, had dumplings for lunch with my grandson, snacked on raspberry rye cake, and had a strapac with plum schnapps for dinner."  


For those with little or no knowledge of Hungarian cuisine strapac /sztrapacska is a kind of dough-dumpling, and pálinka (as in szilvapálinkával) has been translated here to the German word Schnapps - meaning a distilled spirit from plums.


Now - for the grand, double prize of global fame and celebrity status, plus the inalienable right to buy myself and Mr Mystery Man two beers a piece!! - What is special about this Hungarian sentence?


(I hope this is not too controversial!) Answers please via the site messaging system or via email - please write KGT111 in the subject line so I don't lose your brilliant sleuthing!


And yes, or no, I haven't given the answers to KT109 yet - I'll try to do this in the next few days - but you can still have a go at it before then!


Have a great, hard-sleuthing week!


Update01 – Contestants so far & Extra Clue


Well, I thought some readers would get this, but it seems to be quite difficult. I suspect you need more help. Well, Jerry Taylor certainly does:


Hi Kester

Two things

1: he’s referring to Wednesday and it’s only Monday

2: he’s cutting hay in May? Fast growing season you have here in Hungary!

Right or wrong I’ll buy you a birthday pint next time I see you

Cheers, Jerry”


Mr Mystery Man and myself hadn't counted on your expert agricultural knowledge, nor your tempus awareness coefficient, Jerry. But keep reading.


László Jakabfi felt there was a lack of detail on the dietary intake of our mowing hero.


The sentence says nothing about what the guy had for breakfast. This sentence suggests he did his work mowing, he mowed hay with his family on a empty stomach, while the sentence gives details about what he had for lunch, for afternoon snack and for dinner.”


Well, he surely made an early shot of pálinka do the job for breakfast, László?

Over in the Royal County of Berkshire, Linda Shockey just wants the solution.


Do reveal the answer!! Linda S” 


All in good time, Linda! Patience (and hard sleuthing) are virtues! But I expected more from you - I thought you'd appreciate the challenge.


Mihály Hollós was being totally honest, transparent and terribly worthy.


Hello Kester,

Being a native speaker of Hungarian, I disqualify myself from the contest regarding KGT111.

(BTW, there is something about the sentence I find not so much special as odd, but I don’t think it is what you mean when you call it special.)

Best, - Misi”


Misi – half the readership of this blog is Hungarian. Indeed, that's half the point of this particular KesterGuesterTester :) Try some more, please.


And he did.


OK, Kester.

First, a szénát nem kaszálják. (You don’t mow hay.)”


Hmmmm. Another reader with a PhD in agriculture. Fair point (see Kata's response), but t'ain't the right answer.


Second, it would be more correct to say, …’ beszélgettem a barátaimmal.”


I see, as in “I was chatting away to my friends” - something like that, eh? You have a PhD in Hungarian grammar to boot, I detect, Misi.


Third, in some instances the Word order in the sentence is "un-Hungarian”.

Also, even these oddities aside, this is not really the way someone with a rural background speaks.

Best, Misi”


Aha! You might be onto something there, Misi. Not exactly a hot clue, but … a clue, nevertheless. You could ponder along that route a bit more, it might lead you to the pot of gold and me to two beers. Well, one each for myself and Mr Mystery Man.


Priit Pallum is one reader always willing to 'have a go'.


Hi, 

Just 2 guesses: either representing all the possible sz, cz etc combinations in Hungarian language (not sure though) or all substantive words having long vowels.


Or both. Or totally wrong.”


Oooooer. I like your thinking, Priit. There's a logic to it, and it might, by pure chance, even be correct, although it's not the answer we're looking for. But I'd like to reward your effort, so you can buy me one beer for such a thoughtful answer.


About the photo - are you sure wine was sipped from those glasses 30 y ago.  And before that poured into a carafe. I would think this is still the real drink. Shades of gray indicate this would have otherwise been a very messy white, or perhaps rose, wine. Which would be in contradiction to the emotions.

Best regards, Priit”


Well, I definitely can't be sure, Priit, but I have a strong belief that, since I was driving that day, I would have been most unwise to try any of the hooch he had in those containers. (I can't remember if he offered me any, though I'm sure he did.)


Meanwhile, Kata Erdős wins the Perspectives Budapest KesterTester Diligent Reader 2024 award for sleuthing away late yesterday.


Hi Kester, 


kaszál / kaszálok / kaszált etc. It is your native language, of course, but if we do some plant re-arrangement with a scythe (kasza), then I'd rather call it reaping (and not mowing).Have a nice weekend, Kata”


She even sent in some photos of folk hard at work with scythes – which is helpful for those who are not Hungarian and not even native speakers of English – scythe, after all, is not exactly on the list of the first 1,000 words in English you normally need to learn.


Message for Kata - I think that's a rake in the colour piccie on the right!


What's more, a light has turned on in my head, Kata. Now you mention the noun, I'm pretty sure I have come across the word kasza for a scythe.


Indeed, we would do the same in English (assuming Jerry would let us take a scythe out of the tool barn in May) – we turn it into a verb and would scythe hay. We would reap wheat or barley. I think the word 'reap refers to the whole process of cutting the storks, then winnowing the cut crop to separate out the precious grain from the straw - I think, but I haven't got a PhD in agriculture.


Whatever, it certainly sounds better than 'mow', so thanks for that.


But since nobody, so far, has managed to sleuth the answer, I need to give you all another clue or two – which gives me a headache, of course. How to give a clue without making the answer obvious? Hmmm.


OK, I'll say this: Think historically and/or linguistically.


There you go, you can't say I'm a heartless, cruel KesterTesterSetter after that, can you?


I expect a flood of correct answers now, all labelled KGT111!


UPDATE02 - More punts and YET more clues (Sunday, 10th March)


Hmmmm. My generous new clue didn't exactly have my mailbox bubbling over, alas.


I did get one correct answer, pretty much correct at least – but EU rules don't allow close family to enter the competition, let alone win it. (Brussels can be annoying, as a certain politician not far from here is continually pointing out.)


Apart from that, my wife refused to buy me one beer, let alone two, so I nixed her entry! There is still all to play for!


Katalin Erdős wrote in, however.

 

OK, Kester.


First, a szénát nem kaszálják. (You don’t mow hay.)

Looks like I need to claim my agricultural PhD here (you made me do it! )

but I think what he meant was that we scythe (verb here) grass (fű), and dried baled grass is what's called hay (széna)...


Best, Kata"


I'm not quite sure who he is here, Kata, but never mind. Anyway, just when I thought that was that, she added


PS, I presumed the whole Hungarian sentence had some hidden meaning, so that's why I din't even mention that.

Also, shot in the dark, but could the sentence refer to all neighbouring countries of Hungary (at one point of time) ?

Hay might mean Ukraine (though frankly wheat would be much better), strapac could stand for Slovakia, and maybe even the raspberry and mák together signifies... some country ...  

On second thought, the hay maybe stands for Austria?? 

OK, officially I'm intrigued.”


<Kester draws breath> Hmmmm. That would be incredibly cryptic, Kata. However, I don't want to put you off your thinking here. All I can say is that it's not as cryptic as that.


Steven Nelson next swooped in, claiming this was a piece of cake.


What is special about that Hungarian sentence? Easy - these are things you have to do all in one day to qualify for Hungarian citizenship.

Source: became a naturalized Hungarian citizen in 2014.

Pista”


Mow or scythe hay, Pista? The latter sounds incredibly dangerous – may the naturalisation office wants to limit the number of new citizens?


Dale Martin then had a crack.


Dear Kester,


I enjoy reading/following your challenges!

Concerning the special Wednesday menu of the gentleman, it is obviously vegetarian


With very best wishes, Dale 


Interesting point, there Dale. You know, you could just be onto something. I mean, there could be a reason for that. :)


But as this still seems tough, I pondered what additional clue I could give, but before I could work something out, Mr Mystery Man came to my rescue – and, intriguingly, it was triggered by László Jakabfi's answer in the first round. László had opined that:


The sentence says nothing about what the guy had for breakfast. This sentence suggests he did his work mowing, he mowed hay with his family on an empty stomach, while the sentence gives details about what he had for lunch, for afternoon snack and for dinner.”


Well, László, in a way, you have happened upon a clue here. You see, as Mr Mystery Man put it, the word for 'breakfast' - reggeli - was deliberately omitted from this sentence of what happened on Wednesday.


What's more, our friend could not have done the things he did on either Monday or Tuesday. (That is my extra, generous clue.)


There. Think about that! I'm not saying any more. I await a veritable tsunami of answers now.

Have a good week!


UPDATE03


Dear Sleuthers,


I am distraught and could not enjoy my March 15 because none of you out there have found the answer to this KGT111 szuper tester.


As my soft heart cries for you all agonising over this, myself and Mr Mystery Man put our heads together to give you yet ANOTHER clue to help you nail this one and have a weekend anticipating the chance of winning global celebrity status - yes, up there with Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts in terms of selfies requested on a daily basis.


So here you go (in the context of this original Hungarian sentence): believe it or not, our subject might, in addition to the menus already stated, have eaten pisztrang (Hungarian for trout) or csuka (pike) with zsir (fat) for supper.


Yet, strange as it may appear, he/she could not have eaten hal (fish) or  vaj (butter), nor any kenyér (bread).


Now that's something to think about over the weekend, isn't it? :)


So have a good, hard ponder - and a great long weekend :)


UPDATE04 - Finally, finally ... the result!


Well, this tester certainly proved to be harder than I imagined, although I must congratulate those who've 'had a go' – we've had some intriguing suggestions (and once again, sorry for the delay in getting round to this – it's been a very long running tester).


After my soft heart provided the third set of clues, Willard Dickerson wrote in to suggest:


Perhaps all the key words contain one of the Hungarian double consonants: sz, zs, cs, or a double consonant due to the addition of a suffix?


Will


I think they probably do, Will – but that wasn't the 'real' common factor, if you see what I mean.


Alan Sutton swept by:


Dear Kester


So he's a vegan? Very unusual in Hungary


I suppose it is, but not impossible these days, you know.


David McCall got really technical.


Well, Kester, this is a tough one. I'm not sure whether I am on the right track, but digging into my linguistic background, and I may have come up with a possible answer.


As we know, there is no single "Hungarian accent of dialect," and Hungarians from various areas are often easily identified by their accents. I always found the Budapest dialect to be fairly monotone, and I may be reading too much rural dialect into this query. But here it goes anyway. 


I believe you have composed a cinquain (sometimes known as a quintain), with an abbaa rhyme scheme.”


Ooooh, gosh, David, you have me flummoxed there.


Of course, this doesn't come out in the English translation, but the more times I read through the Hungarian, the closer I feel I am to heading to a tanya for a disznotor (which your friend neglected to do during the week).”


ER.... more flummoxation, I'm afraid, but carry on David.


That said, it would have been linguistically more interesting had you included a prepositional phrase in the second line, like "barataimmal politikarol beszeltem," which would have made all five consistent in having noun, verb, object and prepositional phrase.”


Although I see that your "malnas" doesn't fit that pattern either, so you could have changed that to "fiammal" or something. And by the time I have finished with you, you would have an entirely different sentence structure, which would fit my linguistic definition, even though it would be quite different from what you were probably striving for!”


Crikey.


This is also the first time I have heard of "malnas rozskalacs," but that may be something worth trying someday. 


Thinking a bit further, rather than talking to/with friends about politics, something food-related would be better, since all the other phrases include something food related. Maybe you could talk with/to your friends about breakfast, since that is the meal you left out!”


As noted earlier, there is a reason for that … read on!


All-in-all, I think I'm totally off base, and my argument only has meaning if we reconstruct the sentence significantly. So forget about this whole section! 


Hope all is well with you! 

David McCall”


What to say after all that? Well, sorry, David, but as far as I know, yes, you are rather off base.


LATE ADDITION - I've just realised that I missed one entry earlier - John Cantwell wrote in to say:


"So you have subtly inferred that this sentence was not actually spoken by the wine drinking man in the photo."


Inferred, John? I thought I made it plain and clear.  


"My guess is this is a contrived text for educational or illustrative purposes, to demonstrate the complexity of the Hungarian language, possibly for the specific goal of highlighting the different uses of the val/vel ending."


Well, it is definitely somewhat contrived, and in some ways for the reason(s) you give, but there is much more to it than that. Read on!


I must say, I am surprised this was so difficult, but it only goes to show what I thought in the first place is, well, more than rather true.


I mean, Hungarians are very proud of their language – and why not? Hungarian has some very splendid idioms and the agglutonous system (meaning, you add endings rather than prepositions, as in English) can be very efficient in terms of letters used.


But sometimes I feel Hungarians are a little bit too proud, if you see what I mean.


Hungarian belongs to the Uralic language group, which makes it rather different from most languages in Europe, the vast majority of which belong to the Indo-European language group.


But although Hungarian belongs to a totally different language group, it has …. well, rather than me tell you what is special here, let Viktor Friedmann provide the answer.


Hi Kester,


The sentence is made up of words of Slavic (mostly Slovak) origin, e.g. malina, haluski, strapacky, cseljad, brat, seno, vecera, etc.


Best, Viktor”


Congratulations, Viktor! Entirely of Slavic words. Yup, that's it. Simples! (Or seemingly not so simples - not even for several regular readers who I know speak Hungarian and a Slavic language, including one noted champion sleuther.)


Indeed, Hungarian has many, many loan words, some fairly obvious (like vicc – if you know German) and lift – if you know (GB) English. But as I soon realised by dabbling in learning Slovene, I realised that Hungarian must have hundreds, if not thousands of words which orginate from Slavic languages, or entered Hungarian via Slavic languages.


So then, some months ago, in order to thwart the googlistas, I thought of making up a Hungarian sentence using just Slavic words for a KesterTester. And, indeed, I began listing words that I know originate from Slavic – which include at least three days of the Hungarian week – szerda, csütörtök and péntek, and quite a lot of words to do with food (eg goba - mushroom) and the house (eg szoba – room) Even the word tiszta (clean) comes from the Slavic.


But then I happened to meet György Ruszin, a Ruthene from Subcarpathia with a PhD in linguistics who absolutely bubbled over with language knowledge (including Russian and Hungarian), so I left the task up to him.


So next time you hear a Hungarian say: “Our language is unlike any other” or some such, you can now show him or her What I did on Wednesday to illustrate it may not quite be as simple as that. 


Thanks to everyone who had a shot, but especially to György Ruszin for his linguistic trickery and our glorious winner, Viktor Friedmann, who came to the rescue and prevented me from winning only my second KesterTester.


I'll post a more orthodox tester in a day or two.







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albynaustin
albynaustin
3月02日

Well yes scything hay, but remember the old English song, one man went to mow, went to mow a meadow, so mowing hay is an acceptable term,

cheers,

Albyn

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