Shocked noises filled the room, and I stared at the students with a confused look.
They explained, “Alex, you can’t say that word. It means something very bad in Hungarian.”
“Well, that’s going to be a problem,” I answered, “because we have to do this exercise and it requires us to say if the sentences are true or false.”
After thinking for a minute, they said, “What about saying it in a British accent so it doesn’t sound the same? That’s how we pronounce it.”
Laughing a little bit, I reminded them that they hate the “listening” exercises where we have to hear people speak in fake accents from a CD. They think they’re stupid and boring, and I think they’re ridiculous because they’re full of people using different accents, but the actor isn’t actually Australian or Scottish or whatever else he claims to be.
Throughout the exercise, they giggled each time I said “false,” and they told me over and over that I shouldn’t say it. Finally, I had to lay down the law and let loose a rapid fire string of “False false false false false false false false false false false.” This resulted in a mixture of looks. Some students looked like they wanted to cry, and others couldn’t stop laughing. One kid even told me that I’m the best teacher ever. He’s the same one that last week said he wants to nominate me for Teacher of the Year.
Needless to say, I decided to keep saying the word – in all of my classes. Word has now spread.
This whole thing is important because I experience it every day. I know of a few Hungarian words that sound exactly the same as some dirty English words. These are common words that I’m talking about, not anything rare.
It’s very funny. Very, very funny. Walking down the street, you can hear an old lady saying very bad words to a little girl. In her language, it’s polite and loving. In my language, they’re dirty enough that I won’t write them here.
Therefore, I had no pity for the kids when they didn’t like the way I said “false”. Not only will I keep saying it, but now I have another dirty Hungarian word in my vocabulary. I probably won’t ever use it, but it’s nice to know that it’s an option.
Hungarian word of the day:
Pronounced Hom-eesh. This word means “false”. It’s less exciting because it doesn’t sound like any bad word I’ve ever heard. How does that make school more fun?