A Layman’s Guide to Hungarian Words

Jun 17, 2020 | 2020 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Julia Buckley

Check out a short story of Julia’s featured in a past podcast at the end of this post.

Last time I visited this blog, I wrote about my grandfather: The Lasting Legacy of My Grandfather. There are tributes to my grandmother throughout the book, and of course, I wrote about them both in the author’s note.

It was a nice trip down memory lane, and a good lead-in to discussing my first Hungarian Tea House Mystery, Death in a Budapest Butterfly. Now the sequel to that mystery novel is about to hit the shelves, and Death of a Wandering Wolf picks up just a couple months after Butterfly ended.

When I wrote the book, I incorporated many Hungarian terms and locations, and I needed to consult my Hungarian father for help with pronunciations and cultural realities. Here are some of the terms you might find helpful as a little glossary if you happen to read my Tea House Mystery.

Pàlinka (Pronounced POLLeenka) All Hungarians know about Pàlinka, a drink the New York Times says “tastes like a slap in the face.” They also referred to it as “Hungarian moonshine,” but it’s popular with Hungarians, and this fruit brandy comes in several flavors. Trip Savvy: Hungarian Palinka

Békéscsaba (Pronounced BAY KESH CHO BA) This town in Hungary provides an important clue in Wandering Wolf, and it provides some very significant details about Hana’s family history.

Keszthely (Pronounced KESS-HAY) The homeland of an artist whose work becomes central to the mystery.

Sárkány (Pronounced SHAR connyeh ) Wikipedia says “A sárkány (dragon) is a legendary monster found in Hungarian mythology. It usually appears as a scaly, winged, reptilian beast, but in some cases it could be a mixture of other beings.” For Hana, though, the sárkány is a bad omen. Her grandmother says that thunder is sometimes not weather, but the dragons fighting above the clouds—a sign of bad things to come.

Szépasszony (Pronounced SAY-poss-so-nye) was important in the first book, but she returns in this one: Once a goddess of love who devolved into a vengeful spirit, Szépasszony is a paradox who can be good or bad. Her name means “beautiful woman,” and she can be a goddess of blessing, but also a demon who lures children or shepherds. She can be found in raindrops or puddles or storms. Hana sees her as a symbol of power and self-actualization.

I hope you’ll consider reading the Hungarian Tea House series! There are many fun cultural details woven into the mysteries that Hana and Detective Wolf manage to solve.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify. A new episode went up last week!

A short story by Julia was featured in a past podcast episode. You can find it here, or check out the player below:

You can use this link to preorder the book on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

Julia Buckley is a Chicago-area writer. She has written three mystery series with Berkley Prime Crime, including the best-selling Writer’s Apprentice Series, which Mystery Scene calls “engaging, enjoyable, and surprising,” while Kirkus dubs it “pleasantly old-fashioned.” The Library Journal called Buckley “a writer to watch.”
Buckley is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and the Chicago Writers Association. She blogs about writing and mysteries at Mysterious Musings, where she has interviewed almost 200 other mystery writers about their work.
She teaches high school English and enjoys reading, playing Words With Friends, and spending time with her husband and two sons, along with their menagerie of animals.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.

1 Comment

  1. thanks for letting us know of this series.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.