Funniest Hungarian Joke Ever

Funniest Hungarian Joke Ever

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I'm back from my fabulous adventures in Austria, Romania and Canada and I had a fabulous time, as you might imagine. We were in Romania for a wedding of some close personal friends who live here in Seattle; much of the groom's family escaped from Romania during the Communist period and settled in Austria, so we spent some time in Vienna and then headed to Bucharest, and then crossed the Carpathian mountains by bus into Transylvania for the wedding. Some of the highlights included:

* Vienna! An astonishingly beautiful city with classical sculpture and architecture everywhere you look. We were playing "identify that goddess" the whole time we were there. Plus, young men dressed like Mozart will try to sell you concert tickets and have an answer for every objection. "I saw that show last night" is met with "The second time will be better!" (The concert really was delightful.)

* Romania! Where there is a stark contrast between the quaint tiled-roof medieval buildings in beautiful mountain valleys, and the horrid, crumbling, brutal Communist-era concrete slab apartment blocks. Said medieval buildings included Bran Castle, a small but lovely medieval castle bizarrely marketed as "Dracula's Castle" for reasons which were obscure to me. Apparently Vlad the Impaler slept there one night as a child, or some such thing. It was difficult to tell from the materials at the castle what exactly the alleged connection was. But still, nice castle. And we visited the Black Church of Brașov, which was also quite historic.

* The ride from the hotel to the wedding! Let me begin by saying that I have a policy of not wearing socks after April, so I only brought my sandals to Europe. "No one is going to be photographing my feet", I said. So there we were at the hotel, and a horse-drawn carriage shows up to bring the bride and groom to the church. Just as they were about to embark, the happy couple said "Eric and Leah! There is room in the carriage beside the driver! Come with us!" Which was an unexpected treat, being taken by horse-drawn carriage over cobblestone streets up to the 14th century Fortified Church of Sfântu Gheorghe. Quite magical. And of course the wedding photographers were running alongside the carriage snapping pictures as we went. Since we were sitting up with the driver, my feet were at the same level as the bride's head. Thanks to the magic of digital photography, by the time the wedding was over the photographers had already blown up some of the photos from earlier in the day to poster size and printed them onto cardboard at the reception hall. And there it was, a life-size poster of my sandalled feet floating beside the bride's head to greet us. (Attention Romanian photographers: next time, use the "crop" feature before you press Print.)

* The kidnapping! Apparently it is a tradition in Transylvanian weddings for the bride to be mysteriously kidnapped and then ransomed back to the groom. The "ransom" included a long list of things such as "the father of the groom must sing a traditional Hungarian (*) song" and "a friend of the groom's must tell a joke in Hungarian". I volunteered for the latter task; fortunately one of the groom's cousins phonetically taught me a clean joke -- in fact, her nine-year-old daughter's favourite joke -- which I must say is hilarious. It goes:

Miért nincs a póknak telefonja? 





Mert bemegy a sarokba és telefonja!

Get it? Eh? és tele-fonja!


The joke literally translates as "Why does the spider not have a telephone? Because he is in the corner, weaving." Which isn't funny in English, but in Hungarian it is a hilarious pun because "telephone" and "to weave together" are homophones. A non-literal translation would be "Why does a spider not have the internet? Because he already has the Web in a corner."

HA HA HA HA HA! It is funny in English too!

Even though my timing was flawless, my pronunciation might have been off because the joke was met with utter silence.

Regardless, the bride was restored only to discover that her shoes had mysteriously gone missing. The little daughters of the kidnappers had gotten into the action! They demanded chocolate and gum as shoe ransom. Fortunately they were appeased and no shoes were harmed.

* The alpine village! The day after the wedding we journeyed to a village in the Transylvanian Alps. Which were extraordinarily scenic, but getting there was quite terrifying, what with the unpaved, washed-out road, the sheer cliff on one side, and the -- I kid you not -- donkey-drawn gypsy caravans coming down the mountain.

All in all it was quite the trip; we had a fabulous time thanks to the generosity and enthusiasm of all of the relatives who provided us food, lodging, travel and entertainment.

Seems like it's been a while since we discussed programming language design on this here blog, so next time we'll get back into it with some musings about type theory.


(*) Transylvania was once a part of Hungary, and a large portion of the population is still ethnically Hungarian even though it is today nowhere near the border with Hungary.

  • Sorry that i write you here, but it seems that people often ask you about new language features in comments to this blog :)

    I can't find any information in google on the lack of that feature, which is strange because it is IMHO quite logical and needed thing... or maybe i'm just doing something wrong... anyway, the missing feature i want to say about is the "internal new()" generic constraint.

    In current C#, one may write e.g. "public TResult SomeFunc<TResult>() where TResult : new() { return new TResult(); }". The documentation tells us that in order to fit in such a constraint, TResult should have a public parameterless constructor, which quite makes sense: e.g. if TResult has a private parameterless constructor, then we probably don't want it to be called somewhere else; even if the constructor is accessible to SomeFunc, we probably don't want it to be called somewhere else ("public T SomeFunc<T>() where T : new() { return SomeOtherFunc<T>(); } public T SomeOtherFunc<T>() where T : new() { return new T(); }") until it is public.

    However, there are times when i want to write such generic functions in my library without exposing the parameterless constructor to everybody (basically, in such a case it is acting as a replacement to missing feature of constraints like "where T : new(int, string)").

    I understand that implementing constraints on constructors with parameters ("where T : new(int, string)") might be impossible due to the reasons you mention every time you're talking about why you won't add a certain new feature to the language :) however, it seems to be not a big deal to implement constraint such as "where T : internal new()". Basically, the only differences of such a constraint from the existing "where T : new()" would be that: a) it will allow for types in the same assembly with internal parameterless constructor; b) it won't allow to pass such types to another methods with old-style "where T : new()" constraint and to methods from another assemblies. It seems to be fairly easy thing to implement, even minding all you said about testing etc.

    Sorry about this huge comment with my terrible knowledge of english...

  • Holding the bride for ransom is also a Chinese tradition. However, we were running behind schedule (another Chinese tradition), so the bridesmaids skipped the ransom ceremony. Lucky me!

  • Romania acquired large portions (including Transylvania) of Hungary after WW1 cause Romania sided with the allies toward the end of the war after it was pretty certain that the German and Austrian Hungarian empire were going to lose.  To this day I hear many Hungarians HATE Romanians and regard them as gypsies.

  • Good that you had fun in Vienna - it's a nice city, especially for people liking architecture or music (Raymond would have his fun as well there I think). I think I'm not 100% objective here though, so I'll mention that Prague is nice too ;)

    tz if I'd known you were here..

  • Great coverage of a fascinating culture and event. My jokes don't always work either.  ;O)

  • I did not know that you're not only a programming language expert, but a human-language expert too. Also, I did not expect that I'll read a joke in your post that I heard during the elementary school last time. :)

    Gotta love your blog!

    Gergő (from Hungary)

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