Hungarian and other proverbs born during the Turk wars

An Ottoman Deli rider

The Hungarians and the Croatians have created several proverbs and sayings during the wars against the Turks. Let me share some of them with you – and please, tell me some if you know, too.

In the picture you can see a drawing from the Arcanum’s database, a soldier in 16th-century Hungarian attire:

1. “I’ve captured a Turk but he won’t release me.” Meaning: I got into a rather disappointing situation which turned out to be the opposite of my original intention. (Törököt fogtam, de nem ereszt.)

2. “The black soup is about to be served.” The “black soup” or “ink soup” was the name for the coffee for the Hungarians. It means that the worst, sudden thing coming in the end. The story behind the proverb is that the Turks invited a Hungarian lord into their tent but after the dinner, the host gave the password “the black soup is coming” and his Janissaries arrested the Hungarian guest, hearing it. Allegedly, this lord was Bálint Török. Yet, experts say the original meaning is coming from the Transylvanian habit where they served a kind of black soup at the end of the dinner. (Most jön a fekete leves.)

3. “There is no money nor broadcloth.” Meaning: there is no payment at all. The warriors of the Borderland were supposed to get their pay half in cash and half in s cheap quality broadcloth. Most of the time they didn’t receive either; sometimes for years. (Se pénz, see posztó.)

4. The last one is a Croatian saying: “Better if a Turk drives you with a sword than a German with a pen.”

Here are a few other ones from the comments on my FB page:

“Kud svi Turci tu i ćelavi Mujo” meaning, whatever Turks do, so does the bald Mujo…in English, monkey sees, monkey do. (by Sinisa Durucic)

“How the Turk is, so is his pistol” (in Romanian “Cum e turcul, asai si pistolul”) meaning if something is bad or problematic so will be those coming from him or associated with him. (by Radu Fradu)

My brainy addition: I’ve just learned a new one, a rather bad one. In Hungary, we have a curse that goes like “Ló*** a seggedbe” (“Horse-*** into your ass.”) I have just read that we are using this phrase rather wrongly because it derives from the Turk word “lofat” that was the sharpened stake, used for executions. Thus, the curse got just worse. We had better not use bad words, though…

“Gulun seven,dikenine katlanir”!:) Those who love roses, must accept the thorns (of roses) (by Kalman Herczeg)

“Are you Turkish why don’t you understand? (probably Turks had difficulties in understanding, I have lived in Romania for 13 years and still do not understand many things ?) (by Mustafa Akdogan)

“Több is veszett Mohácsnál” a battle in which Hungary lost its king and its sovereignty…this is used when something bad happens, a response is “more was lost at Mohács” (by Ludwig Gros)

“Rossz szomszédság – török átok” as in “Bad neighborhood – a Turkish curse” It means that if you have bad neighbors then you were cursed by the Turks. It refers to being unable to work for a common goal or live peacefully next to each other. What is more, to wish that your neighbor had it worse than yourself. (by Cselovszki Roland)

Ne dolazi ti turska sila – “the Turkish force is not coming”, what you say to a person that eats too fast (like people fleeing from the Turks would eat) (by Vedran Vlaic)

“Eğer kafirde yiğit varsa Macardır
Hem kendi yiğit hem atı eşkin acardır.”

Macar(Hungarian) and Acar(Bolt) makes a rhyme

Meaning if there’s a brave among infidels He’s a Hungarian
He is brave and his horse is the bolt. (by Eren Atahar)

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