These days, most restaurants in Hungary of the sort normally frequented by tourists either have foreign-language menus or at least one staffer who can speak a language other than Hungarian. Still, there are some things that probably require a more careful approach to bridging the vast linguistic gulf that separates Hungarians from other… carbon-based life forms. We were reminded of this the other day by an email from a friend of a friend, who wanted to know how to communicate in Hungarian the fact that his girlfriend is severely allergic to nuts.
Since we’re not sure what kind of restaurants our correspondent is planning on eating in, we decided to offer him a menu of three translation options: one formal, detailed and probably too long for even most long-time expats to get out; the second more to the point; and the third something that any weekend visitor can easily scrawl on a piece of paper, even if they are already lapsing into anaphylactic shock.
1. “I am allergic to nuts, and even if there are only small traces of nuts in something I eat, it can make me very sick. Will you please let the chef know and tell me if there is anything I should not order on the menu?”
Allergiás vagyok a mogyoróra, és ha csak egy kis mennyiségű mogyoró van abban, amit eszek, nagyon rosszul leszek tőle. Kérem, hogy mondja el ezt a szakácsnak, és kérdezze meg, milyen ételek szerepelnek az étlapon, amelyekből nem szabad rendelnem.
2. “If I eat anything with nuts in it I will die.”
Ha bármi mogyorósat eszek, meghalok.
3. “NUTS = DEATH”
MOGYORÓ = HALÁL
Note that mogyoró is the word for “nut/nuts” and you can replace it with any food you want to avoid eating. (Check here for a list of potential poisons.) Of course, as for whether the waiter will actually care that you will start swallowing your tongue and go into a coma if he forgets or ignores your request, that’s a whole different story…