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Writing, Illustrating & Publishing => Research => Topic started by: ecb on June 10, 2011, 01:35 PM

Title: Any Blueboarders familiar with Hungarian language and culture?
Post by: ecb on June 10, 2011, 01:35 PM
I seem to recall we had someone here--Mary, maybe?--who had lived in Hungary? I am starting a new book and have questions about a Hungarian word/name. From what I've been able to find out from the questionable sources online, I'm thinking it might be exactly what I'm looking for, but I want a real-world reality check before I get myself committed!

The name is Ravasz, which I think is a surname? I was interested in it initially because I was looking for an Eastern European word for "fox," and Wiktionary (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/ravasz#Hungarian) gave me this as an obsolete Hungarian word for fox (even better!), with a current meaning of "cunning" or "wily" (better and better). But when I Googled the word alone, I was surprised to discover that all the hits were proper names.

I guess I'm wondering if anyone is familiar with this name/word, and if there are any connotations to it I should be aware of, before bestowing it on my foxy character. (And if you could give me a hint about its pronunciation, I'd really appreciate that, too!)

The book in question is a fantasy, and it is pulling me in the direction of Eastern European folklore (I am just beginning my research here).

Anyone?

Thanks!!
Title: Re: Any Blueboarders familiar with Hungarian language and culture?
Post by: kittypye on June 13, 2011, 05:40 AM
I asked a Hungarian friend and here is what she said:

"Your friend can go ahead with the word "ravasz" which is commonly used for "cunning." It is pronounced "ravas" (not "ravash"), with closed vowels. FYI the Hungarian word for fox is "róka" and, culturally speaking, it is indeed associated with cunning."

Hope this helps! I have heard her pronounce the "closed vowels" she mentioned, and they sound almost like a long "oh" but without the diphthong.
Title: Re: Any Blueboarders familiar with Hungarian language and culture?
Post by: Emily G on June 13, 2011, 06:21 AM
I asked a Serbo-Hungarian friend and this is her response (some overlap with kittypye's friend's response). The bit about "Eastern name order", ecb, will probably explain why you thought you were getting a lot of hits for it being a first name?

"Okay, Ravasz does indeed mean cunning and wily and connotes to foxes (I didn't know it was an obsolete word for fox though. I THINK it might be this thing where animals important to the beliefs of pre-Christian Hungarian tribes (e. g. stags and wolves) used to have real names, which were kept secret and also "nicknames", which alluded to a property the animal had. (So stags were called "horned" and wolves were called "tailed" and in time the real names became forgotten, so the modern words for stag and wolf do indeed mean horned and tailed. Just speculating here, but maybe ravasz was a nickname for foxes?).

And it's definitely a (relatively rare) last name, not a proper name. You should also note than Hungarian names use the "Eastern name order" - family name first, then given name.

Ravasz is approximately pronounced raw - vass, where the vass rhymes with was but ends with s rather than phonetic z.

The word for fox is róka, btw, which is pronounced row-kah."
Title: Re: Any Blueboarders familiar with Hungarian language and culture?
Post by: ecb on June 13, 2011, 01:45 PM
Wow, thank you both!!  This is wonderful information! Please thank your friends for me, both of you. I really appreciate it.