Idő, Time, Temps…

My grandfather’s pocket watch purchased around 1910 (used) in a South Bend bar with his father’s Hungarian fob chain.

Time. Such an important thing. Idő. It is a Hungarian word for time. I haven’t had the time, pun intended, to figure out what the other ones are. Wait, of course there is ‘óra’ meaning hour as in time. The word drove me crazy and continues to drive me crazy as I learn that it has more and more meanings that keep showing up out of the woodwork.

I first learned of the word, ‘idő,’ when I was working on my Pimsleur Hungarian. I learned the expressions, « Szép idő van ma » and « Csuny idő van ma. » They mean « the weather is nice today » and « the weather is ugly today. » The word ‘csunya’ was especially funny to me since my grandmother used this word meaning ugly as a word of endearment for us or how we were acting, she would call us ‘csunya.’ I had no idea whatsoever that it meant ‘ugly.’ But, I digress.

« Idő » means weather, yes, but then when I was doing some Duolingo work in Hungarian, the following phrase kept coming up as being useful, « Mennyi az idő? » It supposedly means, « What time is it? ». It all made me think of the word « temps » in French which can refer to weather, as in « Quel temps fait-il ? » What is the weather? It can also mean time in a general sense as in « Je n’ai pas le temps. » I don’t have the time.

Well, add into all this that I was continuing to do Duolingo, which I find fascinating, by the way. They have a way of getting you to learn new things in a most interesting way but continuing to insert it until you just learn it in more and more exercises. I then saw it in a sentence they wanted you to translate. They would give you a literal bank of words for the translation and by trial, error, and by just recognizing some of the words, you could automatically throw some of the choices out from what you already knew. The word « idő » kept coming up but this time it was to say old or elderly. That was a total surprise, although in retrospect, it makes a lot of sense. The old have seen a lot of time.

So time flies by…even in the time of Coronavirus.

About Richard Koerner

Sixty something, father, papi, educator, organizer, Francophile, traveler, amateur photographer, gardener, cyclist, kayaker, calligrapher, cinephile, reader, and overall renaissance type human being.
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