Ádám Nádasdy – born February 15, 1947
It is worth comparing the recent history of Hungarian and its speakers with that of the Irish and their language. Around the middle of the 19th century the Irish (so to speak) agreed among themselves to abandon the traditional Gaelic Irish language and to go over to English. Today almost all Irish people living in the world are native speakers of English, and can no longer read or understand Irish. This may be a sad fact for the loss of a rich and ancient language, but – let’s be frank – a great bonus for the nation, since they possess an international language, and hundreds of millions can easily read anything written by Irish writers (not speaking of the advantages in commercial, military, etc. life).
Hungarian was in a very similar situation vis-á-vis German as Irish was with English; however, the opposite happened. In the mid-nineteenth century masses of people living in the Kingdom of Hungary, whatever their mother tongue, agreed to switch over to Hungarian, and indeed, in a few generations much of the country (certainly what was to become present-day Hungary) became monolingual Hungarian-speaking. …The knowledge of foreign languages is pathetically low, compared to Holland, Portugal, Greece, or Finland. The Irish have eaten their cake; the Hungarians have it.
[From “Hungarian – A Strange Cake on the Menu”]
Read the essay “The Lord’s Fiddle” here
Some poems in Hungarian are here
Listen to Nádasdy read two of his poems (Hungarian language) here
Other YouTube videos:
Nádasdy’s 2013 Presentation on the history of language and national identity (Hungarian language)