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A Bit of Honey, Too?

A few years ago, a friend and I took a night train from Hungary to Romania. Both of us were Peace Corps volunteers in Hungary, and were trying to supplement our basic knowledge of Hungarian with a crash course in Romanian, taught to us by a friendly couple on the train. One of the first words they taught us was the Romanian for "thank you": multimesc.

At five in the morning, we arrived in the town of Brasov in Transylvania, a town with a large Hungarian population. While my friend Peggy watched our bags, I ran around the train station getting information on hotels, tourist sites, etc. Not realizing that my Hungarian could be spoken here, I tried to use my new Romanian. But when faced with actual Romanians, all of the new vocabulary left my head. I tried to remember the word for "thank you" -- was it micimacko? The word sounded familiar. So every person I met I thanked--the lady in the information booth, the taxi stand attendant, a man who held the door for me. I put down their strange looks to my accent.

Finally, someone gave me such an outright stare that I doubted myself. I went back to Peggy.

"What was the word for `thank you'?"

She looked it up. Multimesc.

I told her that I'd been saying micimacko, a word that seemed familiar to her too. It wasn't until we returned to Hungary that I found out what I had actually been repeating to everyone -- the Hungarian word for "Winnie the Pooh."


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