What the Hungarian?!: Phil Williams

What the Hungarian?! – Phil Williams

Üdv! Did you ever find yourself in a situation where you had no idea what was being said? Well, the brave people taking part in the What the Hungarian?! feature can experience exactly that. 5 quotes, 5 guesses, and 5 answers. How well would you do?

If you’d like to try this feature out, please contact us for further details!

Phil Williams, the author of several books in the Ordshaw series, is here to try his luck with What the Hungarian?! as part of our 5th Anniversary Bonanza. Let’s see how he fared with my beautiful, but also pain in the arse language!

The Rules
  • You get the first passages in Hungarian (translated by me, but they should do) from 5 books you’ve read, and a couple of hints.
  • You have to guess which book they are from. And for extra fun, share your thought process with us!
  • You can also ask 3 question regarding any of the passages (1 question/passage) which I’ll answer with “yes”, “no” or “I don’t know” – as I didn’t read each of the books.
  • You can’t use a dictionary or a translator.
  • And you just have to have fun!

Simple, isn’t it?

Meet the Author
Phil Williams

Phil Williams is an author of contemporary fantasy and dystopian fiction, including the Ordshaw urban fantasy thrillers and the post-apocalyptic Estalia series. He also writes bestselling reference books to help foreign learners master English. Phil lives with his wife by the coast in Sussex, UK, and spends a great deal of time walking his impossibly fluffy dog, Herbert.

Connect with Phil Williams



Mily alantas a neved a nyelvemen. Mar mint a sav, nehéz kimondani öklendezés nélkül. És mégis, nem vagyok képes másról beszélni. Ez lett az én átkom, a gyalázkodó mantrám.


Ez a név, mint te, mint a karácsony és minden perverzitása, a hazugság. Bár te mindig is egy hazugságokból épített házban éltél, és ez a ház most kastéllyá, erőddé nőtt. Annyi a hazugság, hogy elfelejtetted az igazságot, elfelejtetted ki vagy…elfelejtetted az igazi neved.

Hints: standalone, trad published, male author, festivities

Phil Williams: Oh man you almost threw me right away because I reckoned that first word had to be Christmas or Christmas-adjacent, because it was close to the Polish Mikolaj, and – plot twist – I know a smattering of Polish that I wasn’t sure would help me. But with that established, my mind started doing backflips because I was like “when have I ever read a book that started with Christmas?” The rest of the words definitely didn’t help, but that repeated Mikulas nailed it, this has to be Brom’s Krampus; somehow I can hear that voice coming through in the Hungarian, it’s just there! (And answering the question, “when did I ever read such a book”, only about three months ago, idiot.)

Though I’ll have a stab at some those other words to show my greater ignorance; I suspect he mentions winter with ‘lett’ and I feel like that hazugsag is a word I need in my life. On a limb I’m really hoping ‘elfelejtetted’ is something elf-related…

Guess: Krampus by Brom

Timy: Huh, I didn’t know the Polish had a similar word for Santa Claus, as ours. I learned something new today, too. Well… should I shatter your illusions? Let’s make something educational out of this, lol. Lett is one way of saying has become, hazugság is lie – not sure if you really need this word in your life, though. And sadly, no, elfelejtetted has nothing to do with elves…it means you forgot (or you have forgotten in this context). Thank fuck we don’t have all kinds of past tenses…

The correct answer: Krampus by Brom

The Original Quote

Santa Claus…

How vile your name upon my tongue. Like acid, hard to utter without spitting. Yet I find myself capable of speaking little else. It has become my malediction, my profane mantra.

Santa Claus…Santa Claus…Santa Claus.

That name, like you, like your Christmas and all its perversions, is a lie. But then you have always lived in a house of lies, and now that house has become a castle, a fortress. So many lies that you have forgotten the truth, forgotten who you are… forgotten your true name.



A türelmetlen lárma egyre hangosabbá vált a szobán kívül. Lábdobogás, kiabálás hallatszott a stereo dübörgésén túl, mindenki a lányokat várta, hogy lejöjjenek. _ az enyhén nedves kanapén ült, kezei összeszorítva, a térde idegesen remegve. Mélyeket lélegzett, hogy azt a kevés ebédet amit evett lent tartsa.

„Szerintem eleget vártak,” nyugtázta _ az ajtó mellől. Nagydarab férfi volt barna öltönyben, élesen nyírt oldalszakállal ami jól ellensúlyozta gyér haját a fején. Húsos kezei sétapálcán pihentek, amire nem volt szüksége igazán, arany gyűrűi koppantak a bronz végen. „Kész vagytok, lányok?”

Hints: standalone in a series, self-published, male author, witchery

Phil Williams: Well this isn’t as simple at all. I thought I might game it by seeing it was a male author writing on witchery, as when do I ever read guys’ books about witches, must be Terry Pratchett. But the first words I recognise in there are “stereo” and “vegan”, so that’s vanishingly unlikely. Oh and it’s self-published! Right. Going with my Polish again that kanapen might be a sandwich and we’ve got a “lenta tartsa” that might also be food-based. But it says “bronz vegen” so maybe that doesn’t even mean vegan, I’m getting images of a vegan in armour…

These Hungarian words definitely aren’t helping me, this might be food-related or not at all but I don’t recall a witchy book opening with discussions of sandwiches anyway. I’m going to have to go back to gaming and think what contemporary indie books of witches have I read by men… and suddenly I have a couple of choices that are equally possible because damned if I remember how they start. Let’s go with Craig Schaefer because I know you’re a fan (is this cheating?)…

Guess: Sworn to the Night by Craig Schaefer

Timy: Oh boy, you made me laugh so much! Where the hell did you get “vegan” from? If you meant, végen… nope, nothing to do with food. And kanapé is couch so, again, nothing food-related. Lent tart means to keep down. Bronz means copper. And for the record, picking one of Craig Schaefer’s books is never cheating, but she also doesn’t qualify as she recently came out as a trans woman, so… nope. But I’m sure this quote will be familiar to you…

The correct answer: Dyer Street Punk Witches by Phil Williams

The Original Quote

An impatient clamour was rising outside the room. Stomping feet, voices shouting over a stereo beat, everyone waiting for the girls to come down. Kit sat on a slightly damp sofa, her hands squeezed together and a knee jumping with nerves. She breathed deep to keep down the little lunch she’d managed to eat.

„Think they’ve waited long enough,” Bill Fuller said, from his position by the door. He was a big man in a brown suit, with sharply trimmed muttonchops making up for his scant wisps of hair up top. His meaty hands rested on a cane he didn’t really need, gold rings tapping against the brass tip. „You girls ready?”



Ötvenegy fa cölöpöt ütöttek a földbe, egyenes vonalban, épphogy nyíllövésnyire az erőd falától. Napnyugta előtt perzselő tűzhelyeket helyeztek mindegyik elé, hogy mindkét oldal jól láthassa a közelgő atrocitást. 

Az elfogott nemeseket meztelenre vetkőztették és kirángatták őket ketrecükből, majd a cölöpökhöz kötözték őket miközben az embereik tehetetlenül figyeltek az erőd falai mögött rejtőzve.

Öt év háború után Fekete _ végre foglyul ejtette az _-i királyi család megmaradt tagjait, a maradék hadseregeikkel együtt _-ban, és alig várta, hogy végre megmutathassa milyen horrort szánt nekik.

Hints: standalone, traditionally published, male author, team effort

Phil Williams: I feel like the hints aren’t going to help me this time, it doesn’t narrow it down. And we’ve just got copious, copious umlauts in here (are they called umlauts in Hungarian? There are slanty ones too!). The important thing I’m gleaning, though, is that we have a capitalised word, Fekete, and I don’t know how capitals work in Hungarian but this is probably a place name. A translated one would make it a realworld story, but I sense not, because what could it possibly refer to… So that makes me think fantasy.

Also I see this word vegre which likely refers to some kind of verb as it’s near a name and that makes me question if vegen referred to vegans at all before, but what differences does that make. However, there is also this word csalad… Maybe I shouldn’t be doing this while hungry.

The one thing that actually looks familiar in here is “horrort”. Which hopefully refers to horror, though that doesn’t point to any particular book. I feel like the most interesting word is “megmutathassa” though, and if I could figure that out it would all fall into place. Because it seems like mega mutant. Oh but I just noticed a megmarut too so meg’s probably a totally mundane prefix.

I’m just dragging this out because I’m despairing honestly; it could be almost anything. My only hope is it’s a standalone, how many standalones have I read recently… There’s an elf, too, “elfogott”… My instincts say fantasy and something dark from that horrort word, and only one book that involves a team springs to mind…

Guess: The Maleficient Seven by Cameron Johnston

Timy: Uh oh, a lot to unpack here… well, the only time I ever used the word umlaut was when I had to learn German… our word for it is ékezet. I’m sure that helped a lot. And yep, we only capitalize names, but for example, we don’t capitalize month names. Just people and places. And only the first word of titles. You have no idea how confusing it is to figure out what to capitalize when I’m writing in Hungarian these days because I’m more used to writing in English… Anyway. Generally I don’t approve of our practices to translate everything we can including names, but I did it in this case for the fun of it, and as a tiny bit of help. Fekete means black, by the way 🙂

Végre and család has nothing to do with food. What’s with you and food, anyway? Végre is finally, and család is family. You are right about meg, it’s a very common prefix 🙂 Elfogott also has nothing to do with elves… el is also a common prefix… At least you got horrort right!

The correct answer: The Maleficent Seven by Cameron Johnston

The Original Quote

Fifty-one wooden posts were hammered into the ground, forming a line just out of bowshot from the fortress walls. Just before sunset, roaring braziers were placed before each one so both sides could witness the coming atrocity.

The captured nobles were stripped naked and dragged kicking and screaming from their pens, then bound to the post as their men watched, helpless and cowering behind the crumbling walls of the fortress.

After five years of war, Black Herran had finally trapped most of the remaining royal families of Essoran and the remnants of their armies in Rakatoll, and she was eager to display the horrors she had in store for them.



Egy halott lány hevert a nénikém pékségében. Cseppet sem méltóságteljesen felsikkantottam és hátrálni kezdtem egy lépést, majd még egyet míg a pékség ajtajába nem ütköztam. A legtöbbször nyitva hagyjuk másképp a nagy kályhák izzasztó forróságot árasztanak, de hajnali négy óra volt és semmi sem melegedett még fel.

Azonnal megállapítottam, hogy halott. Nem sok halottat láttam életemben – csak tizennégy éves vagyok és a sütés nem kifejezetten magas halandósággal járó mesterség – a vörös izé ami a feje alól szivárgott, biztosan nem málnatöltelék volt.

Hints: standalone, trad published, female author, cookies

Phil Williams: Sweet heavens, the words are all so long. The irony here that we have a clue of cookies but no food-related words like we had in the other entries, but I do spy “sok” which my Eastern European suggests could be juice. We’ve got a few more megs creeping in, confirming my theory that it’s not that special after all, though I do like “megállapítottam”. We do have a very long word beginning with “melt” though, so perhaps this is all cooking related after all…

I’ll be honest, my mind only went one place with “cookies” and it might not be the right place, but I’m not seeing anything pointing in another direction… I’m just ignoring my niggling feeling that it might not be technically standalone or traditionally published…

Guess: A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher

Timy: Your Eastern European fails you this time. Sok means a lot. If by the word beginning with “melt” you mean méltóságteljesen…well, you are totally wrong there. It’s actually two words – méltóság and teljesen in which méltóság means dignity. Méltóságteljes means dignified. Interestingly, undignified is fucking hard to translate into Hungarian…

The correct answer: A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher

The Original Quote

There was a dead girl in my aunt’s bakery.

I let out an undignified yelp and backed up a step, then another, until I ran into the bakery door. We keep the door open most of the time because the big ovens get swealteringly hot otherwise, but it was four in the morning and nothing was warmed up yet.

I could tell right away that she was dead. I haven’t seen a lot of dead bodies in my life – I’m only fourteen, and baking’s not exactly a high-mortality profession – but the red stuff oozing out from under her head definitely wasn’t raspberry filling.



_ felriadt a nyugtalanító álmokból, az ágynemű kényelmetlenül nedves az izzadtságtól. Margaret az ágy végében hevert, nagy sötét szemei aggodalmasan néztek rá, pofája rángott a mancsai között. Bár a részletek halványodtak, jól ismerte eme éjszakai színház témáját: a holttestek, az akna, a vér fémes íze a szájában. Halvány holdvilág szűrődött be az ablakon, épphogy megvilágítva a nagy hálókamrát. Nem lehetett több hajnali négynél. Nem jött volna álom a szemére újra. Sosem jött.

Hints: first book of a series, self-published, male author, ancient immortal

Phil Williams: My first thought here was that you’d made a critical mistake and left the character name “Margaret” in, but that didn’t really help me think of books with Margarets in them, and then I wondered what if it’s a bluff and you just have a Hungarian word spelt margaret, at the start of a sentence…

We have a character name missing at the start, anyway, and they’re apparently felriadting, along a bunch of other stuff. There’s a kozott in the middle there which could be goat-related, then there’s two jotts sneaking in at the end. By this point I’m pretty sure Nem is a personal pronoun of some sort, so I reckon Sosem is, too, giving us a statement that’s slightly redirected/confirmed at the end. Volna, that could be war-related, though who knows what anything else means… This analysis has done nothing to establish a kind of story.

I’m going to have to go with my gut on the hints, here, as I can’t think of many stories I’ve read involving ancient immortals. I feel like a shill, sneaking around the issue of actually unravelling the language. (Provided any of these guesses are accurate, otherwise, I’m just a rube.)

Guess: Paternus by Dyrk Ashton

Timy: I admit I left Margaret in deliberately. It could help, but most probably not as you’ll see below.

Oh boy, I’m dying of laughter. Között means between. Jött means came – I had to translate those last two sentences a bit creatively, so it’s not exactly a word-by-word translation. Nem means no, and sosem means never. So, not a personal pronoun. And volna is would, nothing war-related. Sorry.

The correct answer: Aching God by Mike Shel

The Original Quote

Auric woke from disturbing dreams, the bedsheets disagreeably damp with perspiration. Margaret lay at the end of the bed, big, dark eyes looking at him with mournful concert, snout twitching between her paws. Though the details were already fading, he knew the subject of this nighttime theater: the corpses, the pit, the coppery taste of blood in his mouth. Feeble moonlight seeped through the window, modestly illuminating the large bedchamber. He figured it was no later than four in the morning. Further sleep would evade him. It always did.

Results: 3/5

Not bad, all things considered. Well done, Phil!

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