Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook
"Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook" is a Monty Python sketch that first aired in 1970.
The sketch is set in Britain. A Hungarian enters a tobacconist's shop carrying a phrasebook and begins a dialogue with the tobacconist; he wants to buy some cigarettes but his phrasebook is poorly written and the translations of his desired phrases do not resemble in the slightest what he wants to say. Many of them are plainly bizarre and some of them are mildly sexual in nature (for example: "do you want to come back to my place — bouncy-bouncy?" After the customer has conveyed his desire in gestures, the tobacconist looks in the phrasebook to find a Hungarian translation for "six and six" (i.e. six shillings and sixpence); he reads out a phrase, which provokes the Hungarian to punch him in the face. A policeman, hearing the punch from a considerable distance, runs to the shop and arrests the Hungarian, who protests absurdly: "My nipples explode with delight!"
The Hungarian is apparently released, and instead the publisher of the phrasebook is taken to court, where he pleads "not guilty" of actions tending to provoke a breach of the peace. After the prosecutor reads some samples from the book (mistranslation for "Please direct me to the railway station" reads "Please fondle my buttocks"), the publisher changes his plea to "incompetent."
- John Cleese as the Hungarian (and a barrister)
- Terry Jones as the tobacconist (and the judge)
- Graham Chapman as the policeman
- Michael Palin as the publisher
- Eric Idle as the prosecutor
In other Python works
In the TV episode, the Hungarian character reappeared in the "Spam" sketch. This sketch also appeared in And Now for Something Completely Different, where, at the end of the sketch, another Hungarian tells someone on the street "Please fondle my buttocks" as a mistranslation of "Please direct me to the railway station". The man then gives him directions (in English).
In other media
The phrase "my hovercraft is full of eels" is often mentioned in relation to any translation system, in particular ones which translate poorly. In 1998, The Atlantic noted that two commercial translation programs could translate the phrase "into French and back and into Italian and back without a glitch." The phrase is also used as a cliche that takes the form of a character thinking they can speak a language, but whatever they try to say in that language ends up sounding nonsensical or outright rude to native speakers of the language in question.
The phrase "Drop your panties, Sir William; I cannot wait until lunchtime!" was spoofed in the Nintendo DS game Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations, as an outburst by a supporting character in the game's second case.
- My postillion has been struck by lightning, a phrase reportedly found in a real Hungarian-English phrasebook
- English As She Is Spoke
- Dr. Dobb's | Your Passport to Proper Internationalization | May 1, 2000
- Stephen Budiansky (December 1998). "Lost in Translation". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2010-03-05.
- http://www.omniglot.com/language/phrases/hovercraft.htm The phrase translated into numerous languages.