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View Full Version : What is the foreign lady in "Chicago" saying...?


Freudian Slit
05-13-2001, 05:15 PM
Hey i've been wondering this for while.

Have any of you seen the musical Chicago? In one scene, during the Cell-Block Tango song, a woman (Hunyak), says something long in another language...I think Hungarian but I really don't know.

I've been pondering-

What language is it-

And what does it mean translated into English?

Thanks in advance and if it helps here is the little speech:

Mit keresk, en itt? Azt mondjok, hogy a hires lakem lefogta a ferjemet en meg lecscaptam a fejet. De nem igaz en artalan vagyok. Nem tudom mert mondja Uncle Sam hogy en tettem. Probaltam a rendorsegem megmagyarazni de nem ertettek meg...

Johanna
05-13-2001, 10:20 PM
It's Hungarian (as the libretto of Chicago makes clear at some point). When she's hanged the announcer goes "And now, doing her Hungarian Rope Trick...."

I took my Hungarian dictionary to work, so I won't get a chance to translate it until I go back there tomorrow (unless Turkey Breast pulykamell gets to this thread first).

Johanna
05-15-2001, 01:36 AM
Mit keresek, én itt? Azt mondják, hogy a híres lakom lefogta a férjemét én meg lecsaptam a fejét. De nem igaz én ártatlan vagyok. Nem tudom mert mondja Uncle Sam hogy én tettem. Probaltam a rendörségem megmagyarazni de nem ertettek meg...

What do I seek here? It is said that the news where I live is I grabbed my husband and I smashed his head. But it is not true I am innocent. I don't know because Uncle Sam says how I did. I tried to explain to the police but they did not understand and...

Johanna
05-15-2001, 12:18 PM
This number was performed by the "Merry Murderesses of Cook County Jail," telling the stories of how they offed their husbands (to the refrain of "He had it coming..."). Here Hunyak is protesting her innocence, but apparently she was charged and convicted because she couldn't speak English.

I saw this show several years before I studied Hungarian, so now thanks to you I finally find out what she was saying. The American actress delivered Hunyak's speech with smooth, rapid Hungarian enunciation. Must have taken a lot of practice.

The subject line "A Hunyaki beszéd" is an allusion that only aficionados of Hungarian philology would catch. The oldest known text in the Hungarian language is the "Funeral Oration", A Halotti Beszéd (http://britannica.com/eb/article?eu=109249&tocid=61554), circa 1200 AD.

Freudian Slit
05-15-2001, 02:35 PM
That makes sense...:) Thanks, Jomo! No longer will I have to writhe in ignorance every tiime I listen to the soundtrack. (It's true: i really was curious...)

Yeah I agree- it did sound very realistic to me- though I don't know anything about Hungarian. Especially if it was an American actress...

Legolamb
03-18-2003, 07:26 PM
Thanks for that translation Jomo, I was looking for that earlier today but couldn't find anywhere else in Google-land that had it.

Just so you know, Ekaterina Shelkanova, who played the Hunyak, isn't American. I'm not 100% sure about where she's actually from, but she's definitely East European, possibly Russian.

Glory
03-18-2003, 08:49 PM
Hmmm, judging by the last post before yours (5-15-2001) they are talking about the Broadway musical soundtrack, not the recent movie.

Larry Mudd
03-18-2003, 09:39 PM
Hunyak was played by Tina Paul in the Broadway show.

Bonus trivia-- her husband is Luis Perez, the choreographer.

John Kentzel-Griffin
03-18-2003, 11:18 PM
Wow! When this thread started, there was no Cafe Society. Since it's about entertainment:

Off to Cafe Society.

DrMatrix - General Questions Moderator

Legolamb
03-19-2003, 08:49 AM
Originally posted by Glory
Hmmm, judging by the last post before yours (5-15-2001) they are talking about the Broadway musical soundtrack, not the recent movie.

Ah, it appears once again assume makes an ass out of.. well, just me actually. Someone directed me to this thread and I completely missed the dates on it.

dogchow
03-19-2003, 11:07 AM
Hey, for anyone who's seen both the Broadway show and the movie...are the lyrics the same in both versions? And if not, can someone translate the version used in the movie? (I'll find the lyrics used if that's a problem.)
Welome to the boards Legolamb.It's okay, I didn't catch the dates either. Don't be a jerk and you'll be fine.

Cliffy
03-19-2003, 01:24 PM
I thought it sounded russian in the movie, but there were only a few words I thought I recognized. I don't know what hungarian sounds like, so maybe I just misheard, but if the actress is named Ekaterina Shelkanova, I think russian isn't a bad guess.

--Cliffy

Colibri
03-19-2003, 04:55 PM
Originally posted by dogchow
Hey, for anyone who's seen both the Broadway show and the movie...are the lyrics the same in both versions? And if not, can someone translate the version used in the movie? (I'll find the lyrics used if that's a problem.)

From the movie soundtrack (http://stlyrics.com/lyrics/chicago/cellblocktango.htm):

HUNYAK (Spoken):
Mit keresek, én itt? Azt mondják, hogy a híres lakem lefogta a férjemet én meg lecsaptam a fejét. De nem igaz, én ártatlan vagyok. Nem tudom miért mondja Uncle Sam, hogy én tettem. Probáltam a rendőrségen megmagyarázni de nem értették meg...

In English:
What I am doing here? They say, that the famous lakem kept down my husband and I stoke off his head. But this is not true, I am guiltless. I dont know why Uncle Sam says that I did it. I tried to explain at the police station but they didn't understand me...


So it's the same dialog in the musical and the movie.

Note that the IMDB Database lists the actress' name as "Ekaterina Chtchelkanova, sometimes credited as
Ekaterina Schelkanova." Also, her role is listed as "Catalina Helinski/The Hunyack." So "Hunyak" is not her character's name, but I assume slang for a Hungarian (like 'hunky" or 'bohunk.')

Angel of the Lord
03-19-2003, 07:20 PM
It's *not* the same in the movie. I'm by no means fluent in Hungarian, but I listened for the -gy sound. It was not present in the movie--or, at least, it was not present on the movie soundtrack. I believe the language spoken was some random Russian.

psychonaut
04-04-2003, 06:16 AM
Originally posted by Angel of the Lord
It's *not* the same in the movie. I'm by no means fluent in Hungarian, but I listened for the -gy sound. It was not present in the movie--or, at least, it was not present on the movie soundtrack. I believe the language spoken was some random Russian. I just saw the movie a few hours ago, in a theatre here in Budapest. The lines are most definitely Hungarian, spoken with a rather thick Slavic (Russian?) accent. This prompted a few chuckles from the audience, probably because it was rather obvious that the woman was not Hungarian, as is implied in the movie. I suppose you could therefore be forgiven for thinking that the language was Russian, but I should note that you can't determine what language such a short text is in simply by listening for a certain sound. Hungarian is not the only language in the world that contains the voiced palatal plosive ("gy" sound), but even if it were, it's not so common in Hungarian that one would be unable to speak for 30 seconds without using it.

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