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« Proposal to be translated from English to Hugar...    

Hungarian-English Translation of
Potz Bassa Manelka

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Potz Bassa Manelka - partial crosspost from DE>EN forum  
by atemp (US), 2014-06-11, 02:05  like dislike  Spam?  
Apologies for this crosspost from the DE<>EN forum (topics #751026 and #758038), but as HU expertise seems limited there, it seemed appropriate for native HU speakers or scholars to have a crack at it.

At issue is a curse or oath uttered by a child character in Hoffmann's 1816  Nußknacker und Mausekönig, "Potz Bassa Manelka!". It seems from the context that it is just something a kid might say without knowing what it really means. From mention in old texts, it seems to have been an oath uttered by Prussian cavalrymen, maybe from early 18th to mid 19th centuries. Nobody really seems to know where it came from or what the parts of the expression mean.

From topic   #751026, I took the suggestion by Anonym that the latter part might be a Germanic corruption of the HU basszam a lelkét!, and, knowing almost no HU, plugged it into a machine translator.

Prefixing the unexpected output (which has nothing to with a Turkish Pasha or sb. named Manelka) with ddr's suggestion that Potz means sth. to do with God, the final result is very rude indeed--hardly what one would expect a 10-year old middle-class Berliner kid of 1816 to utter in polite company:

God fuck your soul!

Which however does sound like something a Hussar/Huszár might yell while spurring his steed into battle. Possibly Hoffmann knew full well what it meant, and took a Roald Dahl-like pleasure in putting it into the mouth of a child; who knows?

Could somebody please comment on whether this amateur etymological hypothesis is plausible?

Thank You!
Potz = Isten = Gott = God  #758041
by atemp (US), 2014-06-11, 02:22  like dislike  Spam?  
From POTZ, interj.

F. Müller 1, 327. substantivisch: den frommen theologen waren die soldatenflüche ein besonderer greuel; so oft ein soldatenmund sich öffnete, flogen die 'potz' und 'pieu' — rücksichtsvolle entstellungen des göttlichen namens — unaufhaltsam heraus. Freytag bilder (1867)

F. Müller 1, 327. noun: to pious theologians, the soldiers' curses were especially abominable; every time a soldier's mouth opened, 'potz' and 'pieu' - considerble distortions of the divine name [i.e. God] - inexorably flew out. Freytag bilder (1867).
anonymous, 2014-06-11, 11:45  like dislike  Spam?  82.131.180...
You are probably not far away with 'Hussars'. They were fighting under austrian leadership, just look at the german word 'Tolpatsch', wich is coming from the hungarian 'talpas', wich were special hussar-soldiers.

Maybe it was mixed german-hungarian (instead 'isten'--> 'Potz'), but originally it could have been:

'Hogy az isten bassza meg!' or 'Isten (Potz) bassza meg a...' wich are:

God should fuck!
God should fuck them...

(Excuse my Tarzan-english!)
Bassa etc.  #758367
by atemp (US), Last modified: 2014-06-12, 20:14  like dislike  Spam?  
This is most interesting! In the DE>EN forum on this subject somebody cited Heinrich von Kleist's account of his time in the Prussian army during the Napoleonic wars. Kleist writes a supposed anecdote wherein some characters utter the oaths Bassa Manelka and Bassa Teremtetem .

The only HU I know is "Szerelem", so does anybody here have a notion what the Teremtetem in the oath could mean as part of a semi-literate German-Hungarian mashup? The pathetic google translate spits out "Cadaver room"... but states that HU for corpse is either tetem / hulla / holttest, so

Bassa Manelka = F*** your soul!
Bassa Teremtetem = F*** your corpse!

Being mostly ignorant of HU grammar, do the above seem plausible?

Wrong conclusions  #758475
anonymous, 2014-06-13, 15:54  like dislike  Spam?  82.131.180...
The problem is, that 'teremtetem' does not exist. ('terem' + 'tetem' is here a coincidence).
It should be written this way:

"teremtette" or we are using this oath still until today: "Azt a teremtettét!", if we (hungarians) are fulminating somethning or someone. (In the meaning of 'God damn it'!) Which means:

'The created thing' --> coming from creator, who is God, so Gods creation(s) are mentioned here as an oath.

'Bassa Manelka' could be "Bassza meg a..." --> still has nothing to do with soul, see my former answer!
'Bassa Teremtetem' is "Bassza (meg), teremtette!" --> something like: Damn, f*** it!
by atemp (US), Last modified: 2014-06-13, 17:48  like dislike  Spam?  
Sorry for being a bit thick about this. I'm just a poor DE>EN translator trying to decipher 200-year bits of second-hand gibberish that are supposed to be Prussian oaths.

Vis-à-vis Potz Bassa Manelka (my primary mystery phrase), it's likely that Germanic grammatical and concatenation rules would have had some influence. I can only guess that "proper" HU grammar (but archaic by today's standards) would not necessarily have applied to the entire phrase.

If Potz basszam a lelkét indeed turned out to be null, that'd be too bad; the general syllabic parallels seem pretty close in a hypothetical stepwise degeneration from a DE-HU hybrid phrase to DE gibberish:

Potz basszam a lelkét (prototype)
Potz basßa malelkét (concatenate "...m a l..." into "mal...")
Potz bassa manelka ("lelk" is not common in DE, but "nelk" is seen, e.g. Nelke = Carnation)

So for the short two-word curses, the analyses so far under modern HU rules or slang are:
Bassa Manelka --> Bassza meg a --> f*** [them]
Bassa Teremtetem --> Bassza (meg), teremtette --> Damn, f*** it!, or God f*** it!

Well, things seem rather less muddy now. Köszönöm szépen!
Basszama lelkit -?  #758527
by atemp (US), 2014-06-14, 02:36  like dislike  Spam?  
From the journal Egyetemes philologiai közlöny 1899 v.23 p.705:

baszama, baszamaszto, baszama teremtetete, b. zistenit. — Az első három inkább tréfás, az utóbbi mindig komoly. (B., Sand.: In ung. Flüchen: Bassa Manelka! B. Teremtetem. Hauff +Lichtenstein+jében is Bassa Manelka. Ez bizonyára: Basszama lelkit akar lenni.)

I gather that the underlying meaning of Bassa Manelka --> Basszama lelkit , as I hypothesized... but I still don't know exactly what it means, literally.

There is a clue from Deutsche Akademie für Sprache und Dichtung 1999 pp15-16:

...Erst dann ruft er laut »Bassa Manelka!«, stürzt sich auf die Franzosen, wirft sie aus dem Sattel, schreit »Bassa Teremtetem!« und galoppiert triumphierend davon.... Dieser preußische Krieger fluchte nicht deutsch, sondern ungarisch -- und zwar sehr drastisch. Er verdammte die Seele dessen, der den anderen geschaffen hatte -- des Schöpfers."
Then he shouts "Bassa Manelka!", pounces on the Frenchmen, throws them out of the saddle, shouting "Bassa Teremtetem!" and gallops triumphantly away.... This Prussian warrior swore not (in) German but (in) Hungarian - and very drastically. He condemned the soul of the one who had created the other - of the Creator.

Now this seems very odd: from the HU original, is the curse aimed at the enemy, or at Himself who Created the enemy? Does it in fact entreat the Almighty to F--- the soul of the enemy?
Sehr schwache ungarische Kenntnisse...:)  #768649
by lajan (DE), 2014-09-13, 12:46  like dislike  Spam?  
baszama, baszamaszto, baszama teremtetete, b. zistenit.
baszama= basszam a...
baszamaszto=basszam azt a...
baszama teremtetete= basszam a teremtettét...
b. zistenit= b. az istenit

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