WARNING this blog does not have anything to do with hovercrafts or eels!

HovercraftThe Hungarian Phrasebook sketch from Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Set: A tobacconist’s shop.

Text on screen: In 1970, the British Empire lay in ruins, and for­eign nation­al­ists fre­quen­ted the streets — many of them Hungarians (not the streets — the for­eign nation­als).   Anyway, many of these Hungarians went into tobacconist’s shops to buy cigarettes…

A Hungarian tour­ist (John Cleese) approaches the clerk (Terry Jones). The tour­ist is read­ing halt­ingly from a phrase book.

Hungarian: I will not buy this record, it is scratched.
Clerk: Sorry?
Hungarian: I will not buy this record, it is scratched.
Clerk: Uh, no, no, no. This is a tobacconist’s.
Hungarian: Ah! I will not buy this tobac­con­ists, it is scratched.
Clerk: No, no, no, no. Tobacco… um… cigar­ettes. (Holds up a pack.)
Hungarian: Ya! See-gar-ets! Ya! Uh… My hov­er­craft is full of eels.
Clerk: Sorry?
EelsHungarian: My hov­er­craft (pan­to­mimes puff­ing a cigar­ette) …is full of eels
(pre­tends to strike a match).
Clerk: Ahh, matches!
Hungarian: Ya! Ya! Ya! Ya! Do you waaaaant… do you waaaaaant… to come
back to my place, bouncy bouncy?
Clerk: Here, I don’t think you’re using that thing right.
Hungarian: You great poof.
Clerk: That’ll be six and six, please.
Hungarian: If I said you had a beau­ti­ful body, would you hold it against me?
I… I am no longer infec­ted.
Clerk: Uh, may I, uh… (takes phrase book, flips through it) …Costs six and
six… ah, here we are. (speaks weird Hungarian-sounding words)
Hungarian punches the clerk.

Meanwhile, a police­man (Graham Chapman) on a quiet street cups his ear as if
hear­ing a cry of dis­tress. He sprints for many blocks and finally enters the

Cop: What’s going on here then?
Hungarian: Ah. You have beau­ti­ful thighs.
Cop: (looks down at him­self) WHAT?!?
Clerk: He hit me!
Hungarian: Drop your panties, Sir William; I can­not wait ’til lunch­time.
(points at clerk)
Cop: RIGHT!!! (drags Hungarian away by the arm)
Hungarian: (indig­nantly) My nipples explode with delight!

(scene switches to a courtroom. Characters are all in powdered wigs and judi­cial robes, except pub­lisher and cop. Characters:
Judge: Terry Jones
Bailiff: Eric Idle
Lawyer: John Cleese
Cop: Graham (still)
Publisher: Michael Palin )

Bailiff: Call Alexander Yalt!
(voices sing out the name sev­eral times)
Judge: Oh, shut up!
Bailiff: (to pub­lisher) You are Alexander Yalt?
Publisher: (in a sing-songy voice) Oh, I am.
Bailiff: Skip the imper­son­a­tions. You are Alexander Yalt?
Publisher: I am.
Bailiff: You are hereby charged that on the 28th day of May, 1970, you did will­fully, unlaw­fully, and with malice of fore­thought, pub­lish an alleged English-Hungarian phrase book with intent to cause a breach of the peace. How do you plead?
Publisher: Not guilty.
Bailiff: You live at 46 Horton Terrace?
Publisher: I do live at 46 Horton ter­race.
Bailiff: You are the dir­ector of a pub­lish­ing com­pany?
Publisher: I am the dir­ector of a pub­lish­ing com­pany.
Bailiff: Your com­pany pub­lishes phrase books?
Publisher: My com­pany does pub­lish phrase books.
Bailiff: You did say 46 Horton Terrace, did you?
Publisher: Yes.
Bailiff: (strikes a gong) Ah! Got him!
(law­yer and cop applaud, laugh)
Judge: Get on with it, get on with it.
Bailiff: That’s fine. On the 28th of May, you pub­lished this phrase book.
Publisher: I did.
Bailiff: I quote an example. The Hungarian phrase mean­ing “Can you dir­ect me to the sta­tion?” is trans­lated by the English phrase, “Please fondle my bum.”
Publisher: I wish to plead incom­pet­ence.
Cop: (stands) Please may I ask for an adjourn­ment, m’lord?
Judge: An adjourn­ment? Certainly not!

(the cop sits down again, emit­ting per­haps the longest and loudest release of bod­ily gas in the his­tory of the universe.)

Judge: Why on earth didn’t you say WHY you wanted an adjourn­ment?
Cop: I didn’t know an accept­able legal phrase, m’lord.
(cut to ancient foot­age of old women applaud­ing)
Judge: (banging + swinging gavel) If there’s any more stock film of women applaud­ing, I’ll clear the court.

4 thoughts on “WARNING this blog does not have anything to do with hovercrafts or eels!

  1. I was pleased to see the trans­la­tions included Volapuk as well as Esperanto — but would have liked Glossa or Interglossa…

  2. I heard a great story once — from real life — about a young couple in Greece. As they paid the bill in a res­taur­ant, the waiter said to the man, ‘Your wife, she has lovely nipples.’ ‘Pardon??!‘
    ’Your wife, she has lovely nipples.’ ‘Sorrry???!!‘
    ’Your wife, she has lovely nipples,’ repeats the waiter, ges­tur­ing to his cheeks, just on either side of the mouth…

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