Can Anyone Help with Some Hungarian Rhymes?

Christine Winegar wrote me…

I am not sure where to begin. I am not looking for songs exactly. I really don’t know what to call them. If you know what I am talking about, I would love the English and Hungarian translation like you have on your web site. Here it goes!

My mom has been gone for 13 years now and my youngest never knew her. (He just turned 11). He keeps asking me to teach him this little thing she used to do on my hand.

The first one is easy. You start by holding the thumb, and work your way through each individual finger until you get to the pinky. It is like “This Little Piggy” except it makes sense. I am sorry, I can’t write in Hungarian, but the English translation is something like this… I think:

This one went hunting;
This one killed it;
This one took it home;
This one cooked it;
This little bitty one ate it all.

I can’t remember all the Hungarian words.

The second one I am looking for is harder. Instead of fingers, my mom would “draw” circles on my palm. She ended up going up my arm
until she tickled my neck. The first words I think were nonsensical. At least I have not found them in online dictionaries, but like I said, I can’t write Hungarian.

The “story” is about a priest making dinner and his (or a cat) ate it. (And they caught the cat by my neck usually). I am going to further embarrass myself by trying to write our what I remember to see if you recognize it. Here it goes:

Beszere, Beszere;
Mit fuszte Kasara;
something about a pokotzskaja;
hova let a Pap tszitszia;
ara szalat, ara szalat;
It foktak a tszitsza, tszitsza.

As I have built up the nerve to write to you, I am remembering more bits of my childhood. Hinta, Palinta,… Something about 2 soldiers fighting, and jumping into the dunabe. And one more if you don’t mind,…. Volt edgszer edgy kemensze. Something dirty a little boy climbs into, and gets so dirty his mom doesn’t recognize him. She locks the thing up, and spanks him.

If it makes a difference, my mom was from Hatvan. She left Hungary to avoid Russian retaliation. Does any of this stuff sound familiar to you? I am afraid that over time I have lost the words and the meanings, and now my children are interested, and I am afraid I won’t be able to pass on my heritage to them.

Thank you for all you time and effort.
Christine, in California
p.s. I recognized some of your songs, like the Crow one. It was fun to see it, but again I had forgotten a lot of the words.

Thanks again.

Response from Mama Lisa:

Dear Christine,

The first rhyme you asked about that’s like “This Little Piggy” may be Ez elment vadászni – This One Has Gone Shooting. You can check the link and see of that’s the one you’re looking for – please let us know in the comments below if that’s it. We have the words to Hinta, palinta. Click the link and you’ll get to the lyrics, English translation, tune and score.

If anyone can help Christine with any of her other questions, please comment below or email me.

Thanks in advance!


This article was posted on Saturday, June 28th, 2008 at 9:20 am and is filed under Countries & Cultures, Finger Plays, Hungarian, Hungary, Languages, Nursery Rhymes, Questions, Readers Questions. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

14 Responses to “Can Anyone Help with Some Hungarian Rhymes?”

  1. Petra F.T. Says:

    The second rhyme is “Kerekecske gombocska”, you can find it the page. :)

    And I know the dirty boy’s “tale”!

    Egyszer volt egy kemence

    Egyszer volt egy kemence, belebújt a kis Bence.
    Kormos volt a kemence, fekete lett a kis Bence.
    Ránézett a mamája, nem ismert a fiára.
    Becsukta a kemencét, jól elverte kis Bencét.

    Don’t afraid from “speak”, humming in hungarian, I know your words, humming your favourite sings to your children, and tell they the meaning. I recognised the half of the priest’s storys but we (I and my family) can’t tell it…

    Sorry if my english is bad:
    Petra F. T.

  2. Monique Says:

    I found that on line…

    Bezsere, bezsere, bezsere,
    Volt egyszer egy kertecske,
    Abba volt egy káposztácska,
    Rászokott a kisnyulacska,
    Arra ment a kert gazdája,
    Ide-oda futott a nyulacska.

    There seem to be other variants to “Ciróka, maróka”.

  3. Tinker Jack Says:

    THis is a Hungarian riddle!

    Zöld istállóban
    Fekete lovak
    Piros szénát esznek
    Mi az?

    Black horses
    Eating red hay
    In a green stable.
    What is that?

    Scroll down for the answer!

    Solution: Watermelon.

  4. Gaby Koppel Says:

    My mother used to sing me a nursery rhyme which went something like: “Debrezembe kene neni, pooi ka ka kash kene veni.” Can you please tell me if that is a known song, if so what the correct words, pronunciation and meaning are.


  5. Avatar Says:

    Christine in California!
    It is a Hungarian nursery rhyme sort of a game.
    It is played with the child’s hand and fingers sarting with the thumb.
    Ez element vadaszni -This one went to hunt
    Ez meglote -This one shot it
    Ez haza vitte -This one took it home
    Ez megsutotte -This one fried it
    Ez az ici pici mind megetted (the pinky)- This tiny little one ate it all…………than they trace a little circle in the palm of the child’s hand saying “Kerekecske gomboska ide szalad a nyulacska”……..and give the child a little tickle under his arm pit.
    Meaning Little wheel, little button the little rabbit runs there………..

  6. redwaratah Says:

    Gaby Koppel!
    That is one song I do remember:

    Debrecenbe kenne menni
    pulyka-kakast kenne venni,
    Vigyaz kocsis lukas a kas
    ki ugrik a pulyka-kakas.

    To Debrecen we must go,
    we need to buy a turkey
    look -out driver, the kas a hole in it,
    out will jump the turkey.

    and I have just had a cry of “Kis Bence”…. My mum passed away last year and she used to sing that to me all the time when I was a kid – we used to have a cat called Bence.

  7. redwaratah Says:

    I also love this silly song – much like the rhyme :
    Back to back they faced other ,
    drew their swords and shot each other…etc..

    This is about a dead frog who is croaking on a dry lake with a wet bank,
    A deaf man is listening and the lake is frolicking,
    Sej Haj we have dogs blood
    Sej Haj, the mouse is cycling.

    Blind man saw it, the limping man ran after it,
    The bald man is tearing at his hair and the mute is yelling .

    A rough translation to a very silly song – but I love it.

    Száraz tónak nedves partján döglött béka kuruttyol.
    Hallgatja egy süket ember ki a vízbe lubickol.
    Sej, haj, denevér, bennünk van a kutyavér,
    Sej, haj, denevér, biciklizik az egér.

    Vak meglátja, hogy kiugrik, sánta utánaszalad.
    Kopasz ember haját tépi, a néma meg óbégat.
    Sej, haj, denevér, bennünk van a kutyavér,
    Sej, haj, denevér, biciklizik az egér.

    Check out the Hungarian Scouts listing of all kiddy songs and rhymes.

  8. Erica Says:

    I have a similar problem,
    when I was little, and I would fall, my grandmother would rub her finger over my cut or bruise and say this Hungarian phrase….
    ( Please bare with me, this is sounding it out, I don’t know the real Hungarian words)
    “I vy Liba mi mimick jo jo hunnan fi”

    I’ve figured it something about a goose, but i can’t translate it to save my soul…..if anyone could help it would be GREATLY appreciated!!!!

  9. Lisa Says:

    I received this email:

    I know a version of the rhyme Christine was asking about – the porridge and the cat that ate it, a different version of Hinta Palinta, and the silly words my mother used to say when she drew circles on my palm, going up the arm to tickle my neck.

    Roka, Cziroka (Fox, rhyming word – stroking one’s cheeks with one’s baby’s feet or hands until the last line)
    Mit föztél? Kását. (What did you cook? Porridge.)
    Hova tetet? A polcra. (Where did you put it? On the shelf.)
    Ki ete meg? Pap macskáya. ( Who ate it up? The priest’s cat)
    Hám Hám Hám Hám Hám (Pretending to eat – kissing toes)

    Hinta Palinta (Swing, rhyming word)
    Két Krajczárér pálinka. (For two coins brandy. Song sung while pushing child in swing)

    Gizele, Mazele, kócs, kócs, kócs. First two words making circles on palm, the rest going up and gently tickling neck.

  10. Dino Says:

    This one went hunting;
    This one killed it;
    This one took it home;
    This one cooked it;
    This little bitty one ate it all.

    The original Hungarian words:

    Ez elment vadászni,
    ez meglőtte,
    ez hazavitte,
    ez megfőzte
    és ez a kicsi mind megette.


  11. Meg Says:

    My grandmother always used to do the palm thing and say the rhyme similar to This Little Piggie. But it ended with something that sounds like “neesu neesu neesu” which according to my cousin means cutting (off your head – as part of the story?). Does anyone else know this translation? My grandmother is not doing well and I’d love to be able to pass this on and learn the words to the whole thing.


  12. Ron Says:

    The second one may be an old German/Yiddish child’s rhyme my family used, also with the child’s fingers, palm and tickling arm up to armpit/neck. Here it is line by line with English translation:

    Saltz: salt (using child’s palm)
    Schamltz: chicken or goose fat used for frying foods (using child’s palm)
    Zeigefinger: index finger (pull finger)
    Haar [a-pulla?]: pull the hair
    Nase ziehen: pull the nose
    Ellenbogen: Elbow (in the palm)
    Lia, lia, bach: [nonsense words as you rub and then gently slap palm]
    Gehen das mausel en sein hausel: ‘the mouse goes into his house’ (as you tickle child up the arm.)

  13. paul Says:

    Did you know that Hatvan is meaning 60 in Hungarian and the city is called so, because its at 60 kms on tbe highway to Budapest n

  14. Lisa Says:

    Amy wrote:

    Hello, Lisa: My dad recently passed, so we cannot ask him or my grandma, unfortunately, but my sister and I would like to better understand the family tradition of saying (as close as I can remember):

    Peace-n-kolica Peace-n-kolica
    Ti ti ti ti

    They would stroke our cheeks while singing this. Can you help? Thank you!!

    Update: Later Amy added…

    I’ve been doing some more digging, and I came up with a close approximation, in English, of what they used to say:

    mucho mucho Chase
    mutual peace-n- kolika
    dice dice dice

    I suspect the following words are the translations, but I don’t know:

    kolika = grumpy/grumpiness
    mucza = hick?
    czesz = cup?

    Thank you!

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