January 20, 2018

I’ve just come across the most fantastic word, and I have a thing for words.

The word is mulatsag, which I have no idea how to pronounce. Given that it’s Hungarian - considered one of the hardest languages in the world to learn - I’m not going to try. But I love the contextual definition I found.

I’ve been reading Turing’s Cathedral, a wonderful history of computing in the 20th Century. One of the main characters in this tale is Johnny von Neumann, who is rapidly becoming one of my personal heroes. Anyway, Klari von Neumann, his wife, describes some of their big family occasions in Budapest:

It is absolutely impossible to translate ‘mulatsag’ in one simple word. It is not a party, it is not a feast, it is not even an orgy; it is simply the spontaneous combustion of a bunch of people having a good time.

I absolutely adore this and I wish I could define a word like this. Her definition resonates in a way that most people will understand.

I think this is the state that my friends and I try to achieve when we celebrate feast days or all get together. It’s not a party or a feast exactly. Now I have a word for it: mulatsag. Spontaneous combustion. It’s not something you can make, it’s something you have to let happen. Fantastic.

As a footnote, I’m working on focusing on quantity over quality, which means shorter and hopefully more frequent writings. Hopefully more on this idea soon.

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