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Mechthild von Knobelsdorff, Maggie to all, founded Hungarian for Expats in 2018, one of the most popular and practical language schools for foreigners keen to learn but sometimes too scared to try. The accent has always been on everyday use – as Maggie herself told We Love Budapest in 2019.
With this in mind, when the March shutdown came, Maggie was quick to adapt to the new circumstances: “Obviously this is a very stressful time for everyone and I know someone who didn’t speak much Hungarian, had to go into hospital and was really nervous about the situation”.
The idea for a Corona Mini-Dictionary also sprang from her own experiences as an English-speaking German expat. “My mother, whose English isn’t fluent, needed to go to hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was so relieved when she found that they had translators there.”
Back in spring, Maggie produced her first Covid-focused lexicon, “with references to masks and hand sanitiser that people are used to by now”.
Now with the pandemic sadly back in the frame once more, she has put together a second, more expansive edition, with versions in several languages as well as English. “It’s like the philosophy behind Hungarian for Expats,” she says. “We try to make everything as life-relevant as possible.”
Having spread word of her first dictionary through the HfE Facebook page, Maggie soon heard from people offering to translate her texts into other languages. Adapting this second edition to the current situation, and nicely bookending the mini-dictionary with a section on ‘Staying Positive’, Maggie and team have provided what might be an essential service for any non Hungarian-speaking foreigner here.