Here’s another puzzle for you. It was sent in by a visitor to Omniglot, who writes:

Hoping you can help solve this mystery phrase. My great grandmother used to say this phrase, “I de vreet”, which sounded like “eye deh vreat”. If you could give any insight into what this means. We think it might be Hungarian but are not sure.

Any suggestions?

This entry was posted in Language, Puzzles.

22 Responses to Puzzle

  1. Jayan says:

    I’m 99% positive it isn’t Hungarian. It looks (/sounds?) like dutch to me, but I don’t know what it means. Can you give us some of the context in which she used the phrase?

  2. dreaminjosh says:

    Can the person give any info on their great grandmother’s background? Do they just THINK she’s hungarian or is that information being withheld for the sake of this being a challenge of some sort?

  3. stuna says:

    The way it is written it sure _looks_ dutch to me, but… the way it _sounds_… well, let’s say it seams as swearing in croatian (or serbian, bosnian) in meaning of italian ‘vaffanculo’ or english f.u. In that case it’s written as ‘Ajde v rit’. Then, again, I could be completely off…

  4. Nick says:

    Since the phrase sounds Germanic, not Hungarian, is it possible that the woman was a Yiddish or German Speaker who was from Hungary?

  5. Krittles says:

    She would often use it when eating or with food, but she would also say it to the dog at times. She was hungarian, polish, solvak, german, and a mix of other things. My grandmother now believes that she spoke in Hungarian so that’s why I said that. The number of words in the phrase can be off it could simply be only one or two words. I keep soming up with Ide de vriet or Ide dev veriet, but have not found what language it is yet.

  6. Yenlit says:

    Could it be something like Serbo-Croatian or along the lines of a Slavic dialect rather than Germanic? It seems a bit odd for a grandmother to be saying ‘vreet’ if it were the 2nd person singular past tense of Dutch ‘vrijen’ – isn’t that a euphemism for ‘having sex’ in Dutch?

  7. Yenlit says:

    Google translate offers – ‘and to digest’ in Croatian if you enter in ‘i da varit’?

  8. michael farris says:

    My money is on stuna being right here.

  9. stuna says:

    variti (serbian) = to digest (eng.) = probaviti (croatian). (I did quick search, btw: it seems that it’s also a slang of serbian youth for ‘smoking weed’:)
    Needless to say, GT is not always accurate in his translations…

  10. I also think that stuna’s explanation is plausible.

  11. Jeremy says:

    Doesn’t Yenlit’s suggestion “and to digest” make most sense given the occasions she used the phrase. It sound’s like a more awkward translation of “let’s eat”, or similar to “à manger”.

  12. stuna says:

    There are two problems:
    a) OP doesn’t know how it’s spelled, or how many words are in there, only how it’s pronounced. So assuming that we can determine the origin/the language on base of writing down the phrase leads to wrong conclusions…
    b) just as assuming that on base of that assumption we can translate it correctly in GT, which, on the other hand, can output in completely wrong language (see [9]).
    Agreed that swearing, considering the context OP mentioned, it seems a little strange, but then again… that wouldn’t be the strangest thing I’ve heard.
    But, as it is said “My great grandmother” and family (grandmother) thinks it could be hungarian, one should consider the fact that in time the great grandmother lived there was Habsburg Monarchy (see http://www.angelfire.com/tx5/texasczech/Studies/The%20Habsburgs.htm: dissolved in 1918), which included, among others, the Hungary and Croatia (as we know them today). So, although small, there is a possibility…
    If the name and/or family name of the great grandmother could be provided, that would be helpfull.

  13. Drabkikker says:

    @ Yenlit and others:
    Vrijen is indeed the polite Dutch word for having sex. However, the past tense would not be vreet (at least not in standard Dutch), but vree. Rather, vreet the singular form of the impolite verb for ‘to eat’ vreten, cognate to German fressen. As a noun, de vreet is an (again, impolite) term for somebody’s mouth or face (the thing you vreet with). For instance, Hou je vreet (== German Halt deine Fresse) could be translated as ‘Shut your face’.

    However this may be, the phrase as a whole (either written or spoken) doesn’t strike me as Dutch, and, considering grandma’s ethnic background, this doesn’t seem too likely an option anyway.

  14. Squary says:

    Pretty much what stuna mention, but if the pronounciation of “i” is “eye”, it sure as hell isn’t Croatian. How many languages can spell [ai] as “I” apart from English? And is “I de vreet” actual SPELLING or anywhere close? For all we know, it may just as well be two or one words.

  15. Yenlit says:

    @Stuna – all suggestions while tinkering around with google translate seemed to offer words with the notion of ‘boil’, ‘cook’, ‘ferment’ and ‘digest’ in the Slavic language selection.
    @Drabkikker – of course you’re right, I should of written: second person DIALECTICAL singular past indicative of vijen.
    Sorry about that.

  16. stuna says:

    Krittles [5] explained “The number of words in the phrase can be off it could simply be only one or two words. I keep soming up with Ide de vriet or Ide dev veriet…”
    @Yenlit [15]
    How can we expect to translate something we don’t know how to spell/write? The only thing we know is pronounciation: “which sounded like ‘eye deh vreat’”. GT works with written words, AFAIK, not spoken words. In order to “tinker around with google translate” one has to assume certain spelling (something we can’t be sure of) – that’s what I was geting at in [12].
    @Squary [14]
    Excatly! See above…
    Because we don’t know actual spelling, who says that ‘i’ has to be single word (and therefore an english word)? As much as we know it could be spelled together ‘eye-deh’ – hence what I said in [12]: it corresponds perfectly with the pronounciation of croatian phrase ‘ ajde v rit’.

  17. LAttilaD says:

    Absolutely sure it has nothing to do with Hungarian. There is no Hungarian word beginning with vr. Also, the diphthong [ai], what’s the pronunciation of English I and eye, is very rare (and it’s never a real diphthong since Hungarian doesn’t know diphthongs).

  18. bronz says:

    I think stuna’s definitely in the right direction.

    “Ajde” is a very common Croatian (& Serbian/Bosnian, even Slovak) expression. When used alone, it means more or less “come on,” “let’s go,” or “let’s get going,” etc.

    As Yenlit pointed out, the consonant sequence v-r-t gives the possible translation “to digest” (“variti” in Croatian), so regardless of what the exact vowels are and the conjugation, this is a very plausible conclusion given the context. Krittles’ great-grandmother must have said something equivalent to “(come on,) eat up.”

  19. Eliza says:

    @Drabkikker – Ik weet waar jouw huis woont!!!!! ;-)

  20. stuna says:

    ‘variti’ is not croatian for ‘to digest’. Croatian word for it is ‘probaviti’.

  21. bronz says:

    I found it on various online dictionaries as a possible definition. It is entirely possible that three generations ago the great-grandmother in question did not speak a dialect/variety word-for-word similar to standard Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian today. Krittles did mention her great-grandmother was part Slovak too; who knows what variety she spoke exactly.

  22. flo says:

    It sounds an awful lot like the Romanian expression ‘Haide bre’ which I’d translate into ‘Come on, dude’. I think it’s used in other parts of the Balkans too.