The following essay from the Hungarian daily Magyar Idők discusses the bizarre characteristics of the unnatural entity known as the European Union, and especially those of Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament.
CrossWare, who translated the piece for Gates of Vienna, had difficulty finding a direct translation of a particular Hungarian idiom. She said:
In Hungarian we have an expression for a super-bureaucratic office, where no decision is ever made and there is only the pushing of paper from one side to the other. It’s called sóhivatal, a “salt office” — in the Middle Ages that was the expression for bureaucracy and red tape.
I couldn’t come up with anything, either. There seems to be no precise analog in English that isn’t cumbersome. “Paper-pushers” describes the inhabitants of a salt office, and “make-work” describes what they do. Their positions may be “sinecures”. But we Anglophones don’t seem to have a concise, pithy term for the office itself.
The Hungarians have a useful expression in sóhivatal. English loves borrowing foreign words, so I suggest we borrow that one and make it our own idiom. If we can ever learn how to pronounce it, that is.
The translated essay:
by Ottó Gajdics
January 17, 2017
Martin Schulz is clearly clay-brained. We could prettify him, saying he has too big a coat on, and is undereducated for his position, but it’s best to say it bluntly: The president of the European Parliament has utterly lost common sense.
Otherwise, he would not continue with his arguments — even beyond the transfer of national powers to Brussels — when his salt-office EU has been unable to respond with a single able-bodied decision in its entire existence. He would stop smearing the Orbán government, because the prime minister is fighting tooth and nail to keep our country’s sovereignty, when more and more countries realize that nobody will protect them against the flood of migrants and the inevitably intensified terror threats, if they do not establish their own independent security measures. Schulz would not force the abnormal vision of the United States of Europe, if he were normal.
They say the fish rots from the head. The validity of this saying is demonstrated perfectly by the stupidity — they do not have to go to next door for it — of the representatives of the European Parliament. To provide proof, we collected examples from the magazine Politico to showcase what is keeping the elected ladies and gentlemen busy within the tingling safety of their astonishing salaries, while criminals, rapists and thousands of terrorists have flooded the continent, abusing our feelings of solidarity with the truly needy refugees.
First off, here is the proposal of Catalan Socialist MEP Javi Lopez about reviving the tradition of finch-singing tournaments, which were banned by the wicked Catalan government under pressure from the EU. The finch must first be caught, which contradicts the Catalan aspirations for independence, and the preparation for the competition is not animal cruelty but just the opposite: a convincing demonstration of the integration model, proving that the boringly-repeated basic values of European socialists can be accepted by anyone from finches to jihadists.
While almost half a million migrants slipped out of sight of the authorities, and the terrorists — after committing bloody terror acts — are traveling around Europe as if it they possessed the most modern methods of invisibility, the Italian Angelo Ciocca was asking in his latest speech whether the European Commission is planning to encourage people to establish snail-farms. While he finds it the most profitable business of the future, in the guise of snail saliva which can be applied to the face, he had not even considered that it might offer up new possibilities in the field of law enforcement. Snails pull saliva behind them. Perhaps studying them will give insight into how to track those cheating migrants — who register with a dozen fake identities and become rich on welfare — and make them visible to the authorities.
One representative named Ming Flanagan explained that the Irish have a different concept of time, and the EU definition of time infringes on the rights of Irish citizens. Since there is a theory that the perception of time does not exist, abolishing time would be the only solution which is not discriminatory. And from this lot it is not impossible to expect this.
But not to leave Hungarians out of the list of epoch-making proposals, consider this brilliant idea from Stephen Ujhelyi (Socialist) about traveling circuses. For most of the year our nation’s worthy son questioned the commission about when will it implement uniform regulation among the member states of this branch of art. Because it is discriminatory that in one place the rent for the location is different from another one. It’s just not right!
Of course, it is possible that he has the foresight to think ahead to when the peoples of Europe will sack all the clowns, political illusionists, and public policy acrobats like Schultz and Juncker, when it will be an important issue to calculate how much it will cost to park the company cars of the caravan.
I know that there are many of us who have been looking forward to this moment.
“In Hungarian we have an expression for a super-bureaucratic office, where no decision is ever made and there is only the pushing of paper from one side to the other.”
An unnecessary, wasteful, or fraudulent project:
“Boondoggle” is the project, not the office.
There was a time, in medieval days, when selling salt without govt permission was illegal. Predictably, thriving salt smuggling networks established themselves. I wonder if the Hungarian idiom harkens to those days.
Come to think of it, didn’t the British have a salt tax in India as well?
I am sure under such a boondoggle, a salt office becomes imperative, and people line up for the sinecures. 🙂
I tried looking this word up but it was all in Hungarian and my Hungarian is not that good so i am still mysified. Maybe in the morning — I’m usually slightly brighter in the am.
Here is the google translated page: https://translate.google.ca/translate?hl=en&sl=hu&u=https://hu.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%25C3%25B3hivatal&prev=search
Anybody has any comment other than the “salt-office”? How about these morons getting paid 10k-20k Euros per month and spending their time with finch singing competition, snail farms and travelling circuses?
Whenever I think of them I slide into fantasies of unbridled sadism.
Heh. Old news. I heard they have also worried about the bent in bananas and the ingredients of knackwursts. For quite a long time.
Good news, though, in all the bad: these expensive losers are finally being outed.
I would be happy if that was all the mischief they caused. Kind of like our own boy king impersonating a president. If all he did was play golf and travel Air Force 1 to exotic destinations with his entourage in tow, that would be preferrable to trying to start wars with Russia, destroying the economy, and importing Somali muslims by the tens of thousands.
The huge salaries are annoying, but if it keeps these troublemakers from interfering in the lives of the average person because they are too busy with trivialities, then it is a small price to pay. At least until they can be unceremoniously booted out by their posterior so hard that they bounce.
The picture of this gormless group is fascinating. It calls to mind “Circus Breivik” in 2011. That was the so-called ‘trial’ of the mass-murderer, first in a truck explosion in Oslo proper, and later, using handguns against unarmed young adults on Utoyah Island.
Among other bureaucratic atrocities, one of the judges at the trial was seen playing some card game on his computer during the trial.
The Baron created a wonderful photoshopped image of the murderers and his lawyers, dressed in circus clown costumes. They appeared to be imitating some kind of TV series hotshot attorney show – but their off-the-rack clothing put paid to that image. So the Baron dressed ’em up.
I looked for the image in our archives but since I switched away from Google and Microsoft, finding things is harder…
a person who has or claims to have a great deal of authority or influence.
“the greatest scientific panjandrum of the 19th century”
The German language uses the word “Salzamt”.
It seems we are using it very frequently right now…
Salzamt is the German word for Sóhivatal.
From Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens (Chapter 10):
“Because the Circumlocution Office went on mechanically, every day, keeping this wonderful, all-sufficient wheel of statesmanship, How not to do it, in motion. Because the Circumlocution Office was down upon any ill-advised public servant who was going to do it, or who appeared to be by any surprising accident in remote danger of doing it, with a minute, and a memorandum, and a letter of instructions that extinguished him. It was this spirit of national efficiency in the Circumlocution Office that had gradually led to its having something to do with everything. Mechanicians, natural philosophers, soldiers, sailors, petitioners, memorialists, people with grievances, people who wanted to prevent grievances, people who wanted to redress grievances, jobbing people, jobbed people, people who couldn’t get rewarded for merit, and people who couldn’t get punished for demerit, were all indiscriminately tucked up under the foolscap paper of the Circumlocution Office.”
Dickens surely provides a perfect title for such bureaucratic futility:
In his novel ‘Little Dorrit’ the fictional British institution of the ‘Circumlocution Office’ satirises the incompetence of Victorian bureaucracy. In this place, Arthur Clennam is constantly passed from one official to another, in an utterly forlorn pursuit of truth and justice.
The Dickensian character’s situation is similar to the predicament of Franz Kafka’s helpless Josef K, bamboozled and browbeaten inside the labyrinthine conspiracies of arbitrary modern power, in ‘The Trial.’
So I suppose a translator might have employed either ‘Circumlocution Office’ as a direct equivalent of ‘Salt Office,’ so as to naturalize the Hungarian to an English idiom; or he might have preferred the more modern cultural reference, and helpfully qualified the particular ethos of the ‘Salt Office’ with the addition of the adjective ‘Kafkaesque.’
“sóhivatal” equivalent? Would “deasil-widdershins” of bureaucracy do?
Nigel Farage used to tear into Schultz with regularity when he was at the Euro Parliament.