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THE HUNGARIAN LANGUAGE

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Miercurea Ciuc (Romania)

THE HUNGARIAN LANGUAGE

Hungarian is a Uralic language related to not more than two European languages: Finnish and Estonian, but only the grammatical structure and some basic vocabulary look similar to these languages.

 

Hungarian  Estonian and Finnish English
ti te you (plural)
vér veri blood
víz vesi

water


Hungarian is spoken as a first language by approximately 14.5 million people, not only in Hungary, but also in several neighbouring countries: in Romania, is Slovakia, in Serbia, in Ukraine, in Croatia, in Austria and in Slovenia.

n Romania approximately one and a half million people consider themselves Hungarian, thus they form the largest ethnic minority groups in Romania, making up 6.6% of the total population. For historic reasons, most ethnic Hungarians of Romania live in the region of Transylvania, where they share a common history with Romanians, Germans and Rromas.

Hungarians call themselves and their language "magyar". Romanians also call Hungarians by this name "maghiari".

When traveling across Transylvania, keep in mind that cultures and languages have no boarders like countries have! So don’t get confused if you here phrases like:

"romániai magyar" (HU) | maghiar din România (RO) | Hungarian (ethnic) Romanian (EN)
 

If you endeavor to learn some basic Hungarian, besides the "international words" ("iskola" – school, "posta" – post office, "december" – december, "busz" – bus, "rózsa" – rose, "telefon" - telephone) the following hints might help you:

1. Always stress the first syllable of each word!
A MAgyar  LÁnyok  SZÉpek. (Hungarian girls are beautiful).
The remaining syllables all receive an equal, lesser stress, but all syllables are pronounced clearly and evenly, even at the end of a sentence, unlike in English.

2. Accents on Hungarian vowels do not mark the stress, but the length of the vowel.
autó (car) – "A" is tressed, but "O" is pronounced long.
levél (letter) – "LE" is stressed, but "É" is pronounced long

 

The 44 letters of the greater Hungarian alphabet are:

A, a

autó

a sound between ‘a' and ‘o', like the English ‘a' in what, hot

car

Á, á

barát

like the English ‘a' in, car

friend/monk

B, b

domb

like the English ‘b' in baby

hill

C, c

táncos

like the English ‘ts' in its, tsunami

dancer

Cs, cs

Csíkszereda

like the English ‘ch' in church

 

D, d

diák

like the English ‘d' in dance

student

Dz, dz

bodza

like the English ‘ds' in Hudson, feeds

elder-berry

Dzs, dzs

dzsem

like the English ‘j' in jeans, jungle

jam

E, e

testvér

like the English ‘e' in set, bed

brother/sster

É, é

édes

like the English café, fail

sweet

F, f

fa

like the English ‘f' in fish

wood/tree

G, g

sógor

like the English ‘g' in go

sister-in-law

Gy, gy

nagytata

similar to the English ‘d' in duke, during

grandfather

H, h

hegy

like the English ‘h' in hi, human

mountain

I, i

igen

like the English ‘i' in thick, thin

yes

Í, í

borvíz

like the English ‘ea' in easy, sea

Mineral water

J, j

bejárat

like the English ‘y' in you, yes

entrance

K, k

kávé

like the English ‘k' in kiss

Coffe

L, l

dél

like the English ‘l' in love

noon

Ly, ly

jégpálya

like the English ‘y' in you, yes

ice rink

M, m

lakodalom

like the English ‘m' in mother

wedding feast

N, n

nem

like the English ‘n' in no

no

Ny, ny

lány

like the English ‘n' in new

girl/daughter

O, o

holnap

like the English ‘o' in force

tomorrow

Ó, ó

óra

similar to the English ‘ow' in snow, blow

watch

Ö, ö

mögött

similar to the English ‘u' in burn, curly

behind

Ő, ő

idő

not used in English, a longer variant of ö

time

P, p

péntek

like the English ‘p' in peace

priest

R, r

reggel

like the English ‘r' in red, but slightly rolled

morning

S, s

este

like the English ‘sh' in shop, shave

evening

Sz, sz

szombat

like the English ‘s' in sound, skip

Saturday

T, t

tegnap

like the English ‘t' in tell

yesterday

Ty, ty

tyúk

similar to the ‘tue' in Tuesday

hen

U, u

anyu

like the English ‘u' in bull

mami

Ú, ú

fiú

like the English ‘oo' in cool, fool

boy/son

Ü, ücs

csütörtök

not used in English, like Hungarian ‘i' with lips protruded as if to whistle

Thursday

Ű, ű

hegedű

not used in English, a longer variant of ‘ü'

violin

V, v

vonat

like the English ‘v' in very

train

Z, z

zárva

like the English ‘s' in rose

close

Zs, zs

rózsa

like the English ‘su' in leisure, pleasure

rose


Modern Hungarian is written using an expanded Latin alphabet, and has a phonemic orthography, i.e. pronunciation can generally be predicted from the written language. In addition to the standard letters of the Latin alphabet, Hungarian uses several modified Latin characters to represent the additional vowel sounds of the language:

- Letters with accents (á,é,í,ó,ú) to represent long vowels;

- Umlauts ("ö" and "ü") and their long counterparts "ő" and "ű" to represent front vowels (Hungarian is the only language using both "ő" and "ű");

- Letter pairs "ny", "ty", and "gy" represent the palatal consonant pairs on "n", "t" and "g"

- Letter "zs" is pronounced /ʒ/ and "cs" is /t͡ʃ/

- Letter "s" is propunced /ʃ/ and "sz" is pronounced /s/