What do you know about Hungary and Hungarian ?

Gjones2   Friday, May 27, 2005, 15:53 GMT
Geography: Budapest is supposed to be beautiful, and the name has to do with the rivers. Hungary is a long way from the ocean. It's relatively flat. That really is about all I know about the geography, though I may recognize the names of some other cities.

Literature: I've read writers from Hungary who wrote in German, but I tend to place them among the other persons who wrote in German rather than think of them as Hungarian. They may have been greatly influenced by being Hungarian, but I don't recall anything about it. By the way, maybe somebody can tell me this. What's the name of the Hungarian writer who was killed by a falling limb from a Parisian tree? Or am I confusing him with somebody else? I believe he was Jewish, and he wrote in German. (It's possible I'm confusing him with another German-language writer from Bavaria.)

Experiences with Hungarians: Here in the United States I've played on a volleyball team with a Hungarian immigrant. He spoke English almost like a native. Also I worked with a Hungarian programmer. He didn't speak English quite as well, but he was excellent at programming. I've never lived where there are many Hungarians, and as far as I know, I've never seen two Hungarians together speaking Hungarian to each other (maybe I should have gotten the volleyball player and programmer together and listened).

Radio: I used to listen to shortwave radio as a hobby, and decades ago I occasionally listened to Radio Budapest (not in Hungarian but in languages that I could understand). I suppose I must have heard some Hungarian there from time to time but don't recall what it sounds like.

Even though I don't know much about Hungary, I see that it's still possible to write a good bit. I figure that's enough, though, to get an idea of the depth (or rather superficiality) of my knowledge.
Fredrik from Norway   Friday, May 27, 2005, 16:08 GMT
I am going to Budapest and the Balaton Lake in June, really looking forward to it. After what I have calculated on the net the train journey from Budapest to Balaton will just cost something like 4 punds, ridicilously cheap!!!
Gjones2   Friday, May 27, 2005, 16:13 GMT
>Yeah, I also recall this from my stamp collecting days: Magyar Posta!
It sounded a bit mystic and exotique, I remember...

You remember better than I do. I like 'Magyar Posta' too.
Sanja   Friday, May 27, 2005, 17:11 GMT
I was in Hungary in 1998 on my high school excursion. It's a nice country, very clean. Most people I met didn't speak English, though. (But then again, most people don't speak it here in Bosnia either...LOL.)
A Szekely from Transilvania   Friday, May 27, 2005, 17:26 GMT
>>>>Hungarian has many interesting dialects both inside and out of present day Hungary, and there are also the Szekelys in Eastern Transylvania, who consider themselves to be seperate people and language, although they are easily mutually intelligble.<<<<<

I am a Szekely from Transylvania (Romania) I speak an archaic Hungarian and Romanian , I do look Hungarian but I am not HUNGARIAN…

Hungary used the Szekely population from Romania to reacquire the (everybody’s wanted) Transylvania …But we are not HUNGARIANS.We came to Transylvania before them (Hungarians). And setled here among the Transylvanians. Later the Hungarians tribe invaded the Balkans and forcedly baptised us as Hungarians. It’s like saying that Austrians are Germans! I have never been to Hungary nor my past 5 generations…I lived all my life in Transylvania and I speak Romanian a beautiful romance language but I am a Szekely!!! Not Romanian or Hungarian.

People say there are many Hungarians in Romania…NO THERE ARE NOT..It’s just us the Szekely…just few Hungarians…

So we lived in peace with the Romanians, but not lately because the Austro-Hungarian government after conquering Transylvania and us, the Szekely. They basically re-named us Hungarians to show their “fake influence” in Romania.

We Szekely lived in Romania for 1000 years. And even before the Hungarians dreamed of Europe…And we are not anti-Romanian and we hate the chauvinisti nationalistic, Hungarian government …

People you should know that the Hungarian Government offered to us, (the Szekely) Hungarians ID cards…just to gain the control in Transylvania …But we refused saying “ since when are we Hungarians “ ? LOL ?

We don’t hate the intelectual Hungarians who suport us…but we hate the Hungarian government who raised the Romanians against us to provoke a dispute, so later we the Szekely, ask for their help! No way dear Hungarians, we love Transylvania we are a minority who lived here for 1000 years with the Romanians (our Brothers in law) and we shared with them good and bad and I would rather trust a Romanian, than a Hungarian who thinks I am just “a lost in space Hungarian bread “…

Please excuse my grammar and spelling mistakes , Or my “ high spirit” attitude.
Deborah   Friday, May 27, 2005, 17:27 GMT
<< I've never lived where there are many Hungarians, and as far as I know, I've never seen two Hungarians together speaking Hungarian to each other >>

This is just about true for me. I heard my dance teacher and his wife (American born of Hungarian parents) speaking Hungarian to each other once, but so briefly that I barely have an idea of how it sounds. I'm sure I wouldn't recognize it if I heard it again, unless I heard the few words I know: numbers 1-10, yes, no, how are you, love, large, white, man, woman, tall, thin, slow, fast and love. (I learned the last 3 from Hungarian folk dancing, which reminds me of another word I know — csárdás.)

I saw a performance of Hungarian folk music and dance by a folk ensemble in San Francisco. It was very good, except for one glaring error. One song started with a solo woman singing the word for love, “szerelem”. The syllables were drawn out very long, and she pronounced the second syllable with an American, unrolled “R” followed by a schwa, making the word sound like “Sarah Lem”. I don’t know how their voice coach could have let that go by.
Sanja   Friday, May 27, 2005, 18:21 GMT
I would definitely recognise written Hungarian and I think I would have to listen carefully to recognise spoken Hungarian (even though I have heard quite a lot of it, I even used to listen to their radio station when I was there, but it was a long time ago and only for a short period of time).
Gjones2   Friday, May 27, 2005, 18:25 GMT
I got curious about how Hungarian sounds, so I'm downloading some MP3 files:

I imagine that that there are Hungarian radio stations that can be heard on the net too.
Adam   Friday, May 27, 2005, 18:27 GMT
Hungarian is a member of the Finno-Ugraic family of languages and is therefore closely related to Finnish and Estonian. Like Finnish, Estonian and English, it has no grammatical gender.

Its definite article is "a" for words that begin with a consonant and "az" for words that begin witha vowel. It has no indefinite article.
Adam   Friday, May 27, 2005, 18:40 GMT
Forming plurals is quite difficult in Hungarian, because the language has a thing called "vowel harmony" - which is also used in Finnish. That means there are two types of vowels in Hungarian - "back vowels" and "front vowels." Most vowels contain either just back vowels, as well as the consonants, or front vowels, as well as consonants. If a word contains back vowels, you add "ek" at the end of the word to form the plural. If contains front vowels, you add "ok" for the plural. However, if a word contains both back vowels AND front vowels, you treat it as a back vowel word by adding "ek." Also, most words of one consonant have "ak" added to make the plural.

e - é
i - í
ö - &#337;

a - á
o - ó
u - ú
ü - &#369;

Therefore "gyerek" (child) becomes "gyerekek" in the plural.

"Vann" (house) is "vannak" in the plural. So:-

"A gyerekek a házban vannak." means "The children are in the house."
Adam   Friday, May 27, 2005, 18:45 GMT
Basics of Hungarian grammar

We don't have genders in our grammar. So there is no "he" and "she", and no gender for words either. This is why Hungarian people occasionally say "he" for a girl or vice versa.

Unlike in several major languages, the first letters of certain words are not capitalised (as in German, or "Monday", "I", "English" in English). The only capitals are for names/places, etc., and for the first letter of a sentence.

The order of words is not fixed, in contrast to English. Usually the sequence of the words reflects decreasing importance. For example:

holnap = tomorrow
moziba = to the cinema
megyek = I (will) go

Holnap moziba megyek. = [default]
Holnap moziba megyek. = I will go to the cinema tomorrow.
Moziba megyek holnap. = I will go to the cinema tomorrow.
Megyek holnap moziba. = I will go to the cinema tomorrow.
Elmegyek moziba holnap. = I will go to the cinema tomorrow. (It's sure.)
Én megyek holnap moziba. = I will go to the cinema tomorrow.

There is also the same order for questions:

Holnap moziba megyünk. = We will go to the cinema tomorrow.
Holnap megyünk moziba? = Will we go to the cinema tomorrow?
Holnap moziba megyünk? = Will we go to the cinema tomorrow?
Megyünk holnap moziba? = Will we go to the cinema tomorrow?

Generally personal pronouns are used only for emphasis, since the subject is known from the inflection:

I read = olvasok = én olvasok
you read = olvasol = te olvasol
he/she reads = olvas = õ olvas

The Hungarian language is "additive" which means that we meld some letters to the end of the word. Some examples for inflection:

table = asztal
on table = asztalON
to table = asztalHOZ
onto table = asztalRA,

Plural is indicated by adding a "k" at the end of the word. To make pronunciation easier, sometimes a vowel is inserted:

tables = asztaloK.

We don't use plural for units and multiple things with their quantity given:

100 forint, 10 kg, 2 asztal, etc.

Please note that Hungarian is a very rich language. We have lots of synonyms for a word. For example, there are appr. 200 different words describing the breed and the colouring of a horse.

We create "new" words by adding some of them also (compounds), just like "public transport" = "tömeg+közlekedés" but it is not so elaborate as in the German language. If a new expression is put together from at least three words and it would be longer than 6 syllables, a hyphen is compulsory: ideg-összeroppanás (nervous break-down).

A nice grammatical example: "megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért" where:

szent = holy/sacred
szentség = holiness/sanctity
szentségtelen = unholy
(meg)szentségtelenít = to profane/desecrate (to make unholy)
megszentségteleníthetetlen = unprofanable (can not make unholy)
megszentségteleníthetetlenség = unprofanableness
megszentségteleníthetetlenséges = unprofanablenessish
[a thing that is almost impossible to make unholy]
megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedés = [doing/making the above]
megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedése = [somebody's above]
megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedései = [plural of the above]
megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitek = [your ...]
megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért = [for your ...]

Of course, nobody uses this word. It can be found only in grammar books.

Adam   Friday, May 27, 2005, 18:51 GMT
In fact, Hungarian DOES have an indefinite article, but it is not used as often as in the Indo-European languages -

The Indefinite Article
The indefinite article in Hungarian is egy, which also means 'one'. However, it is used less frequently than in English. Look at the following sentences:
O" turista.
He is (a) tourist.
Egyetemista vagyok.
I am (a) student.

In the above sentences, the article is required in English, but not in Hungarian. You will get a feel of when to use the article once you have been exposed to more sentences and had some practice.

Ez and Az
The Hungarian words ez and az correspond to English 'this' and 'that' respectively, in the context of both 'that book is good' and 'that is a book' (French, for example, makes a difference between 'that' in these two contexts). When ez or az is modifying the noun, as in 'that book', the Hungarian noun must be preceded by the definite article a or az. Examine the following sentences:
Ki ez?
Who's this?

Ez az autó szép.
This car is pretty.

Az az autó is szép.
That car is also pretty.

Ez az asztal.
This is the table.
Note: Ez az asztal can mean 'this is the table' or 'this table...' but here it must be the former because the latter is not a complete sentence.

Here are some practical greetings:
Jó reggelt (kívánok) - Good morning
Jó napot (kívánok) - Hello (formal, literally 'good day')
Jó estét (kívánok) - Good evening
Jó éjszakát (kívánok) - Good night
Note: the above expression are both formal and informal. The kívánok is optional and slightly more formal. With kívánok, the expressions mean 'I wish you good morning', etc...

A viszontlátásra - Goodbye (formal)
Szervusz (Szervusztok to more than one person) - Hello/Goodbye (informal)
Szia (Sziasztok to more than one person) - Hello/Goodbye (more informal)

Hogy van? - How are you? (formal)
Hogy vagy? - How are you? (informal)
Note: When you ask Hogy vagy? in Hungarian, you are really asking how they are, unlike in English where 'how are you' is a polite greeting. A good answer to the question would be: Jól vagyok, 'I am fine (well)'.

Vowel Harmony
Vowel harmony is a very important concept in Hungarian. Vowels are divided into two categories, front and back. Examine the following table:
Back Vowels a á o ó u ú
Front Vowels e é i í ö o" ü u"

The concept is important when adding suffixes and, as you will discover, Hungarian has plenty of suffixes. Suffixes usually come in groups of two, so which one to use depends on whether the word is a front word (consisting of front vowels) or a back word (consisting of back vowels). A word that is mixed (contains both front and back vowels) is most often a back word, and in the case of a compound word (two words put together) one must use the vowels in the second word. And, finally, sometimes there is a third suffix to chose from that applies only words in what is called the -ö, o", ü, u"- sub-category. This may seem confusing at first, but take a look at some sample words and it may seem clearer:

Back Words Front Words Front ö,o",ü,u" Words
asztal étterem ül
barát üveg külföld
gulyás keres küld
virág (mixed) útlevél (compound)
Deborah   Friday, May 27, 2005, 22:09 GMT
What else I know about Hungary is that I've always liked the folk music very much, and I love Bartók's music (Béla Bartók).
Sander   Friday, May 27, 2005, 22:14 GMT
He Adam could you mention the source ? The website you got your information from?! Do you ever typ a sentence yourself?!
A1C Tom K.   Saturday, May 28, 2005, 02:02 GMT
(K. Stands for Kun)
Now this is a thread I'd be interested in! My father and his family emigrated from Hungary to the US shortly after World War II when the Communists took over Hungary. I have a lot of Hungarian relatives in New Jersey and various parts of Hungary, and most of them don't know a whole lot of English. Last time I was in Hungary I was 17 and didn't know a word of the language, and that really annoyed me because I didn't like being left out of all these discussions going on. Now I can speak it about as well as some of them can speak English (i.e. slowly with a bit of an accent) but at least I can carry on a conversation with them. At least I could if I ever found my way back there again.