Hungarian language

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Hungarian language is an agglutinating Turanian language like for example Sumerian. Agglutination means, that the language builds the relation of the words by adding proper endings (or prefixes). Hungarian is a very stable language with little difference in the language spoken on different areas, which is considered as the sign of maturity.

Substantives

For example:

English Hungarian
boy fiú
to the boy fiúhoz
from the boy fiútól
to the boys fiúkhoz
house ház
to the house of the boys fiúk házához
to the houses of the boys fiúk házaihoz
whose cap? kinek a sapkája?
the cap of the boy a fiúé
to the cap of the boy a fiúéhoz

As you can see, Hungarian can express relation in a shorter form, than non-agglutinating languages.

In Hungarian therefore spell checking is complicated, however it finds 80% of the errors, that in non agglutinating languages only a grammar checker will find.

Cases

Hungarian does not use cases (similar to English). Hungarian expresses relations by using endings, and English expresses relations by using prefixes (to, from, of, at, etc...) Sometimes in the literature foreign linguists refer to cases in Hungarian, and they speak about 20 and more cases. This is (in my opinion) rather confusing than helpful, when you try to learn and understand Hungarian. In Hungary itself grammar does not use cases for substantives, it speaks about endings.("rag"=ending and "képzõ"= modifier, for example the "k" ending of plural)

English Hungarian
boy fiú
I see the boy látom a fiút
hair of the boy fiú haja (owner always precedes propriety, like boy's hair, no exceptions!)
I go to the boy megyek a fiúhoz
I played with the boy Játszottam a fiúval

Plural

Plural is in Hungarian always denoted by the consonant k, no exceptions. For the ease of pronounciation, an additional wovel can be necessary.

English Hungarian
boy fiú
boys fiúk
girl lány
girls lányok
needle
needles tûk
case tok (case of the glasses, for example)
cases tokok

Plural usage

Hungarian is reserved in the use of plural forms. If the text itself shows, that there is more than one substantive, no plural is used. Example:

English Hungarian
There are five boys there Ott öt fiú van.
There are boys there Ott fiúk vannak.

Words

Hungarian words tend to be very short (if often used), examples:

English Hungarian
grass
stone

Word families, compound words

Hungarian works with word families and compound words. The basic word is a very short one, and the derivatives are built around of the base word. Examples:

English Hungarian
grass
A man who knows grasses very well füvész
lawnmower fűnyírógép

Verbs

Hungarian can express repeated actions or actions happening only once by endings. For example:

English Hungarian
write ír
repeatedly writes irogat
squeeze csavar
squeezes something once csavarint

Usage of the verb "is" (copula)

Hungarian is reserved in the usage of the verb "is". Example:

English Hungarian
There is a table here Itt egy asztal.
It is brown Barna
Who is there? Ki van ott?

Negation

Negation of an action is expressed by a "nem" (=no) before the negated verb, substantiv or adjektiv. Example:

English Hungarian
I will write a letter Levelet fogok írni.
I won't write a letter Nem fogok levelet írni
I like him. Szeretem.
I don't like him. Nem szeretem.
He is not nice Nem kedves
This is not a house. Ez nem ház.

Conjugation with and without object

All verbs must be conjugated differently, dependent on having a known object for the action or not. Example:

English Hungarian
I write the letter to my mother Írom a levelet anyámnak.
I am writing Írok.
I am writing a letter Levelet írok.

Articles

In Hungarian there are two forms of the definite article: a (before consonant) and az (before vocal). Hungarian uses articles much more sparely than germanic languages. Indefinite article (egy) is only used, if we want to stress, that the substantive is indefinite. For example:

English Hungarian
This is the table Ez asztal
This is the table, i saw yesterday Ezt az asztalt láttam tegnap
The table is old Az asztal régi
This is a table Ez asztal
Give me a pencil Adj egy ceruzát

Adjectives

Adjectives can be used in single or in plural form. Example:

English Hungarian
The girls are beautiful A lányok szépek
The beautiful girls were not there A szép lányok nem voltak ott

Vocal harmony

Endings must follow the rules of vocal harmony. Vocals eiöüőű are considered as high vocals, while aouóú as deep vocals. For words with deep last vocal deep endings must be used, for words with high last vocal high endings. Vocal harmony is used for all types of words (substantives, verbs, adjectives). This is required simply for aesthetical reasons. Example:

English Hungarian Ending
girl lány -
girls lányok s ok
grass -
grasses füvek es vek
watch néz -
watched ed ett
hold fog -
holded fogott ed ott

Pronounciation

Hungarian pronounciation is simple, consistent and straightforward, to program it is very simple:

  • words are spoken exactly as written, each vocal and consonant is spoken on the same way, no matter of the position in the word.
  • always the first syllable is stressed, no exceptions

Finno-Ugric

Finno-Ugric is a political category, established by people with little knowledge of languages. It's aim is to isolate Hungarian from its real and complete family, which is much larger, than this artificial group suggests. Since there is no Finno-Ugric ground language, and the so called Finno-Ugric people are of very different races (nordic, Middle European and mongolic), this category is rather a category of fantasy.

Sir John Bowring

Below some texts from an English linguist, Sir John Bowring, who wrote those sentences around 1830:

The Hungarian language goes far back. It developed in a very particular manner and its structure reaches back to times, when most of the now spoken European languages did not even exist. It is a language which developed steadily and firmly in itself, and in which there is logic and mathematics with the adaptability and malleability of strength and chords. The Englishmen should be proud that his language indicates an epic of human history. One can show forth its origin; and alien layers can be distinguished in it, which gathered together during the contacts with different nations. Whereas the Hungarian language is like a rubble-stone; consisting of only one piece, on which the storms of time left not a scratch. It's not a calendar that adjusts to the changes of the ages. It needs no one, it doesn't borrow, does no buckstering, and doesn't give or take from anyone. This language is the oldest and most glorious monument of a national sovereignty and a mental independence. What scholars cannot solve, they ignore. In philosophy it's the same way as archeology. The floors of the old Egyptian temples, which were made out of only one rock, can't be explained. No one knows where they came from, or from which mountain the wonderous mass was taken. How they were transported and lifted to the top of the temples. The genuineness of the Hungarian language is a phenomenon much more wonderous than this. He who solves it shall be analyzing the Divine secret; in fact the first thesis of this secret: “In the beginning there was Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." ( http://www.mcmlove.nl/english/articles/hungarian/bowring.htm)3

"The Magyar language stands afar off and alone. The study of other tongues will be found of exceedingly little use towards its right understanding. It is moulded in a form essentially its own, and its construction and composition may be safely referred to an epoch when most of the living tongues of Europe either had no existence, or no influence on the Hungarian region." (Bowring 1830. Preface, p. vi)

Similar languages

References

Literature

  • Hungarian grammar
  • Collinder, Björn: Fenno-Ugric Vocabulary. An Etymological Dictionary of the Uralic Languages. Uppsala, 1955.