Hungarian Language

Hungarian Language – Understanding The Basics

On first glance of a Hungarian text, you might be tempted to just try your luck with speaking English! It does look complex and in truth, it isn’t the easiest language to learn but grasping a few basic Hungarian words can make your trip to Hungary far more enjoyable and involved

Astonishingly, there are around 15 million speakers of the Magyar language – which spreads into parts of Romania, Slovakia, the Ukraine and Serbia as well as its homeland.

Before you leave, equip yourself with a basic guide to the language so that you can use it in emergencies or in casual situations.

What Makes Hungarian Different From Other Languages?

First, Hungarians are very proud of their language – which is very different from other European languages. The Hungarian language makes no grammatical distinction between masculine and feminine and they don’t have a precise equivalent for the English phrase ‘to have’, much like other non Indo European languages.

The majority of languages spoken in Europe belong to the family of Indo-European languages. Hungarian, along with Finnish, Estonian, Turkish and Basque are the only exceptions.

During the 19th century, European countries began to make language bonds and connections – Hungary didn’t seem to fit in anywhere. The closest relatives in terms of language were Finnish, Estonian and Lappish – but these were still considered distant cousins.

Another difference that we can observe in this language is how words and sentences are structured. A word can become incredibly long as they add various endings to it – they would see it as functional and common sense, but for someone who has no knowledge of Hungarian, it could become very confusing.

Where Does The Hungarian Language Originate From?

There is still a lot of mystery that shrouds the origins of the Hungarian language. Many still believe that it belongs to the Uralic family of language and specifically, to the Ugric branch.

This belief lies in the evidence of many words having similarities to the origins of Finno-Ugric. Some will argue that it has roots in Turkic languages which like Finnish and Hungarian, use multiple endings and suffixes to words to express their meaning.

Turkish languages do have some relation to Finno-Ugric. The debate still goes on!

Magyar Origins is a book that offers a reasonable hypothesis that Hungarian is related to Sanskrit, working out a proposed linguistic law that affected how Sanskrit words were absorbed into Hungarian.

Why Should You Learn Some Basic Hungarian Words?

Although in Budapest, those working in your hotel and in restaurants will undoubtedly speak a good level of English – it is polite to offer them at least an attempt to speak their language.

Hungarians will find you amazing if you just give it a try – as they understand how difficult it can be for non-natives.

The basics of the Magyar Language include learning how to say ‘yes’ (igen ’ ee-ghen’) and ‘no’ (nem/’ nehm’), ‘please’ (kérem /’kay-rehm’) and ‘thank you’ (köszönöm / ’kuh-suh-nuhm’), ‘hello’ (szia / ’see ya’) and ‘goodbye’ (viszlát / ’veeslat’).

Cheers! – Egészségedre! (E-gayss-shay-gehd-rh!)

Good Morning! – Jó reggelt! (Yo-rehg-gehlt!)

Good afternoon – Jó napot! (Yo-nah-poht!)

Good evening – Jó estét! (Yo-esh-tate!)

Good night – Jó éjszakát! (Yo- ay-sah-kat!)

Try to listen to some audio so that you get the pronunciation right and just keep practicing out loud – you will soon get it! Besides, you never know when you might explore other areas of Hungary where English is not well-understood or spoken.

Download and print our PDF Basic Guide of Hungarian Words and Phrases for Tourists for useful words and expressions.

This language mini guide has been created to provide you with a useful list of words and expressions that can be can handy during your trip to Hungary. It can help you understand the language a little and to use it during your stay in Budapest.

Below we have made a selection of Hungarian phrasebooks in case you would like to learn more expressions for your trip to Budapest.

If you have no idea of how the Hungarian language sounds like, below you will find a video with Hungarian daily expressions for you to get familiar with the sound of the language.

Have a nice time!

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