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0 to conversational Hungarian in 3 months

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irishpolyglot
Nonaglot
Senior Member
Ireland
fluentin3months
Joined 2955 days ago

285 posts - 623 votes 
Speaks: Irish, English*, French, Esperanto, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Sign Language
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 1 of 52
15 July 2010 at 9:09pm | IP Logged 
It's time for my next 3-month endeavour :)

You will see a thread in the archives called "High school German to C2 in 3 months" and it was mostly a success - so I am going to be even more ambitious this time and aiming for conversational Hungarian in just 3 months, STARTING TODAY!

I was able to get by in Thai and understand the writing system quite well earlier this year, but this will be my first true attempt at aiming for proper spontaneous communication in a non-Indo-European language.

A big introduction with a silly picture is on my blog (link in my details on the left), but otherwise I will post here with non-blog updates and other details as I did the previous thread.

My plan is as follows:
July 15 - July 31: Study Hungarian part time.
I'm still enjoying Berlin while I can, and doing some things with my German, like hopefully making a video soon! So Hungarian will get about an hour or two a day for the next two weeks. Not ideal, but it will give me a head start where I usually would start learning on arrival.
August 1/2: Arrive in Budapest, get SIM card, and look for apartment. I will be with a (French speaking) friend for this time so it's unlikely I'll get much practise.
August 3 - August 9: Spend week in Pécs just south of Budapest with some Esperanto speakers. The majority of them will be Hungarian, so this will allow me to adjust culturally without having a language barrier just for that week and make some friends who live in Budapest. Living in the country and seeing the language everywhere will get me partially immersed. I usually don't do this, but I want to see if "easing myself in" over a few weeks has any benefits at all. There are also some practical things to consider before abandoning other languages, like I need to understand how to eat well as a vegetarian in Hungary.
August 9 - October 14: Full immersion. Nearly all of my socialising will be in Hungarian, even from the first day where I will only have had about 3 weeks to prepare. I will not be speaking any English with Hungarians (or Esperanto with those friends I'll have made during the first week). I will practise and maintain my other languages by hosting Couchsurfers and in international parties etc., but the focus will be to speak in Hungarian.

At the end of my time I hope to be at conversation level. Not "fluent", but speaking confidently and understanding as much as possible said to me in social situations. I'll first attempt to converse with people who will likely need to talk slowly to me, and then hopefully be able to understand someone talking normal speed or conversing with someone else. But the priority will always be to maintain non-awkward conversations and focus on **communication** rather than producing flawless Hungarian.

If any of you have any experience with Hungarian, or advice for me for how to reach my target better. Please do share :)

Looking forward to this! :D
2 persons have voted this message useful



Arekkusu
Hexaglot
Senior Member
Canada
bit.ly/qc_10_lec
Joined 2703 days ago

3971 posts - 3828 votes 
Speaks: English, French*, GermanC1, Spanish, Japanese, Esperanto
Studies: Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Estonian

 
 Message 2 of 52
15 July 2010 at 9:32pm | IP Logged 
Sounds like an awesome challenge! I'm jealous and I wish I could spend several months in a country to do that myself!

Keeps us updated as you progress though the challenge!
1 person has voted this message useful



Chung
Diglot
Senior Member
Joined 4478 days ago

4232 posts - 4073 votes 
20 sounds
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Polish, Slovak, Uzbek, Turkish, Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 3 of 52
15 July 2010 at 11:06pm | IP Logged 
Since you'll be doing some couchsurfing, go all over Hungary when possible (or even to southern Slovakia or Transylvania where Hungarians still live) and stay with hosts who are much more comfortable using Hungarian than anything else. I did this many years ago by staying for a week on a farm owned by a couple of older folks. Our only common language was Hungarian and I had no choice but to draw on all of my accumulated knowledge in Hungarian since they spoke only a little German otherwise. It was pointless to communicate in anything else. By the end of that week I was really surprised at how well my Hungarian held up and how much came back.

Sok sikert!
1 person has voted this message useful



liddytime
Pentaglot
Senior Member
United States
mainlymagyar.wordpre
Joined 3551 days ago

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Speaks: English*, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Galician
Studies: Hungarian, Vietnamese, Modern Hebrew, Norwegian, Persian, Arabic (Written)

 
 Message 4 of 52
16 July 2010 at 12:47am | IP Logged 
irishpolyglot wrote:
It's time for my next 3-month endeavour :)

You will see a thread in the archives called "High school German to C2 in 3 months" and it was mostly a success
- so I am going to be even more ambitious this time and aiming for conversational Hungarian in just 3
months, STARTING TODAY!

I was able to get by in Thai and understand the writing system quite well earlier this year, but this will be my first
true attempt at aiming for proper spontaneous communication in a non-Indo-European language.

A big introduction with a silly picture is on my blog (link in my details on the left), but otherwise I will post here
with non-blog updates and other details as I did the previous thread.
Looking forward to this! :D


Good Luck, Benny!!

I am sooo jealous. I am part Hungarian and have always wanted to speak more than just a smattering of
Hungarian.   I don't think you will find it as difficult as people try to scare you into believing. Its syntax is very
regular and predictable...just a little more complex than most European languages.

I look forward to following your progress!



irishpolyglot
Nonaglot
Senior Member
Ireland
fluentin3months
Joined 2955 days ago

285 posts - 623 votes 
Speaks: Irish, English*, French, Esperanto, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Sign Language
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 5 of 52
22 July 2010 at 10:00pm | IP Logged 
@liddytime
You're right! I will write a summary now of my first impressions and it isn't that bad! :)

@Chung
Thanks! Although, I really prefer cities - I have ways of convincing locals (who may speak English) to maintain the local language with me and I'm confident these methods will work in Budapest :)
I will however try to travel at some stage to get to know other parts of the country. I'm actually spending all of my first week in Pécs!

@Arekkusu
Will do!



Chung
Diglot
Senior Member
Joined 4478 days ago

4232 posts - 4073 votes 
20 sounds
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Polish, Slovak, Uzbek, Turkish, Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 6 of 52
22 July 2010 at 10:29pm | IP Logged 
You'll probably like Pécs as it's a nice larger city (by Hungarian standards) with stuff to do. Pécs is also in one of Hungary's wine-regions. The wine from nearby Szekszárd and Villány is pretty good, and if you can, try to visit a vineyard or take part in a wine-festival.



irishpolyglot
Nonaglot
Senior Member
Ireland
fluentin3months
Joined 2955 days ago

285 posts - 623 votes 
Speaks: Irish, English*, French, Esperanto, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Sign Language
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 7 of 52
22 July 2010 at 10:38pm | IP Logged 
*********
FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF HUNGARIAN
*********

About a week into the challenge, I've had my chance to review the grammar books (not intensively mind you, since this is still very much part time until I am in Hungary), and I have a few impressions of the language I'd like to share!

The grammar seems NOT THAT BAD!
  1. The "twenty" cases are not as complex as you would think. As far as I can see, they are simply "prepositions" attached to words as suffixes. The changes are way less complicated than in Slavic/Germanic languages from my experience. It's almost always the same (with exceptions of course) for each case. I find it unnecessarily complicated that my book labels these cases. Knowing what "dative" is in German for example helps with definite article / adjective ending etc., but in Hungarian Dative is just the suffix for to/for and "terminative" is up to / until (where it "terminates") and "inessive" is what it is "in". Come on, it's just prepositions :)
  2. The logic of verb conjugation is very Indo-European with the usual 6 expected personal conjugations and very consistent rules for other tenses
  3. There are NO GENDERS. This is a huge plus since that ads yet another dimension to cases in many languages
  4. No (other than "exceptions") irregular plurals! If you know how it ends in that "case" then it doesn't matter what the root is other than vowel agreement (see below).


One thing that does seem like I will need to do lots of mental gymnastics in, as far as grammar is concerned, is the definite vs indefinite conjugations. These exist for ALL tenses.

Their use is very logical on the plus side (although I can see how a beginner learner with a weak idea of what definite & indefinite are would have huge headaches here: I've been forced to understand this concept through years of language learning), but it's just different to what I am used to. A different conjugation for if the noun is "a" or "the" (or other variants of def/indef) is an extra step to think about and an extra group of conjugations to learn.

PRONUNCIATION:
Good news: It's very phonetic! The stress is always on the first syllable (stress position can be... stressful in some languages! :P ) and the use of the Latinised alphabet will make it easy enough to read.

Work needed: The different phonetic rules will take some getting used to are "gy" (actually pronounced more like "dy"), and s ("sh") and sz ("s"), which is the reverse of Polish. Some consonants change from voiced to unvoiced and vice versa (p to b for example) if grouped with other consonants and I can see this causing problems.

VOCABULARY: This will likely be the bulk of my work, since it has (due to being in a completely different language family) a very different set of vocabulary to get used to. However:
  • There ARE familiar loan words . If I can find a list I will learn this first to give me a head start
  • The language builds words and meanings with roots + suffixes. Thanks to Esperanto I have gotten used to how logical and easy this is, so this will help me express myself quicker once I have a good set of suffixes and roots to extrapolate meanings of "new" words
  • Although some words seem intimidatingly long, the actual root or suffix doesn't seem to go beyond two syllables (each). Shorter segments makes them easier to learn


INTERESTING SIMILARITIES TO OTHER LANGUAGES:
IRISH: In Irish we have a rule called slender with slender, broad with broad for vowels. Hungarian has something which reminds me quite a lot of this: the vowel agreements between suffixes & roots (for conjugations and "cases" etc.) Although the rules are different, the concept itself is not that new to me, so I'll have this edge. :) This seems to be the main "complication" to variations in suffixes and verb conjugations, but it's basically just changing an "a" to an "e" for example.
Hungarian also has no verb for "to have", but neither does Irish. Using a different way of phrasing for that is fine.
ESPERANTO: I know a lot of people on this forum appreciate grammar, but I prefer it in small doses. Esperanto introduced me to what accusative means in a very straightforward way that never made sense to me when learning German in school. This will also help even more in Hungarian since it seems to apply accusative endings way more consistently than German would.
Also, as I said, word formation seems very logical, and Esperanto taught me how to appreciate this more than inconsistent languages have.

Overall, I don't see ANYTHING so far that will cause me huge problems or that is drastically harder than other languages. Hard work will be involved, but as long as I keep a positive attitude and continue to look at the language in a "glass is half full" mentality as described here, then I am confident I can learn things quicker :)

I have yet to really listen to the language, other than a quick few minutes of streamed radio, so I'll try to listen to the basic conversations included in the audio courses I have, and perhaps meet up with a native briefly.

I just have one week before I have to go to Hungary, so now that I have a vague overall view of the language (I'm sure there are tonnes of holes!) I can start learning some phrases (as well as the structure of their meaning to help with future expansion) in preparation for basic communication :)
5 persons have voted this message useful



yearlyglot
Triglot
Newbie
United States
yearlyglot.com/Registered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 2668 days ago

2 posts - 0 votes
Speaks: English*, Spanish, Russian
Studies: German, Italian, Lithuanian

 
 Message 8 of 52
22 July 2010 at 11:07pm | IP Logged 
Wow, man. Based on that description it sounds a lot easier than the reputation people generally give it. Very
interesting.



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