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liddytime
Pentaglot
Senior Member
United States
mainlymagyar.wordpre
Joined 3395 days ago

693 posts - 636 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Galician
Studies: Hungarian, Vietnamese, Modern Hebrew, Norwegian, Persian, Arabic (Written)

 
 Message 1 of 35
04 August 2010 at 8:58pm | IP Logged 
I’m finally going to do it.

After fifteen years and several forays into other foreign tongues I am finally going to learn Hungarian. This
may
not seem to be the most logical, advantageous or opportunistic language for a middle aged, American male
to
tackle in the Post-Cold War era. I do, however, have my own reasons for taking on the challenge.

My first exposure to Hungarian came when I was a Junior in college. I had just completed summer-school in
Spain and had met up with a high school friend to do the obligatory “blow through as much of Europe as you
can
in a month” tour. We had been racing through all the usual stops: France, Italy, Greece, Germany, Austria ,
when
we were approached by a fellow American traveller.
     
     “ You know, Hungary just opened up. You don’t even need a visa anymore. You guys should check it
out.”

Being among the first American tourists to venture into this formerly verboten land was an incredible
opportunity
that we just couldn’t pass up. I do digress that our first choice of cities was actually Prague, in what was still
Czechoslovakia. Unfortunately, every available mode of transportation into Prague was completely booked
up.
Apparently, the Rolling Stones were playing a huge concert there for the equivalent of $5 US and the influx
of
fans was just too overwhelming for Czechoslovakia’s transportation infrastructure.

The second logical city choice was Budapest. We booked ourselves on the first available train into a place
where
we had no contacts, no guidebooks and literally, no information.

The train pulled into Budapest’s central station around 10PM. It was drab, quiet and very dimly lit. The train
dropped us off and we both just stood there; silent, confused and wondering if we just made a huge mistake.

The problem was that neither of us spoke a word of Hungarian. Throughout the other European countries we
could pretty much get by with broken English and a smattering of words in the other countries’ languages.   
Not
so in Hungary. All of our pleas of
     “ English?!  &nbs p;English?!” ,

were greeted with blank stares and confused looks.

Through some wild gesticulations and the grace of God we were able to secure more than adequate lodging
for
the night. To this day, I’m still not sure how we worked that one out.   We had a fantastic time in Hungary.
We
ended up staying there longer than any other place on our trip. I did, however, have somewhat of an
epiphany
there. I vowed never again will I solely rely on my English in a non-English speaking country again.

Over the years language learning has become a fascination and, at times, an obsession for me. I have
become
fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. I have become quite competent in Turkish, Italian, Russian and Haitian
Creole.
I have dabbled ( just enough to get me in trouble) with German, Dutch, French, Greek, Norwegian, Albanian,
Hindi,    Persian/Farsi, Czech, Serbo-Croatian, Arabic and Swahili... yes, Swahili...

I have always been interested in Hungary and the Hungarian language.   I am Hungarian on my maternal
side
although I’m fairly sure my mother has never been to Hungary. I am certainly sure she doesn’t speak a
single
word of Hungarian.

On my long past trip to Hungary I can remember staring at signs and wondering,
     “What on earth does that say?!?”
The words were so foreign appearing and seemed to come from a different universe, never mind from a
European country.
     “One day I’ll learn what they mean”, I thought to myself.

The impetus for my newfound quest to learn Hungarian was set forth by my wife. On deciding where to go
for
our next vacation, we agreed on Hungary.
     “There you go, now you can learn Hungarian!!”

I certainly have my work cut out for me. Hungarian is considered one of the hardest languages in the world
for
an English-speaker to learn.

It is one of the few members of the Finno-Ugric language family. The other well-known members are Finnish
and Estonian although a Hungarian would not be able to pick out more than a word or two from either of
them.
The Hungarian language was brought into Hungary centuries ago via invading tribes from Central Asia.
Remarkably, through the centuries Hungarian has retained its Asian character and syntax and has remained
isolated from its neighboring Indo-European languages. Nearly all other European languages belong to the
Indo-
European language family. Thus, English is much more closely related to Hindi, Persian and Albanian than it
is to
Hungarian.

My plan of attack revolves around using both the Foreign Service Institute’s Hungarian Basic Course from the
1960’s and the Defense Language Institute’s Hungarian Basic Course from the 1980’s. Both of these
courses are
suitable for self-study with dozens of hours of audio support... which is good... Sadly, in my neighborhood
there
aren’t many Hungarian speakers! Eventually I will attempt to use some of the video chat programs to speak
with
real Hungarians.

Well, I suppose I should get started.....wish me luck!

Edited by liddytime on 01 May 2013 at 10:29pm

2 persons have voted this message useful



David_hu
Diglot
Newbie
Hungary
Joined 2513 days ago

6 posts - 5 votes
Speaks: Hungarian*, EnglishB2
Studies: German, Russian

 
 Message 2 of 35
04 August 2010 at 9:32pm | IP Logged 
Hello liddytime,

I am a native hungarian, if you need any help, don't hesitate to ask!

Good luck, I really hope you'll enjoy learning hungarian!



liddytime
Pentaglot
Senior Member
United States
mainlymagyar.wordpre
Joined 3395 days ago

693 posts - 636 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Galician
Studies: Hungarian, Vietnamese, Modern Hebrew, Norwegian, Persian, Arabic (Written)

 
 Message 3 of 35
04 August 2010 at 9:42pm | IP Logged 
David_hu wrote:
Hello liddytime,

I am a native hungarian, if you need any help, don't hesitate to ask!

Good luck, I really hope you'll enjoy learning hungarian!


Köszönöm szépen!!

Szeretem a magyar nyelv eddig!

eddig is "so far" right??



David_hu
Diglot
Newbie
Hungary
Joined 2513 days ago

6 posts - 5 votes
Speaks: Hungarian*, EnglishB2
Studies: German, Russian

 
 Message 4 of 35
04 August 2010 at 9:55pm | IP Logged 
liddytime wrote:


Köszönöm szépen!!

Szeretem a magyar nyelv eddig!

eddig is "so far" right??


It is correct. But you need to use the accusative case, so:
Szeretem a magyar nyelvet eddig! or
Eddig szeretem a magyar nyelvet!
1 person has voted this message useful



liddytime
Pentaglot
Senior Member
United States
mainlymagyar.wordpre
Joined 3395 days ago

693 posts - 636 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Galician
Studies: Hungarian, Vietnamese, Modern Hebrew, Norwegian, Persian, Arabic (Written)

 
 Message 5 of 35
05 August 2010 at 10:28pm | IP Logged 
David_hu wrote:
liddytime wrote:


Köszönöm szépen!!

Szeretem a magyar nyelv eddig!

eddig is "so far" right??


It is correct. But you need to use the accusative case, so:
Szeretem a magyar nyelvet eddig! or
Eddig szeretem a magyar nyelvet!


Ohhhhh , that tricky accusative case!!!   :-)



liddytime
Pentaglot
Senior Member
United States
mainlymagyar.wordpre
Joined 3395 days ago

693 posts - 636 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Galician
Studies: Hungarian, Vietnamese, Modern Hebrew, Norwegian, Persian, Arabic (Written)

 
 Message 6 of 35
07 August 2010 at 3:37am | IP Logged 
     I have made my first steps in my journey towards learning one of the most difficult languages in the world,
Hungarian. I have managed to make it through the first two units of the Foreign Service course and the first
three units of the Defense Language Institute course. The differences between them are interesting considering
one course was written for diplomats and the other for soldiers. The FSI course covers such useful phrases as:

This is the American Embassy = Ez az amerikai követség.

     Certainly useful information for any non-diplomat just arriving in Hungary. I’m sure the Embassy is on most
people’s “must see” list. But it is also clear the authors intend for the diplomats to get out and socialize bit with
phrases like:

At what time does the movie begin? = Mikor kezdődik a mozi?


      The DLI course clearly has a different scope in mind. The first three units cover vocabulary such as:
katona   - soldier
százados - captain (Army rank)
tiszt   - officer (commissioned)
civil - civilian
őrmester   - sergeant
őrvezető - private first class,

     Interestingly enough, in the first three units the words for: please, thank you and how are you? are not
taught. I suppose that’s the military for you. I’m sure by lesson six I will surely learn the words for tank,
grenade, bazooka and don’t ask, don’t tell.

    Hungarian is a very impressive sounding language. If you have never heard Hungarian my bet is you haven’t
ever heard anything quite like it. My first impression was that Hungarian sounded like Swedish played through a
tape player at double-speed backwards! There is a lot of “shussh-ing” and some peculiar consonant
combinations such as “gy” which sounds something like the letter “y” with a “d” sandwiched in the middle. The
thing that makes Hungarian so fun to pronounce is its 14, yes, that’s 14 vowels.

     Hungarian has its basic a,e,i,o,u vowels, but then if you put a grave accent on top, like á, é, etc.. it lengthens
the vowels considerably. There are also two kinds of umlauts. The regular sort like one would see in German (ö,ü
) and the lengthened umlaut (ő, ű ) . This is like an umlaut on steroids! The ö and ü are pronounced like a “irr”
sound but the ő and ű are prounounced like “EEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWRRRRRRRRRRRRRR”. It makes words
like:

őrvezető (EEWWwrvessetteewwr)- private first class,
repülőtér (REHPewleeewwwtehr) - airport
gyönyörű város (djyIIRRRn-yirreew VAAHroosshh) - beautiful city
Csak űlok és olvasok. (chok EWWlohk esh OHLvawshokk) - I’m just sitting here reading

    so much fun to say!

   Hungarian also utilizes a quality called vowel harmony in its word formation. Vowel harmony is defined by
Wikipedia as :
     “Vowel harmony is a type of long-distance assimilatory phonological process involving vowels that occurs in
some languages. In languages with vowel harmony, there are constraints on what vowels may be found near each
other.”

....say what??

Hungarian is an agglutinative language. That means that when constructing sentences, many particles pertaining
to prepositions and possession can be stuck onto the end of a word rather than using a different, separate word.
It can give such words as

     megszentségteleníthetetlens geskedéseitekért

which means “because of your continuous pretending to be indesecratable”. When constructing words such as
megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért ( which thankfully doesn’t need to be used that often ) the vowels
must agree or harmonize with each other. This quality is shared with the other Finno-Ugric as well as the Turkic
languages. For example one could not say kavehasben ( in the coffee house) but would rather say kavehasban.
One would not say kézba ( into the hand) but would rather say kézbe. This gives Hungarian a pleasant flow, an
almost musical quality, that is unique ( along with Finnish and Estonian) to the languages of Europe.

     I must admit that while Hungarian is quite different than English, it doesn’t seem extremely difficult...yet...
There is no gender, no declensions of numbers, a relatively straightforward pronunciation and what appears to be
a logical (though complex) grammar. I’m sure as I delve deeper into the language, I might not be quite as
confident!
2 persons have voted this message useful



David_hu
Diglot
Newbie
Hungary
Joined 2513 days ago

6 posts - 5 votes
Speaks: Hungarian*, EnglishB2
Studies: German, Russian

 
 Message 7 of 35
07 August 2010 at 12:10pm | IP Logged 
liddytime wrote:

megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért ( which thankfully doesn’t need to be used
that often )


Well, that might be a scary word, but you'll never have to use such long words. I mean,
I'm a native, but it takes me some time to understand what that 'word' means, and when
it comes to pronunciation... :D
That is a word, that shows what suffixes can do in the hungarian language. You can
attach more than one to a single word, but never that many :)
So don't worry about that...

1 person has voted this message useful



liddytime
Pentaglot
Senior Member
United States
mainlymagyar.wordpre
Joined 3395 days ago

693 posts - 636 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Galician
Studies: Hungarian, Vietnamese, Modern Hebrew, Norwegian, Persian, Arabic (Written)

 
 Message 8 of 35
14 August 2010 at 7:09pm | IP Logged 
STARTING TO SINK IN!!

             

        I figure I am now about three weeks into my Hungarian studies. I have made it through the fourth unit of
the FSI course and the fifth unit of the DLI course. DLI is still very
basic..

     “What is that?”
     “That is a house.”
     “Who is she?”
     “She is a soldier...”

However, I am sticking with it because the grammar explanations are so good in the DLI text. Some of my
recent favorite words from DLI are:
hadnagy - second lieutenant or ensign, which sounds like “hodge-nodge”. I personally couldn’t imagine going
up to a lieutenant and calling him a “hodge-nodge”. I also really
like katonanő, which literally translates as “soldier-woman”. It just sounds tough! I also really like főz (
fewwwwz), which means he/she cooks.

      FSI has taken me shopping for suits, dishes, glasses and, of course, cigarettes. You are also taught how to say
,

     “ It’s impossible to get the good ones in Pest so you have to go to Vienna to get the good stuff! I’ll grab you
some next week when I go!”
     “Pesten nehéz kapni. Mi Bécsben szoktunk venni. Jövő héten megyek Bécsbe. Akkor hozok maguknak is. Jo?”


     Of course these units are more practical as they were designed for the diplomats who needed to figure out
how to get their cigarettes in short order in their new country.
The vocabulary is much more intensive as well. I figure, I’m probably up to about 400-500 Hungarian words at
this point. I’m not sure how far the military terms will get me
though...

      I am discovering that one of the more difficult things with Hungarian is the total lack of cognates
with English.   For example, take the word “airport”.   In Spanish you
would have an aeropuerto, in French you would have an aeroport , in Italian you would have an aeroporto , in
German you would have a Flughafen (which you could probably
figure out) , but in Hungarian you have repülőtér!     Restaurant is pretty much some derivation of “restaurant”
in most languages but in Hungary you would need to look for an
étterem.    In Hungarian, computer is számítógép, pharmacy is gyógyszertár, bathroom is fürdőszoba (although
you could always use the international WC “ve-sze”), police is
rendőrség ... you get the picture...   So, there is no “faking it” in Hungarian as one could get away with in
Spanish, “push-la el buttòn, amigo!”

     I have had somewhat of a breakthough. I have been listening to some news snippets over the internet in
Hungarian over the last few weeks. In the beginning it just sounded
like unintelligible, gobbledigook. I took a week off but listened to some stories today. I could actually pick out
some words and tell what they were talking about!! I couldn’t
understand more than a few words here and there, but that was enough to at least get the gist of the story. Best
of all, it didn’t sound like gobbledigook anymore, it sounded
like Hungarian!


Edited by liddytime on 14 August 2010 at 7:12pm



1 person has voted this message useful



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