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Hungarian OR Finnish - please help!

 Language Learning Forum : Specific Languages Post Reply
64 messages over 8 pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Next >>
Bilingual Pentaglot
United States
Joined 3839 days ago

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Speaks: English*, Spanish*, French, Portuguese, German
Studies: Russian

 Message 1 of 64
19 December 2007 at 11:53pm | IP Logged 
I can hardly believe that this has not already been asked (I did searches)

Up till now, I relied on the top 10 world languages list. But instead of progressing to Japanese, I had a great idea:

I read that if I learn Hungarian or Finnish, then I would be a HERO. :) Besides, the latin alphabet is so welcoming! But WHICH ONE? There are no discussions on this site. Each time I read about the other one, I can't decide. Here are my findings so far:

Finnish Pros:
  • 5M speakers + 1M Estonian

  • Tolkein described it as discovering a delightful wine cellar full of untasted wines, and based Quenya on it.

  • This site says that it is THE HARDEST European language. (that's cool)

  • Closer to Proto-Uralic (as if that matters)

  • sounds juvenile with its -sk sounds

Hungarian Pros:
  • 14M speakers

  • This one sounds more like Quenya to me (from youtube) because it is softer.

  • This site made Hungarian verbs sound like they are impossibler than Finnish and its 4 tenses. And Hungarian has more cases?

  • Has more people in online games typing it, and they are so cool.

  • Would patch a geographical hole in Europe for me.

  • Sounds darker and sexier?

This is very important for me because each one will sap away 2 years of my life, and this is not transferable (they are really too distant).
Usefulness does not matter, I'm only in it for the money [difficult language badge].

Please correct this and please tell me some more!
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Senior Member
Joined 4810 days ago

4232 posts - 4077 votes 
20 sounds
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Polish, Slovak, Uzbek, Turkish, Korean, Finnish

 Message 2 of 64
20 December 2007 at 6:06am | IP Logged 
I think that both are comparably hard if you have an Indo-European background. Apart from the initial charge that you get from learning either of these languages, do you believe that you could sustain a solid effort for the next two years devoted to either of these languages? Why do you want to learn either of these languages? There are plenty of "difficult" languages out there, and learning for example, Navaho could also satisfy your desire to learn a "difficult" language.

By the way, Hungarian verbs are just another way of treating actions and "make sense" in their own way. In addition, Finnish has "consonant gradation" (e.g. -kk- > -k-) which means that consonants in a word change depending on its case. Sometimes the changes aren't predictable. The Finnish profile here didn't mention consonant gradation.

Senior Member
Russian Federation
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Speaks: Russian*, English, FinnishC1, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
Studies: Danish, Romanian, Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Croatian, Catalan, Czech, Galician, Dutch, Swedish

 Message 3 of 64
20 December 2007 at 11:27am | IP Logged 
I think I've read somewhere that Hungarian orphography isn't phonetic.
And it's pretty rare that the changes caused by consonant gradation in Finnish aren't predictable. ;P

Although I'm not sure it all matters that much. Better base your choice on the culture: if you like it, it will motivate you greatly. I could recommend some Finnish music if you're interested, just say what genres you prefer ;)

Senior Member
United States
Joined 3841 days ago

161 posts - 5 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: Japanese

 Message 4 of 64
20 December 2007 at 12:03pm | IP Logged 
Chinese and Japanese are both pretty tough, too, and are spoken by orders of magnitude more people than Finnish and Hungarian combined. Usefulness aside, that means you'll have more opportunities to show off how smart you are, since you're more likely to encounter someone who actually speaks the language.


Joined 3944 days ago

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Speaks: English*, Spanish

 Message 5 of 64
20 December 2007 at 7:08pm | IP Logged 
Why not go for glory and study Basque?


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Bilingual Pentaglot
United States
Joined 3839 days ago

6 posts - 1 votes
Speaks: English*, Spanish*, French, Portuguese, German
Studies: Russian

 Message 6 of 64
20 December 2007 at 10:16pm | IP Logged 
Hello All, thanks for the quick replies! I apologize for the overambitious, almost infantile first post.
I have a lot of admiration for Basque culture too, alan. I did a school project on them and tried to make people sympathetic for Basque nationalism. However, I always have to explain to North Americans what Basque is. Finnish on the other hand, has been more widely touted by tourists and emigrants' friends as a language that nobody can learn. At least I think. Thoughts?

Chung I read your Hungarian review and didn't think that that same person would reply to my post! I also heard your hungarian sound, and it is very useful. I found it not rushed like the native videos, which don't have captions anyway.
A story, I ran into a Hungarian online, and instead of saying "hey" i said just one word "nemetorszag". Then he said "WOW, how do you know that??? Can you say any other words?" "Magyarorszag" "omg why do you know these things" and then i was sad that that was all I knew and it was nominative.

Serpent thanks for encouraging that Finnish isn't utterly irregular. I guess Finnish is more phonetic but that takes its toll on your tongue muscle. How about pop genre? They usually sing clearest.

I estimate that I can retain the interest for one or two years. You see, I readed (sic) German learners every night because I couldn't hold back the interest, and that was because I learned 3 new cases. The hardest part now will be to buy comparable finno-ugric books.

Bilingual Pentaglot
United States
Joined 3839 days ago

6 posts - 1 votes
Speaks: English*, Spanish*, French, Portuguese, German
Studies: Russian

 Message 7 of 64
20 December 2007 at 10:33pm | IP Logged 
Oh btw Katherine, I're not just going to dump Japanese. I enjoy anime and I have some friends who are trying to sway me to Jap. They told me about wa and ga. But then I will just know what they know and it's not such a discovery.
(Yes ditching Mandarin. Holy cow 4000 letters that I'd neglectingly forget unless I practice for my whole western life)

Senior Member
United States
Joined 3943 days ago

408 posts - 15 votes
Speaks: Portuguese, English*
Studies: Japanese

 Message 8 of 64
20 December 2007 at 10:52pm | IP Logged 
foram wrote:
  • This site says that it is THE HARDEST European language. (that's cool)

  • Hah! Even the easiest Circassian language easily eclipses Finnish in that regard.

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