The Hungarian Language

Hungarian (Magyar) bears no relation at all to the Slavic and Germanic tongues spoken in neighbouring countries, and finds its closest cousins in the national languages of faraway Finland and Estonia, and most likely Mars. The alphabet contains such logical innovations as eight variations on the letters O and U, all of which are unpronounceable, as well as compound letters like “Dzs”, which sounds like the English letter J (Jennifer = Dzsennifer!). With some patience, though, you’ll be fine speaking English – especially amongst younger Hungarians.

Hauling out the phrase books for anything beyond everyday pleasantries isn’t for the faint of heart: to the Magyar ear, even slightly mispronounced Hungarian sounds like gibberish. Should you wish to give this bizarre Finno-Ugric-Martian language a whirl, here are the essentials. Just remember that the emphasis is always placed on the first syllable of every word.

English                                    Hungarian                          Pronounced like 
Good day                             Jó napot kivánok               YO NA-pot KEE-van-ock

Hello (informal)                         Szia                                      SEE-ya

Bye-bye                                       Hello                                    HE-llo

Yes                                              Igen                                      EE-gen

My name is Jane                     Jane vagyok                      JANE VOH-dyock

One glass of wine,                  Egy pohár bort,                  EDGE POH-haar BORT,
please                                       kérek szépen                     KAY-reck SAY-pen

I love you                                   Szeretlek                           SEH-ret-leck

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