DiscoverMe is a series of posts where I would like to share with you some selected information about one language at time. This mostly will be a language that for some reason pays my attention, be it “bigger” or “smaller” one. Since I can’t speak them all now, there might be things which are won’t be true, however I will try to consult the whole content with the native speakers. Today I would like to talk about Hungarian, let’s go!
Hungarian language, in Hungarian: magyar nyelv is not Indo-European language. You will see what kind of differences it brings, but basically its family group is Uralic (not going into more details about classification). However, you may come across some theories that it’s maybe more like Turkish, or even similar to Japanese or Korean (about this topic I’m doing kind of an inofficial research).
The word nyelv (nyel) comes from Proto-Finno-Ugric language and it means "to swallow" (compare with Finnish: niellä). The word magyar (earlier: megyeri) appeared for the first time in the muslim records (IX-X century) and it comes from connecting two old Ugric words: madž (manč) and er (compare: ember - people, person). It comes in favour of the theory that there were two tribes that united and as a result of mixing two "languages", the name was created. Then, later on, the word magyar was the name of one of seven tribes that was united by Arpad.
As they were nomads for all that long time until they came to the Panonian Basin, let’s see, how, meantime, they waged wars with others:
As we can see, they travelled a lot, fought even more and then finally settled down.
They came from far, far away and we can easily see this in their language. I mean, first thing we notice is that this is an agglutinative language, just like Korean or Japanese. Hence, to be honest, I’m convienced to say this is more of Asian linguistic worldview. Proves? Not so developed as in Korean and Japanese, but still exists: honorific (words showing respect to the person we are speaking to). So for example, our younger brother we call – in Hungarian öcs, in Korean: 오빠/형 (in Korean it depends also on your sex).
Something that favours language laziness is vowel harmony. This is, putting such endings to the words so that they can be pronunced in a way that doesn’t require many tongue/mouth moves. Let’s see. For Hungarians saying “barátem” instead of “barátom” is like saying in English “an brother”. It just doesn’t sound well. I hope you understand.
Now, my favourite topic – loan words! Hungarian, conditioned by history, is an unique language. Omitting the unknown/uncertain origin (30%), there are a lot Uralic and Slavic words (simply because of Great Moravia), then German and Turkish (because of many years of Turks “visits” in Hungary). Now, why am I saying this?
That might sound funny, but to learn Hungarian faster and easier, you should also know what ethymology have the words you’re learning. This is too complex to explain it somebody who’s not learning Hungarian, but just in case you want to know about it, let me know!
As I am Pole, it’s not really hard to me to pronunce something like “krk” for example. Well, the problem is that Hungarians seem to not be able to decide which consonants they can pronunce when standing together and which they can’t. This is the part of the language that makes learning harder.
As for the end, I’d also like to stress out how important the word order is in Hungarian. While in English you have to change the intonation or put more stress onto the words you want to be more “visible”, in Hungarian you just put them into one particular order. This is hard for me and I think for many of you learning this language, but why not to challenge yourself and master it?
There are surely more things I would like to talk about, but those of you who are learning this language will know what I am talking about and if you are not, and you’re still interested, you’re welcome to ask me in the comments!