Hungarian language

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Hungarian
magyar
Native toHungary and areas of Austria, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine
Native speakers
14–15 million (2005)[1]
Uralic
Latin (Hungarian alphabet)
Hungarian Braille
Official status
Official language in
 Hungary
 European Union Slovakia (regional language), Slovenia (regional language), Serbia (regional language), Austria (regional language), some official rights in Romania, Ukraine and Croatia
Recognised minority
language in
Regulated byResearch Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Language codes
ISO 639-1hu
ISO 639-2hun
ISO 639-3Either:
hun – Modern Hungarian
ohu – Old Hungarian
ohu Old Hungarian
Dist of hu lang europe.svg
Regions of the Carpathian Basin where the Hungarian language is spoken

Hungarian is a Finno-Ugric language, which is a member of the Uralic language family. The Hungarian name for the language is Magyar.

The Finno-Ugric languages also include Finnish, Estonian, Lappic (Sámi) and some other languages spoken in Russia: Khanty and Mansi are the most closely related to Hungarian. The Hungarian name for the language is Magyar.

Although Hungarian is not an Indo-European language, unlike most other European languages, its vocabulary has many words from Slavic and Turkic languages and also from German.

Speakers and dialects[change | change source]

Hungarian is spoken by approximately 13 million people. Most of them live in Hungary (around 10 million) and Romania (around 1.5 million), but there are also speakers in Slovakia, the northern part of Serbia (Vojvodina), Ukraine and other countries. Hungarian is the official language of Hungary and one of the official languages of the European Union (EU). It is also an official language of the Autonomous Republic of Vojvodina (Serbia) and of some places in the Republic of Slovenia.

Hungarian has several dialects, but people can easily understand one another. The Csángó dialect in Romania, however, is archaic and has changed less than the other dialects.

Hungarian literary language is based on the Northeastern dialect.

Although Hungarian is not an Indo-European language, its vocabulary has many words from Slavic and Turkic languages and also from German.

Grammar[change | change source]

Hungarian grammar is very different from that of Indo-European languages like English.

Hungarian has no grammatical gender. For example, there are no separate words for "he" and "she" but there is one pronoun (ő). Instead of prepositions, (like "from" or "with"), Hungarian uses suffixes (particles at the end of main words). For example, "from Budapest" becomes Budapestről, and "with Alexandra" becomes Alexandrával.

Another Hungarian feature is vowel harmony: suffixes change according to (harmonise with) the vowel of the main word. If they have a in the word, the suffix normally has a as well (fa "tree" and fával "with a tree"), and if they have e, the suffix will change to have e as well' (teve "camel" and tevével "with a camel").

Hungarian words have the accent the first syllable.

Writing[change | change source]

The Hungarian alphabet is based on the Latin alphabet. Some letters have diacritics (dots or commas above them) and so Hungarian has 44 letters, more than the 26 of English.

Since Hungarian writing is mostly phonetic, it is easy to write words by knowing their pronunciation.

History[change | change source]

The earliest known written Hungarian words are to be found in a Latin document, the Foundation Charter of the Abbey of Tihany (1054). The Funeral Oration and Prayer (1192-95) and the Old Hungarian Lament of Mary (13th century) are the earliest known continuous Hungarian texts.

In the 16th century, the first printed Hungarian texts were published. The modern literary language appeared in the 18th and the 19th centuries.

Hungarian replaced Latin as the official language of Hungary between 1844 and 1849 and then again in 1867.

References[change | change source]

  1. Fenyvesi, Anna (2005), Hungarian Language Contact Outside Hungary, Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing, p. 11.

Other websites[change | change source]