Hungarian

My podcast guest this week is Hungarian and she shares some interesting things about her native language. She speaks five languages on a daily basis and touches on all five in our conversation.

Here is the episode (in English) for those interested: Login - LingQ

Are any of you Hungarian speakers or learners? Feel free to share your experience with Hungarian in this thread!

I think Hungarian is a lot easier than it’s made out to be. For one thing, it has 18 cases but these cases are considerably easier than those of most other languages. They don’t even act like true cases, the’re more like fused postpositions. Adjectives don’t agree with the case of the noun they’re modifying, the root words themselves don’t change when declining for case and there are no declensions.

Hungarian cases work much like English prepositions. Really, what is so hard about saying “I live England-in” rather than “I live in England”? The only difference is the placement of the adposition–in English they are prepositions and in Hungarian they are fused postpositions. Very easy.

In contrast, in my native language Finnish there are several ways a root-word can change based on how the word ends (consonant gradation). You can’t just add a case suffix onto a word, you have to modify the root itself. These modifications follow rules and there are very few if any exceptions, but they’re a pain in the ass to learn. And don’t get me started on Latin and Russian. The same case can have multiple different suffixes based on the gender of a word or its declension. It’s a complete mess. And in all these languages, you have to decline not only the noun itself but all of its adjectives as well. Again, Hungarian cases are easy; they work much like English prepositions do.

Hungarians are really doing a disservice to themselves and potential learners when they claim that Hungarian is the most difficult language in the world. It’s not, by any means.

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As I learned in this conversation with Zsuzsa, Hungarian and Finnish are (distantly) related. Do you think that makes Hungarian easier for a Finnish speaker to learn than for speakers of other languages?

Yes, I think so. Agglutinative languages use a lot of affixes or enclitics to convey meaning where languages like English would use world order, intonation or separate words. My favourite of these in Finnish is the -han enclitic, which has various nuanced meanings, such as:

1.) A particle to express that the speaker had some (more or less) certain view on something but is surprised after having got to know the truth about it.

2.) A particle to express that the speaker had some (more or less) certain view on something but is surprised at the controversial view expressed by some other person.

3.) A particle to express that the speaker is determined about or resistant towards something.

4.) A particle appended to a verb in order to express the speaker’s wish about something.

5.) With the particle -ko to express “I wonder if”.

So the enclitic is used when conveying specific subjective expressions or opinions. It can have several meanings that in English would be expressed by accentuating the words differently or by adding extra words. Things like this are more intuitive for speakers of other agglutinative languages.

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That was so interesting. thanks

Not properly a ‘learner’ yet - I’ve done the introductory ten-lesson Pimsleur course but that really just hones up your pronunciation and doesn’t really give you much content at all. But I’m hoping to see it make an appearance as a supported language here, so … any chance you could ask your friend if she’d be willing to translate and/or record some of the mini-stories that the site owners are currently organising :stuck_out_tongue: