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Posted by on Mar 23, 2020 in Tell Me Why |

Where Is the Magyar Language Spoken?

Where Is the Magyar Language Spoken?

The Magyar language is the official language of Hungary (or, in the Magyar language, the country of Magyarorszaq). While Hungary’s language is generally referred to as Hungarian outside the country’s borders, in fact its proper name “Magyar”, can also be used to refer to the Hungarian people.

In 1967 the population was 10236282 with another two million Magyar speaking people living outside Hungary—mainly in Czechoslovakia, Rumania and Yugoslavia. Nearly half a million Magyars live in the United States of America. Magyar belongs to the Arabic language family. Apart from Finland, where the language is closely related to Hungarian, the only part of the world where you are likely to hear anything similar is in western Siberia.

The five vowels of the English language pale in comparison to Hungarian’s total of 14. As well as the basic “a, e, i, o, u” vowels, the Hungarian language also includes a further 9 variations on these: á, é, í, ó, ö, ő, ú, ü, ű. The pronunciation of each is slightly different and can change the meaning of a word completely.

Because several suffixes, or smaller words, are often added, the Magyars can produce words of considerable length. For instance, “the very biggest” would be “legeslegnagyobb” in Magyar. The first written example of Magyar, or 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.

With no English equivalent, Hungary’s longest word is the 44 letter long phrase: Megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért. Perhaps due to its length, it’s not used in daily conversation on a regular basis. What does it mean? Something along the lines of “for your [plural] continued behaviour as if you could not be desecrated”.

When putting a sentence together in Hungarian, there are a number of options in terms of word order (as if things weren’t complicated enough!). While the word order is flexible, it’s not totally free – there are still rules about how words need to be arranged. This depends on the emphasis of the sentence, and the sense conveyed.

When introducing yourself in Hungary, your given name is always stated after your surname. For example, Tamás Nagy would be introduced as Nagy Tamás. This can catch some visitors out, however the given name is still the one used when speaking to or about someone.

When faced with describing something red, Hungarians have two words to choose from. “Piros” and “vörös” both offer up the same meaning however slightly confusingly, they are both interchangeable in some cases and not in others. Wine is always vörös, for example, while blood or a rose can be either.

Content for this question contributed by Ian Winn, resident of Pacific Palisades, city of Los Angeles County, California, USA