Why Hungarian Is So Difficult To Learn (And Why You Should Learn It Anyway)
We spoke to one of the owners of the only Hungarian bookstore in the United States about the complexity and the value of this isolated language.
Among the things native English speakers are known to struggle with, Mandarin Chinese, the rolled “r,” and general self-awareness rank prominently. That last part was mainly a joke, but learning the Hungarian language isn’t. Most Americans probably don’t know this, but Hungarian is one of the most difficult languages an English speaker can learn, as well as one of the most rewarding.
As it so happens, Hungarian is also a rare language to encounter in the United States. There’s only one Hungarian bookstore in the entire country: 10 Thousand Steps Bookstore in New York City. Timea Zsedely, who co-owns the business with her husband Mikky, says that although there are 9 million Hungarian speakers in Hungary and 7 million more outside its borders, there are only about 1.5 million people in the U.S. who consider themselves Hungarian, and many of them are first-generation Americans who struggle with the language.
Founded in 2008 and formerly residing in New York’s East Village neighborhood*, the bookstore hosts many cultural and language programs. Naturally, it provides lessons in Hungarian, as well as English, French, Spanish and German. It also runs a theater and film group that orchestrates multilingual theater productions.
As a professional language instructor who’s been teaching the Hungarian language for going on two decades, Zsedely believes it’s the second most difficult language an English speaker can learn, with Mandarin being the first.
“Hungarian is the most creative language in the world, which means you can play with the order and the cases, and moreover, with the suffixes and prefixes, too,” she said.
Here a few more reasons why she says you might struggle with Hungarian — and why it’s worth it.
- Hungarian has 35 distinct cases (like accusative), many of which are remnants of the Latin language.
- Word order is often flexible, and you can even create an independent word from just a prefix and a suffix, or from two suffixes. “For example, ‘nálam‘ means ‘at my place,’ but we don’t have to say ‘place’ because ‘-nál‘ is originally a suffix, which means ‘at,’ and ‘-m‘ is a possessive suffix (first-person singular), plus ‘-a-‘ is only a bridge sound (to make easier the pronunciation),” she explained. “We have many other cases when you can use the grammatical rules as a creative ‘game.’”
- You have to have a complete understanding of Hungarian grammar in order to nail the precision and subtle inflection it requires to accurately convey your meaning.
If you’re up for the challenge, you can certainly expect that it’ll make you a more interesting and well-rounded person.
“[Hungarian] is very unique, creative and poetic,” Zsedely said. “Learning it makes you uniquely special.”
Hungarian: One of the Most Difficult Language for Foreigners to Learn
Hungarian may be the most difficult language in the world for an English speaker to learn, for a variety of grammar, spelling, and pronunciation reasons.
Ah, language learning. I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of learning a language; I collect them like a hobby. While I’m only fluent in a very small number, I can casually speak quite a few because I enjoy dipping my toes into a language.
I know a lot of people are not so happy about it; many folks struggle with languages, in the same way, I would struggle in math – and just as irritates me when people who are good with numbers tell me how easy Calculus is, I know it’s irritating to people when I tell them how easy it is to learn a language.
So, let’s take a different tack this time around. What’s the hardest language in the world to learn for an English speaker? While some might suggest Arabic or Cantonese, I would suggest that Hungarian (or Magyar, as the natives sometimes refer to it) is hands-down the most difficult language for an English speaker to learn.
The Case of the Infinite Cases
The first piece of evidence for my suggestion is the fact that Hungarian has 35 distinct cases. English, by way of contrast, has largely abandoned the case system – the remnants are still there, but in general, it’s possible to speak quite clearly and correctly without any understanding of the case in English, and in fact many do.
Now, the number ‘35’ is misleading. You’ll often see 18 as a more reasonable number. The reason for this disparity is the fact that many of these ‘cases’ apply only to prepositions, which are then appended to the words themselves. So, yes, there is such a thing as the Accusative case in Hungarian, but that simply means that a single letter gets attached to the word to mark it as an object. Still, whether 18 or 35, the Case system in Hungarian is a nightmare.
Idioms, Verbs, and Pronunciation
Sadly, the terror of Hungarian doesn’t end there – Hungarian is a very expressive language that relies on idioms more than other languages, meaning it seems like a secret code to newcomers. In addition to all those cases, there are also 14 different vowels, nearly twice as many in English, and this not only makes spelling and comprehension difficulties, it means the words themselves are nightmares of unfamiliar appearance. Consider Italian or French: As you an English speaker, you might recognize many of the words in those languages by sight. This will not happen in Hungarian. Plus, there are two verb forms, the definite and indefinite, just to ensure you’re driven completely mad.
And Hungarian is difficult to speak and understand, as well, using a lot of ‘throaty’ sounds that are not only tough for people to mimic, but can actually be a little painful at replicate at first, until you get used to it. Consider the word for computer, számítógép. Do you have any idea how to pronounce that? I thought not!
Is Hungarian Hard to Learn?
This is an article for those who are interested in learning Hungarian, but still have questions they want answered before taking the plunge. Can you guess the first question potential learners tend to ask? Yep: “Is Hungarian hard to learn?”
Many people have the impression that Hungarian is difficult and that learning it is out of their grasp.
Below, we’ll answer some of the most commonly asked questions from absolute beginners. We wish to encourage them—and you—to overcome the obstacles and learn Hungarian. Here at Tam Tai Duc, we strive to help every learner achieve success, especially those who have reached a plateau during their language-learning journey. We guarantee that we’ll be there for you every step of the way.
In this article, we’ll shed some light on what things make Hungarian hard to learn, how to overcome them, and which aspects of the language are actually super-simple! And, if you’re already in the mood to learn Hungarian by the time you reach the end—which you probably will be, because it’s a unique and awesome language—we’ll give you some advice for starting out. Finally, we’ll list all the benefits of Tam Tai Duc and our services, and why we’re the best choice for Hungarian language-learning.
Are you ready to embark on a new, exciting, and challenging journey? Read on—you won’t regret it!
Is it Hard to Learn Hungarian?
Before you start learning Hungarian, you must be aware of the challenges you’re going to face. In this section, we’ll shed light on the question every native Hungarian gets asked by a foreigner at least once in their life: “Is Hungarian a hard language to learn?” Well, there are obviously a few hard parts, just like in any language, but really, Hungarian isn’t that difficult to master once you get the basics down.
That said, every learner is different and everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to language-learning. As such, it takes each and every person a different amount of time to master Hungarian. But one thing is guaranteed: If you’re dedicated enough to learn, and if you’re genuinely interested in the language and culture, the process will be easy as pie. You’ll find that the language is quite logically structured.
Another factor to take into consideration is the level at which you wish to speak the language. If you’re aiming for a basic speech level to make your way around Hungary and converse with natives, then your journey will be child’s play compared to someone seeking an advanced level.
However, whatever your goal is, you can count on Tam Tai Duc to be your constant companion.
To give you an example of the difference between a basic speech level and an advanced one, we’ve listed two sentences below. One is very simple, and the other is more complex.
- “The weather is nice.”
Szép az idő.
- “The weather is so nice, it makes me want to be outside all day.”
Olyan szép idő van, hogy legszívesebben egész nap kint lennék.
As you can see, the latter sentence contains more information than the former, and you can already see changes in conjugation!
What are the Hardest and Easiest Parts of Learning Hungarian?
To effectively map out your study strategy, you have to know what the hardest and easiest aspects of the language are. We’ll start by looking at the more difficult aspects.
1- Why is Hungarian Hard to Learn?
Hungarian has thirty-five different cases. Many of these cases apply solely to prepositions, which are then attached to the words themselves.
- “I brought you a cake.”
Hoztam neked egy tortát.
The sentence above is in the accusative case. Here, “I brought” is hoztam, “you” (actually meaning “to you”) is neked, and “a cake” is egy tortát. The -t at the end of tortát indicates the accusative case.
Hungarian has fourteen vowels. However, the only difference between most of them is their accents: a-á, e-é, o-ó-ö-ő, etc. Nevertheless, these ‘slight’ differences carry great value both in writing and in speech. If you misspell or mispronounce a vowel, the word could be nonsensical or mean something completely different than the word you intended to use. You can easily overcome this hardship by practicing the pronunciation of each vowel.
- “Eating” (Evés)
- “Yearly” (Éves)
- “Five” (Öt)
- “(I want) him/her” (Őt [akarom])
The hardest part of learning Hungarian for beginners is probably the pronunciation. Words that appear to be identical can mean completely different things. This happens when an accent—which is indicated by one or two little dots or lines above a vowel—causes a slight change in sound.
There are also digraphs to worry about. You’ll need to memorize these and learn which words are written with them. But remember: There’s nothing that can’t be mastered with a little practice.
In addition, there are a few sounds that learners tend to struggle with. Here are some things you’ll have to remember:
- The letter combination ‘sz’ represents the English [s] sound.
- ‘S’ alone represents the English [ʃ] sound.
- The ‘cs’ sound in Hungarian is [tʃ] in English, just like in “champion.”
- The Hungarian ‘zs’ sounds like [ʒ], or the ‘s’ in “pleasure.”
There are other digraphs (and thus, diphthongs) and one trigraph that English does not have. These include gy, ly, ny, ty, dz, and dzs, although many of these have similar sounds that occasionally appear in English.
Here’s a sentence with digraphs that, in speech, form diphthongs:
- “Hungarian is a very beautiful language.”
A magyar egy nagyon szép nyelv.
In this example, there are three different digraphs.
Other sound differences include:
- The ‘c’ sound in Hungarian is [ts] in English, just like at the end of “cats.”
- The letter ‘j’ is pronounced as the ‘y’ in “voyage.”
- The letter ‘r’ is rolled like in Spanish.
Once you get the hang of Hungarian pronunciation, it will actually become an “easy” part of the language, as Hungarian is rather phonetic. This means that if you familiarize yourself with the diphthongs, digraphs, and other sounds and letters that English doesn’t have, you’ll be able to easily write down a word you hear and vice-versa. In Hungarian, every letter has its own sound (except for ‘j’ and ‘ly’ which have the exact same sound: [j]) and every sound belongs to a letter (except for the above-mentioned [j] sound). This makes the pronunciation and spelling simpler than in languages like French or English.
2- Why is it Easy?
Now, let’s see what exactly makes learning Hungarian super-easy!
Hungarian might be from a different language family than English, but as it’s located in Europe, it took on many loanwords from its neighbors. So there are some words you’ll definitely recognize when you see or hear them.
Keeping in mind that the spelling has changed to match the rules of Hungarian phonetics, you’ll certainly recognize these words:
There are at least 500 of such “borrowed” words in Hungarian.
2. Verb tenses
- “I (am) read(ing).”
Hungarian does not differentiate between the simple present and the present continuous tenses.
- “I (was) read(ing).”
Neither does it differentiate between the simple past or past continuous.
- “I will (be) read(ing).”
The way Hungarians usually form the future tense is with an infinitive verb and the conjugated form of fog.
This structure is gradually falling out of use as Hungarians tend to express the future tense with the help of the present tense. When doing so, the present tense verb is typically preceded by a time adverb. For instance, “later” or “tomorrow.”
- “I will read.”
Majd / Később olvasok.
Majd and később both have a similar meaning to “later.”
- “I will read tomorrow.”
Hungarian does not have grammatical gender. Because of this, you don’t have to worry about which form/gender of “the” to use, as you would in French or German, for example. In Hungarian, you can use your brain cells for more important things.
Hungarian has a very straightforward way of forming plural nouns. It’s as easy as doing so in English, but the letter used in Hungarian is different. While English uses ‘s’ (e.g. “cats“), Hungarian uses ‘k’ (macskák).
If the stem word ends in a vowel, then the vowel gets an accent:
If it’s a possessive noun, Hungarians use an ‘i’ before the possessive letter at the end (instead of a ‘k’). That’s about it.
- “My cat”
- “My cats”
I Want to Learn Hungarian. Where Should I Start?
If you’ve managed to get over the “How hard is Hungarian to learn?” question, and if you’re eager to start learning it now despite the challenges it might pose, you’re in the right place. Here, we’ll give you some advice on where to start your language-learning journey.
1 – Create a study schedule and set goals.
Setting goals gives you motivation and something to strive for. It’s even better if you put them down on paper, so if you ever feel unmotivated, you just have to look at them and remind yourself of why you’re learning Hungarian.
2 – Expand your vocabulary.
Use word lists to build up a solid vocabulary. Luckily, we have all the word lists you need, with a range of topics, from Food to Love! Choose whichever topic you want to study and go! Don’t forget that you can get pretty far in a conversation if you know just enough words. Start with nouns and work your way through verbs and adjectives.
3 – Make it fun.
Once you learn how to make your study time fun, you’ll look forward to studying a whole lot more. Great ways of making language-learning enjoyable include listening to Hungarian music and checking the lyrics of songs, or watching Hungarian series. There are many options online on RTL Most.
4 – Find a study partner.
Another way of making studying fun is to do it with a friend. Learning Hungarian with one of your friends does more than give you two bonding time—it also makes you twice as efficient because you push each other toward your goals. That said, your study partner doesn’t have to be someone you know already. You can find someone online who shares your Hungarian-learning interests and ambitions. If possible, though, studying with a native speaker is the best way to really pick up the language!
Are there any language-learning strategies that have helped you in the past? Let us know in the comments!
Advice for a New Hungarian-Learner
Learning a new language can be a lot of fun, especially if that language is as awesome as Hungarian. Of course, knowing the language is a must if you plan to live in Hungary, but even if you just learn Hungarian as a hobby, you’ll have a cool “fun fact” to tell about yourself when meeting new people.
If you really want to learn Hungarian, the first thing you must do is never become discouraged or afraid. You should understand that Hungarian might take quite some time to master—depending on your goals, as we told you above—but it will be so rewarding once you’ve gotten there!
1 – Listen to words and lines over and over again.
If you listen to Hungarian content often and really pay attention, you’ll easily start to notice the tones people use (i.e. when they raise or lower their voices) and the rhythm of their speech. Paying attention to these aspects and repeating the things you hear will help you sound more like a local.
2 – Perfect your pronunciation.
As we said above, Hungarian pronunciation is considered a difficult aspect of learning the language, but it’s not Mission Impossible. Just record your voice when trying to pronounce words and then listen to that word said out loud by a native speaker. Compare their pronunciation to yours, and if you’re not quite there yet, keep repeating the process. Your accent will soon vanish.
3 – Use applications.
We strongly suggest that you download applications onto your phone so you can study on the go, even if your notes and books aren’t with you. Fortunately, Tam Tai Duc has an application that has everything in one place. That said, your phone can be of great use even if you only use its camera. Just take pictures of your notes, and you’ll never have to carry notebooks or heavy study books with you again!
4 – Be open.
You’ll soon notice that Hungarian is like no other language. You must be open to the Hungarian language, as well as the culture, if you want to succeed. Try to speak to natives frequently (we recommend the online application Tandem). If you’re exposed to the language you’re learning on a daily basis, it will be much easier for words and expressions to stick in your mind. In addition, if you’re speaking with somebody interesting and having a fascinating conversation, you’re studying almost effortlessly.
Here are a few icebreakers for these conversations:
- “Do you play any sports?”
- “Yes, I play volleyball.”
- “And what do you think of basketball?”
És mit gondolsz a kosárlabdáról?
- “I love it. I always watch the NBL. And you?”
Imádom. Mindig nézem az NBL-t. És te?
Why Hungarian is easy
I’m sure the title of this post will have many people doing a double take, but yes you read that right: Hungarian is easy.
Hungarian is not an Indo-European language (i.e. Hindi actually has more in common with English/French/German/Russian etc. than Hungarian does), so it’s very different to all of its neighbours and this gives it the reputation of being among the most challenging languages in the world.
And yes, it can be “hard”. But not because a bunch of people say it is; it only matters what you think if you are taking on the language yourself. There is no such thing as a hardest language, only a “hard” attitude. If you have your filter set to pessimist then you can find many reasons why Hungarian or Spanish or French is “impossible” to learn.
But the way I managed to be able to speak Hungarian in just two months was doing the exact opposite. Much to the frustration of people who I met, who were convinced Hungarian was the hardest language in the world, I would cheerily maintain how ridiculously easy my task was.
This approach meant I had no mental barriers, no nagging doubts in my head, no fears to just say something and make mistakes, I just spoke and let the progress flow enough for me to be able to have genuine friendships entirely through Hungarian.
But rather than repeating an empty mantra of “Hungarian is easy” over and over again, I was genuinely looking for actual aspects of the language that would support this mentality and I am going to share these findings with you in this post in the hopes that other Hungarian learners will ignore the unhelpful discouragement from other learners and even from natives. The time for excuses is over!
Of course, I’ve done exactly the same thing for Czech and even wrote a whole book about Why German is easy along the same lines.
A note from the Fluent in 3 Months team before we get started: You can chat away with a native speaker for at least 15 minutes with the “Fluent in 3 Months” method. All it takes is 90 days. Tap this link to find out more.
Best way to learn it?
If you’re new to this blog you might not have seen me say quite frequently that the best way to gain fluency in any language is to speak it right away. Hungarian does not earn an exception to this rule and get granted the “wait until you’re ready” card.
If you live in Hungary, stop hanging out exclusively with expats and if you would like to get into it from abroad, you should realize that there are thousands of Hungarians signed into language exchange sites frustrated that nobody wants to practise their language with them, just a free Skype call away. Seriously.
Get into speaking it now and have a human being guide you through the feeling of the language! Otherwise you can find podcasts and streamed radio in Hungarian, look up words you don’t know on the free online dictionary Sztaki, and read countless websites and books in the language. One cool blog for example is Öt év – öt nyelv (5 years, 5 languages) run by my friend Bálint, who also translated the Language Hacking Guide entirely to Hungarian (which is part of the multilingual download) for people to use as reading practice.
Otherwise you can use traditional study tools, but don’t dwell too much on these. For books I found Hungarian – an essential grammar to be a useful very technical explanation of the language (not for the faint hearted; unlike most courses there are no pretty pictures or dialogues; it’s pure grammar but explained well) and Colloquial Hungarian is a more natural way to ease into the language with lots of examples in context, and learning essential vocabulary in the right order. I also like to learn via another language and quite enjoyed Assimil’s Le Hongrois de poche in French.
One of the first things you will hear when someone is describing Hungarian to you is that it has “over twenty cases” (exact number depends on the source). This is pure hogwash.
From learning a Slavic language (Czech) and German, I have a pretty good idea what a grammatical case is; Genitive, Accusative, Dative, Vocative etc. and while I have my ways of getting through these (described in the Czech/German guides linked above), they are still quite a lot of work and will slow you down when you are learning a language.
Hungarian’s “cases” are nothing like these. There is almost no complexity to them at all! It’s just a fancy name for “the preposition gets attached to the end of the word”. So while in Czech, any case requires you to know (or at least extrapolate) up to fourteen possible combinations per word (which luckily follow patterns) for each case, Hungarian just has two or three, which are almost always totally obvious.
Seriously; they are just prepositions! You could call it the “dative”, but it’s actually the “to/for”. So in German’s dative you’d need to have the article (dem, der, dem) agree in gender, then modify the adjective ending, and then sometimes get the right ending on the noun, in Hungarian you just add “-nek” or “-nak” to the end. Which one you use only depends on the vowels in the word.
So Csillának adtam egy könyvet is I gave a book to Csilla. “In” Budapest is written as Budapesten. These “cases” don’t influence articles or adjectives and are a short list to learn, which you’d have to learn anyway in other languages as prepositions.
It takes some getting used to when you attach them to the end of the word rather than the beginning, and the only other trick is that if you use a demonstrative (“this” or “that”) it also gets attached to the word this/that. But that’s about it!
(Possessives work in almost the same way; my/your/his etc. get attached to the end of the word instead of before it.)
Stop thinking of them as cases, and just think of them as fancy prepositions and you’ll do fine. They aren’t even that fancy. Think of things like “with John” as “John with” and the challenge suddenly starts to disappear.
Hungarian is an almost perfectly phonetic language.
It takes some getting used to that Sz represents the “s” sound and S alone represents the “sh” sound, the “c” sound is “ts” like in cats (Esperanto and Slavic languages do this too) and “cs” is “ch” (like chair), j is pronounced as “y”, zs is the French j sound like the s in pleasure, the ö and ü (and corresponding longer versions) are different vowel sounds and the famous gy in the language name itself, magyar is also something we don’t directly have in English, but can be pretty accurately approximated by “dy” and “ly” is pronounced as if it was just “y”. The r is rolled like in Spanish.
That’s pretty summarises the most important differences.
Other parts of the phonetics are very straightforward and not strange at all, so you can spell a word when you hear it spoken and pronounce it when you see it written for the first time (unlike in English). Learn the above differences and you’ll do fine. It may seem complicated, but pronouncing based on spelling in French for example is way more complicated.
This follows a very European style of 1st, 2nd, 3rd person singular and then 1st, 2nd, 3rd person plural and strangely enough seems very similar to Spanish or Italian in a lot of ways.
For example, speak is “beszél”, but you speak is “beszélsz” (remember, sz is pronounced “s”), like Spanish’s hablar–> hablas. Because they aren’t actually related, similarities are more coincidental, but they aren’t that far off.
The absolute easiest part of Hungarian conjugation is the fact that it is basically based around just three verb tenses; past, present, future. Any other European language will have past perfect, pluperfect, etc. but it’s more straightforward in Hungarian. All conjugations are very consistent and there are way less irregular verbs than there are in many other languages.
The one thing that does indeed take some getting used to is separating the definite and indefinite conjugation, which doesn’t exist in other European languages. While this is indeed tricky to get used to, the basic premise isn’t that complicated (does the object in the sentence have an “a” or a “the” is the basic question you need to ask yourself), and even if you mess up while you are learning, Hungarians will always understand you.
Like in any language, you are required to study a few tables to get the gist of how conjugations work, but I find the complexities in Spanish’s conjugation to be much more diverse and found Hungarian’s to be very logical and predictable, even after taking “exceptions” into account.
4. NOUN GENDERS
Oh sorry, Hungarian doesn’t have grammatical genders. So there are no extra ways to learn how to say “the”, no adjective or case agreement to worry about and no memory techniques required to make sure you aren’t using the wrong one.
Verdict: way too easy
Hungarian is pretty much as good as English here! English uses ‘s’ (dogs), Hungarian uses ‘k’ (kutyák). If the noun ends in a vowel then it gets an accent and if it’s a possessive, it becomes an i before the ending possessive letter. That’s about it.
Verdict: Child’s play
This is what usually intimidates people the most; since it’s an unrelated language it simply has too many words that are totally different.
DIFFERENT WAYS TO FORM WORDS
Usually if someone wants to really intimidate you, they’ll give some obscure term that shows how big the words can get, but this is the exception rather than the rule. Keep in mind that prepositions and possessives go at the end, but get attached to the word rather than coming with a space. It’s like in English if we said friendsmywith instead of “with my friends”. It takes some getting used to, but it’s not that bad.
Keep in mind that it’s just a different way to think about forming words. When you immediately go to cry-baby mode and complain about how it’s not the same as in English, then you’re missing the point entirely. You’re learning a foreign language because it’s different! If everything was the same as English it wouldn’t be a foreign language.
Go with the flow rather than crying about it. Accepting the differences rather than constantly complaining about them is the best way to get through them quicker.
Words have a vowel agreement structure that actually helps with the musicality of the language. This was a little easier for me to get used to because Irish has a similar vowel agreement structure in spelling words, but it’s very logical. It’s different and takes some getting used to, but the basic rules behind it are easy.
HUNDREDS OF WORDS YOU ALREADY KNOW
I like to remind people when they take on any language that they are usually starting with hundreds or thousands of words already; it’s impossible to start any language off from absolute scratch because there are always some features that resemble whatever you are coming from, especially vocabulary.
Hungarian is no exception. It may be from a different language family, but being located in Europe means it took on many loan words from its neighbours and if you familiarise yourself with this list you’ll have a nice wee head start.
Keeping in mind that the spelling changes to be true to Hungarian phonetics, you’ll certainly recognise these words: alkohol, analízis, asztrológia, bank, busz, kategória, kombináció, kommunizmus, dizájn (pronounced precisely the same as “design”), dráma, elefánt, feminista, idióta, liberális, magazin, misszió, neutrális, opera, park, pesszimista, placebó, probléma, szex, sport, stratégia, stressz, taxi, toalett, turista, tradíció…
The list could go on and on, and it does! When I was getting help in Hungarian from Káta, we kept noting such words and compiled a list of almost 500 of them. You can see that in this PDF (click to view directly on the site or Right Click/control, Save As to read through it later.)
While this is a great start to get you into the flow of saying something, they are clearly not the more typical words you would be using, but those are formed with incredible consistency.
WORD FORMATION IS VERY STRAIGHTFORWARD
When you have a good memory technique, learning all the new vocabulary will come much easier to you. But the good news is that you will start to see patterns that make it much easier to assimilate new vocabulary as you encounter it.
Words are formed by adding a host of predictable prefixes and suffixes, which means that once you learn a base word you have way more flexibility to create words based on that than you ever do in English or other languages.
For example: szent is “holy” or “saint” (pronounced the same). Szentség is holiness/sanctity (adding the noun-forming suffix –ség ‘-ness’). Szentségtelen is impious/sacrilegious (addition of the adjective-forming suffix –telen ‘un-‘). Megszentségtelenít is defile/profane (addition of verb-forming suffix –ít, i.e. “to make something do something” and coverb meg (usually indicating a completed action) which is used very frequently in the language in such situations).
If you see words like impious or defile in English there is no way you could simply figure out what they mean. But learning a very small number of prefixes and suffixes in Hungarian (a great list and explanation is given in “Hungarian – An essential grammar” linked above) will exponentially increase your potential in forming and understanding words, and this reduces your workload dramatically.
For example, –ász or –ész is added to verb stems to form occupations. So épít = build, építész = architect, gyógy- = cure, gyógyász = doctor, hal = fish, halász = fisherman, nyelv = language, nyelvész = linguist, szín = scene, színész = actor. This is way more versatile than English, and once you have learned the small ways to change words, and learn some basic core vocabulary, you have an instant set of thousands of words!
Start as you mean to go on
There’s no way I can summarise an entire language in a relatively short post like this, but that’s not the point. Of course you can retort this with a list of reasons why Hungarian is hard, but there’s no need – that’s what pretty much every language course does anyway!
On top of that, trying to prove any particular language as the hardest serves no purpose whatsoever beyond mental masturbation for linguists, or pride for native speakers. If you are learning the language anyway for cultural heritage, living in the country, or because you genuinely want to then who cares how it stands relative to other languages?
Seeing nothing but the differences and hard points is a bogus way to look at a language. It does absolutely nothing to help you.
When you focus on how impossible it is, you are setting yourself up for failure. Calling a language hard is a self-fulfilling prophecy of you finding more and more evidence to support that theory (and you will find it I’m sure), getting discouraged, and not being able to speak because of this. It’s not the difficulties themselves causing the problem, it’s your mentality towards them!
Start on the right foot and focus on points like those above. When you come to something difficult, take it in your stride and accept that at first you won’t be able to say it perfectly. There are many ways to speak a language from day one without being an expert in it, and you can indeed get by pretty well in the language in no time when you have a positive attitude to it.
And more importantly, I can tell you from experience that Hungarians are very appreciative of people learning their language and will always encourage you and help you, and will be patient with you as you make mistakes.
So what do you think, Is Hungarian easy? Of course, any language takes many years to master perfectly, but there is nothing stopping you from trying to get by in it and to live parts of your life through it. Nothing but your own doubts.
Mọi chi tiết liên hệ với chúng tôi :
TRUNG TÂM GIA SƯ TÂM TÀI ĐỨC
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