As most of you know I’ve been living in Budapest for over 16 months now, running an English teaching business and generally enjoying being in one of the most vibrant cities in Europe.
One thing a lot of people ask me is whether I can speak the local lingo. They all want to know how hard it is to learn Hungarian. The answer, refreshingly, is that it’s not too hard at all.
It’s difficult, that’s for sure. Or perhaps unrecognisable is a better word. While most other languages in Europe are Indo-European or Slavic, Hungarian sits in a family of it’s own as a Uralic language. It’s closest cousins, Estonian and Finnish, share almost nothing in common and finding any language similarity requires checking out a few dialects spoken only in distant Siberia. What this means to the budding Polyglot is – nothing you’ve learned before is going to help you learn Hungarian.
Apart from having to learn all new vocabulary, one of the other pain points is cases. There are 18 of them and they are expressed by adding bits to the end of a word. For the unfamiliar, this can take a little while to get used to. Those words can get long!
But, as promised, there is plenty of easy stuff as well. The language is phonetic so once you learn to pronounce the alphabet you can just say what you see written down. Add to that the lack of noun genders and the fact that there are only two tenses (past and present) and you’ve yourself a language that you can get your teeth into.
Don’t let anyone put you off. Start learning Hungarian today.