Hungary: The Country and its Languages - Part 2
The Hungarian language relies heavily on prefixes and suffixes.
The grammar is quite complex, and one of the things that most English speakers struggle with when learning European languages is that there’s no gender. The Hungarian language relies heavily on prefixes and suffixes, meaning that it’s an agglutinative language. The word order in the Hungarian language is very flexible, and often when the word order is changed it has little or no effect on the sentence, or it may slightly emphasize one part more than another. However, this language does use the Roman alphabet and one can easily read Hungarian after learning a few simple rules, and, when compared with Russian or Czech, pronunciation is not as difficult. The Hungarian language uses several letters in addition to the standard letters of the Latin alphabet – these include (á,é,í,ó,ú) letters with acute accents representing long vowels; (ö and ü) umlauts, and (ő and ű ) their longer counterparts.
Ethnic and Geographical Distribution
With almost 11 million inhabitants, 92% of Hungary’s population speak Hungarian as their native language. Interestingly, almost 4 million Hungarian speakers live as minorities in neighboring countries – these are the areas that, prior to World War 1, were previously part of the Kingdom of Hungary. Almost 1.5 million of these people live in Romania, and Hungarian minorities can also be found in the Ukraine, Serbia, Slovakia, Austria, Croatia, and Slovenia. In the United States and in Israel larger groups of Hungarian speakers can also be found.
Romani is the language of the Romanies, and around 5% of the population of Hungary speak this language: in addition, around 0.5% speak Croatian.
Interesting Facts about Hungary
- Hungary was founded in 896, making it one of the oldest countries in Europe. This was prior to Germany and France becoming separate countries;
- Some Hungarian inventions include the ballpoint pen, Rubik’s cube, and holography;
- The weather is so hot in Hungary during the summer months that most locals leave the cities. Locals refer to this time as the cucumber-growing season because it’s possibly the only interesting activity occurring at that time of the year;
- Hungarian Goulash may be popular, but the most popular dish for Hungarian people is Cabbage Strudel. Rather than being made with apples, this dish is made with cabbage and sautéed raisins and sugar: it’s a lovely sweet dessert that’s been passed down from generation to generation;
- As mentioned above, Hungary is a landlocked country boarded by seven countries – Austria to the west; Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia and Romania to the south; the Ukraine to the north-east; and Slovakia to the north;
- It’s considered insensitive to clink beer glasses in Budapest. In 1848 the Austrians crushed a national uprising and, and as the Hungarian leaders were led off for execution, the Austrians celebrated with an almighty ‘cheers’. Today, this is still remembered!
- There are more than 1500 thermal spas across Hungary;
- Food is known as ‘A Feast for the Eye’ in Hungary, and it’s no wonder: Hungarian cuisine has been influenced by the Austrians, the Turkish, the Germans, and the Italians;
- If there are any aspiring authors out there, then you need to go to Budapest: it’s said you’ll become a better writer if you touch your pen to the Anonymous statue in the park near Heroes’ Square;
- It’s quite common at Hungarian weddings for the bride to suddenly put her shoes in the center of the room: this is known as the money dance because anyone who wishes to dance with the bride can do so, but only after leaving money in her shoes.