The Hungarian language is a Uralic language. The word “Uralic” is in reference to the Ural Mountains, original homeland of the Uralic tribe. The languages that have stemmed from the Uralic speech are spoken in all of the areas that are around this mountain range, with the Hungarian language being a Finno-Ugric branch of the Uralic language family. The Finno-Ugric language branch has taken many words from the linguistically unrelated but geographically close Indo-European languages. The name “Hungarian” is thought to have come from the word Onogur, which is the name of a Turkish tribe and means “ten arrows”.
Hungarian separated into its own language around three thousand years ago, and has evolved as its people have, from a primarily hunter-gatherer focused language to a farming community, with many nomadic cattle-raising tribes. Around 500AD, the Turkic languages later had a strong influence on the direction that the language took, and introduced many words on the subject of agriculture. When Hungarian people migrated to the Carpathian Basin around 900AD, they came into contact with Slavic and Romance languages and there are many of these words still in circulation in the Hungarian language today. This wasn’t simple a one way transition, however; 1.43% of words in the Romanian language are originally Hungarian.
The Kingdom of Hungary was formed in the year 1000AD by Stephen the First of Hungary. It was at this time that the Latin alphabet was adopted by Hungarian in order to begin writing the language widely. Because of this, we can see clear influences from the Latin language, and as a result, the first Biblical translation into Hungarian was around 1430AD.
With the scientific revolution in the 18th century, the Hungarian language was found to be a little lacking. The language that had been primarily based around community, family and the countryside was not scientifically minded enough to be of much use to the scientific community. However, instead of borrowing words from similarly developing cultures, the Hungarian language was adapted by a group of writers to make it suitable for use. This involved shortening certain words, reviving extinct words from the Latin, and coining entirely new expressions. The next few centuries saw more immense changes to the language, but this period in the 18th century is when the most radical changes were made.
In Europe, the Hungarian language is the one that is the most spoken, aside from Indo-European languages. In the country of Hungary, it is the official language. However, it is also an official language in several other countries, such as Slovakia, Slovenia and Austria. There are around 13 million native speakers worldwide, though the majority of around 10 million live in modern Hungary. The Hungarian language is spoken to some degree in each of its surrounding countries. The language itself is regulated by the Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
These days, most of the speakers of the Hungarian language live in Hungary. However, the country of Hungary used to have a much wider border than it does in the present day. When the region was known as the Kingdom of Hungary, certain areas that are now part of present day Romania used to be part of this Kingdom. As such, there are now around a million speakers of the Hungarian language living in Transylvania in Romania. There are also speakers around the world of the Hungarian language, as well as in closer areas, such as Israel, the U.K. and the U.S.
The word in the Hungarian language for “Hungarian” itself is magyar. This word is also sometimes used in English to refer directly to the Hungarian people as an ethnic group. Though the Hungarian language used to have six verb tenses, these days only two are in common usage.
In the Hungarian language, there are also 14 vowel phonemes and 25 consonant phonemes, though there are more vowels in this language than there are in English, so the Latin alphabet is adapted slightly for Hungarian use. The stress of the word always falls on the first syllable of the word, with occasionally a secondary stress on other syllables in the word.
There are several dialects of Hungarian, depending on the region of Hungary you are in. However, most of these dialects are easy to understand if you have knowledge of the basic Hungarian language. The only dialect that is more difficult to understand is the Csango dialect, which developed away from the main group of Hungarian people and interestingly carries many of the same traits as medieval Hungarian.
Why Learn The Hungarian Language?
The country of Hungary is one of the top tourist destinations in the world, and attracts around 8.6 million tourists each year. This is in part to the fantastic natural wonders such as the hot springs and huge lakes, but also in part to the beautiful buildings such as the largest synagogue in Europe and the largest Christian Necropolis outside of the country of Italy. Folk music is still considered very popular in Hungary, and can also be enjoyed much more if one is aware of the nuances of language.
In terms of business and economy, Hungary has a high income economy. Though it may be a country that is over-looked by certain businesses, learning the Hungarian language could open up some very interesting opportunities for an international business.