What makes Hungarian hard?

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Levike
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What makes Hungarian hard?

Postby Levike » 2013-04-29, 19:02

I am a native Hungarian from Transylvania who sometimes butchers his own mothertongue:
- I put like a lot of Romanian and Spanish words in it
- Sometimes I do make some grammar errors ( often influenced by Romance languages )
- My writing is horrible ( I cannot make any difference between ö ü u i and ő ű ú í )

But what makes Hungarian so difficult: ( in my opinion )
- The grammar is everywhere and to complex ( especially vowel harmony )
- The vocabulary is toooo different, it doesn't resemble the other languages that I speak
- That thing with the ö ü u i and ő ű ú í sounds and with the double consonants

WHAT'S YOUR OPINION ? ? ?
What makes this language hard to learn and to master ? ? ?
Last edited by Levike on 2014-03-29, 23:34, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: What makes Hungarian hard ? ? ?

Postby mōdgethanc » 2013-04-29, 20:21

I can only speak from the viewpoint of an English native, but anyway:
Levente.Maier wrote:- The grammar is everywhere and to complex
Kind of a meaningless statement, IMO. Every language has grammar everywhere.

But to somebody who doesn't speak a language with case marking, 15 cases is pretty daunting. The lack of gender is a bonus, though, since English doesn't have it either.
- The vocabulary is toooo different, it doesn't resemble the other languages that I speak
This is a big problem as well, unless you speak another Finno-Ugric language natively.
- That thing with the ö ü u i and ő ű ú í sounds and with the double consonants
The phonology seems like it would be pretty hard for English speakers, particularly the vowels (front rounded vowels and vowel harmony are pretty alien to us).

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Re: What makes Hungarian hard ? ? ?

Postby johnklepac » 2013-04-30, 0:08

From what I've heard, the real child-killer is the cases. That's how it is with Czech for me, though with Czech people seem to complain more about the pronunciation.

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Re: What makes Hungarian hard ? ? ?

Postby Levo » 2013-04-30, 12:11

Levente, what kind of problem do you have with i-í, ö-ő? :-O

I have never had any problem with long and short vowels...

I never understood why someone has problems with our case-system and not having problem with Slavic case-system :D Theirs is more complicated having different case-conjugations for different genders as well...

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Re: What makes Hungarian hard ? ? ?

Postby Varislintu » 2013-05-02, 9:34

Levo wrote:Levente, what kind of problem do you have with i-í, ö-ő? :-O

I have never had any problem with long and short vowels...


Maybe he means it's hard for others, who don't make a distinction natively? Because it seems to be a very difficult thing for such people, also when it comes to Finnish. Many immigrants here have an impressive vocabulary and make few grammar errors, but still mix long and short vowels and consonants all over the place. :P

For me, because I'm yet to make a true effort at learning Hungarian grammar, the most difficult thing remains the pronunciation. Especially /e/, which is like the most common vowel in Hungarian, but which I cant make. I tend to say it as a Finnish /ä/ so as to distinguish it from /é/, even if I know it's a crude solution. But that's actually how books on Hungarian for Finnish speakers advise you to pronounce it. :P
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Re: What makes Hungarian hard ? ? ?

Postby mōdgethanc » 2013-05-02, 16:51

I never understood why someone has problems with our case-system and not having problem with Slavic case-system Theirs is more complicated having different case-conjugations for different genders as well...
I never said they didn't. In fact, I think Russian is probably just as hard for English speakers as Hungarian is.

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Re: What makes Hungarian hard ? ? ?

Postby Ektoras » 2013-05-02, 17:02

I think the hardest part of Hungarian is the prefixes:

csinálni, felcsinálni; or you have the vulgar baszni and then you have kibaszni, átbaszni, felbaszni, megbaszni etc.

Also, I would say, its syntax is a mystery for me.

For Slavic languages, sure the case system isn't exactly a cake to master, but the main difficulty, I'd say, lies in the perfective/imperfective usage.

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Re: What makes Hungarian hard ? ? ?

Postby Levo » 2013-05-03, 7:49

Varislintu wrote:
Levo wrote:Levente, what kind of problem do you have with i-í, ö-ő? :-O

I have never had any problem with long and short vowels...


Maybe he means it's hard for others, who don't make a distinction natively?


No, he wrote clearly, he has his own problems with short and long vowels while writing in Hungarian, he cannot always make a difference.


Varislintu wrote:For me, because I'm yet to make a true effort at learning Hungarian grammar, the most difficult thing remains the pronunciation. Especially /e/, which is like the most common vowel in Hungarian, but which I cant make. I tend to say it as a Finnish /ä/ so as to distinguish it from /é/, even if I know it's a crude solution. But that's actually how books on Hungarian for Finnish speakers advise you to pronounce it. :P


I didn't know you still try to learn Hungarian :)
By the way, ä is not such a big problem. I mean, we understand it, especially that several dialects tended to use it. I have more acquaintances from Western-Transdanubia, who use ä today too.
To be honest, for me, using ä in Hungarian sounds rather archaic (and cool) rather than foreign sounding. When an English pronounces aspirated p,t,d, that is annoying indeed.

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Re: What makes Hungarian hard ? ? ?

Postby Varislintu » 2013-05-03, 9:06

Levo wrote:I didn't know you still try to learn Hungarian :)


Oh, of course I do! :) I'm not learning it from a book yet, but I do try to learn a little bit more here and there from listening and asking. Growing my vocabulary and understanding starting from the most common words I hear. I'll probably visit Hungary yearly for many, many years to come, and I can't communicate effectively with my in-laws yet, which I'd like to. Also, if I have children, they will be Hungarian native speakers, so I want to be able to at least understand the topics they're talking about. ;)

Levo wrote:By the way, ä is not such a big problem. I mean, we understand it, especially that several dialects tended to use it. I have more acquaintances from Western-Transdanubia, who use ä today too.
To be honest, for me, using ä in Hungarian sounds rather archaic (and cool) rather than foreign sounding. When an English pronounces aspirated p,t,d, that is annoying indeed.


Oh, that's good to hear, makes me feel less self conscious! :)
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Re: What makes Hungarian hard ? ? ?

Postby chung » 2013-05-03, 16:34

Ektoras wrote:I think the hardest part of Hungarian is the prefixes:

csinálni, felcsinálni; or you have the vulgar baszni and then you have kibaszni, átbaszni, felbaszni, megbaszni etc.

Also, I would say, its syntax is a mystery for me.

For Slavic languages, sure the case system isn't exactly a cake to master, but the main difficulty, I'd say, lies in the perfective/imperfective usage.


Syntax is the hardest thing for me to figure out since the only reliable rule that I've ever picked up is that the focused element precedes the main verb. However this often leaves me at a loss as to how to arrange the other elements of the sentence. I can put together a grammatical sentence with the right choice of words and correct inflection, but I often get my word order corrected by native speakers.
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Re: What makes Hungarian hard ? ? ?

Postby mōdgethanc » 2013-05-03, 18:07

When an English pronounces aspirated p,t,d, that is annoying indeed.
You mean /p, t, k/. And it's really a hard habit for me to break.

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Re: What makes Hungarian hard ? ? ?

Postby gothwolf » 2013-05-03, 21:12

For me the hardest thing in Hungarian is the short vs long vowel distinction. I mean if I have to learn a word I can memorize the way it looks like but if somebody reads an unknown word to me I hardly can take the decision if the vowel is long or short only by hearing it.
The word order is a bit hard as well... especially when we talk about the stupid verbal prefixes and their place in the sentence. Of course there are rules but still...
Otherwise I think Hungarian grammar is pretty logical and once you got the mechanism and got used to it you won't have any problems.

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Re: What makes Hungarian hard ? ? ?

Postby Levo » 2013-05-08, 11:44

chung wrote:
Ektoras wrote:I think the hardest part of Hungarian is the prefixes:

csinálni, felcsinálni; or you have the vulgar baszni and then you have kibaszni, átbaszni, felbaszni, megbaszni etc.

Also, I would say, its syntax is a mystery for me.

For Slavic languages, sure the case system isn't exactly a cake to master, but the main difficulty, I'd say, lies in the perfective/imperfective usage.


Syntax is the hardest thing for me to figure out since the only reliable rule that I've ever picked up is that the focused element precedes the main verb. However this often leaves me at a loss as to how to arrange the other elements of the sentence. I can put together a grammatical sentence with the right choice of words and correct inflection, but I often get my word order corrected by native speakers.

I can pretty much understand you chung.
Once I tried to sum up our syntax for a Unilanger and I realized I could discover no followable universal rule (other than pretty often it is the second word in the sentence that gets the emphasis.)

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Re: What makes Hungarian hard ? ? ?

Postby Mohammed Lee » 2013-09-14, 3:54

All those damn endings! The different sets of verb endings (past, present, indefinite, definite, front vowel, back vowel), the possessive endings, and then the prepositional pronoun endings (like rólam, rólunk, etc.) It's so confusing, and I always find myself thinking things like "So was this word supposed to end in -unk, -uk, or -juk?"

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Re: What makes Hungarian hard ? ? ?

Postby ffrench » 2013-09-14, 11:35

I know I mumble the ends of half my sentences because I forget mid-speech what ending or verb conjugation I need to use. Good thing I only speak to family, who are forgiving.

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Re: What makes Hungarian hard ? ? ?

Postby jsami33 » 2013-11-11, 16:36

I would put the question the other way round: what is easy in Hungarian?
The only thing I can think of are the times - no need to worry about whether to chose imperfect, perfect, past perfect or continuous forms etc..

what makes it hard for the beginner is the overload of choices you have to make when building a sentence, the verbs are hard when they change meaning like MEGtakarítani compared to takarítani and the word order - which seems - at least to a beginner - incomprehensible. Understanding what needs to be focussed in a sentence is something you learn just at a later stage…

but Hungarian is such a beautiful language… so worth the trouble :-)

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Re: What makes Hungarian hard ? ? ?

Postby Levike » 2013-11-11, 17:28

Easy:

1. Plurals are quite regular
2. No gender, not even at pronouns
3. You don't have to guess which article to put before a noun
4. No German or Romanian-like grammatical cases
5. No English-like spelling
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Re: What makes Hungarian hard ? ? ?

Postby Fear_a_Phléasc » 2013-12-20, 4:34

It's the most "regular" language I've studied, i.e. the ability to predict forms based on knowledge of basic rules is more consistent than anything else I've studied. The lack of gender is certainly a welcome feature to any English speaker who has learned other noun-class languages.

I have sort of let my Hungarian go. I studied it fairly intensely for a while and visited Hungary once. I think people there were able to understand what I said but I just had not developed my ability to understand what was said back to me, especially at that speed.

I think that is ultimately what is really difficult about the language: being accustomed to the fluidity of the syntax and remembering what you were even talking about by the time you get to the verb and whatever endings it has. Even speaking is not as much a challenge, provided you get your cases right, because a native will probably be able to decipher what you want. Being able to decipher their own stream of information is another matter.

The things like the number of "cases" that may appear intimidating to a beginner really aren't that difficult. It is no different from any other language in which you must learn through experience which cases are used for which thing. Even with prepositions this ambiguity exists. Have a German explain why you go "auf die Post" (yes, there is a logical explanation, or at least a historical one). Similarly, the alien nature of the words I don't think is a lasting difficulty. It is fairly easy I think to acquire a taste for the Hungarian phonetic aesthetic. Vowel harmony is also something that I think is fairly natural once you actually spend some time with the language and don't try to over-think (most of learning a language is learning what simply sounds right).

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Re: What makes Hungarian hard?

Postby france-eesti » 2016-10-06, 12:52

I actually thought I had mastered the beast - understood its inner philosophy, how it works, its logic (because Hungarian is very logical, after all). But then I came across that :

Illative: -ba/be
Inessive: -ban/ben
Elative: -ból/ből

Allative: -hoz/hez/höz
Adessive: -nál/nél
Ablative: -tól/től

Sublative: -ra/re
Superessive: -n
Delative: -ról/ről

:|

Why, why why 9 different endings to express "where"? :doggy: honestly, I really liked you, Hungarian, but now... :|

Okay, I still like you, but this is not a good surprise for me (like the day I discovered I would have to learn partitive in Estonian, and choose between partitive and genitive and another of its friends to express direct object).
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Re: What makes Hungarian hard?

Postby Levo » 2016-10-07, 15:45

france-eesti wrote:I actually thought I had mastered the beast - understood its inner philosophy, how it works, its logic (because Hungarian is very logical, after all). But then I came across that :

Illative: -ba/be
Inessive: -ban/ben
Elative: -ból/ből

Allative: -hoz/hez/höz
Adessive: -nál/nél
Ablative: -tól/től

Sublative: -ra/re
Superessive: -n
Delative: -ról/ről

:|

Why, why why 9 different endings to express "where"? :doggy: honestly, I really liked you, Hungarian, but now... :|

Okay, I still like you, but this is not a good surprise for me (like the day I discovered I would have to learn partitive in Estonian, and choose between partitive and genitive and another of its friends to express direct object).


Now this is the post I am really surprised at!

I thought it was the easiest part which is taught around the first classes.

English, Spanish also have these:

Superessive: on
Adessive: at
Inessive: in

Illative: into
Sublative: onto
etc...

It's just that you put the indo-european "preposition" to the end of the word and label it "suffix". Nothing else.
English and Spanish, etc uses these prepositions to abstractions too just like Hungarian. I don't see too much difference between these.


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