Learners: What's hardest for you?

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Learners: What's hardest for you?

Postby Narbleh » 2010-06-26, 18:50

I'm curious what folks learning Hungarian have found the most challenging. There aren't oodles of resources out there like for French/Italian/whatever that specifically address this question.

I also have some other newbie questions that might be dumb :)

* Does noun declension often cause changes in the root, or is it more predictable?
* Are there many irregular verbs, and if so, in what ways are they irregular?
* Are dialectal differences within the continent major (e.g. in Swedish) or relatively minor (e.g. in French)?
* I've read that Hungarian just loves its affixes. Can someone take a simple root and show me some of the different words that can be built from it with some affixes?

Thanks for indulging my curiosity :P I'm interested in learning a non-IE language and I'm eying Hungarian.
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Re: Learners: What's hardest for you?

Postby ''' » 2010-06-26, 19:53

1/ not really, there are 3 types of root change:
a/ demotion, short vowels disappear, long vowels shorten. (I have more info in it if u need)
b/ addition of -v, this comes from a historic -w which merged with the preceeding vowel to make a long vowel e.g. ló |low| -> lovak |lowak| or tó |taw| -> tavak |tawak| or a -w which became -u like daru -> darvak
c/ metathesis, which affects only 3 nouns:
kehely -> kelyhek
pehely -> pelyhek
teher -> terhek

2/ the truly "irregular" verbs (I'm workign on them) are, I think, menni ennei tenni venni lenni hinni vinni jönni where irregularity generaly means a root change in different tense/moods. Lenni is a merger of lenni (become) and "vanni" (to be) [note vanni doesn't exist, I use it for demonstrative purposes]
the vanni forms are limited to present and past indicative, in turn the indicative past of lenni now means "became/came into existence" while the present tense of lenni is now the future tense of vanni.
Jönni contains 3 forms of an other verb namely gyere, gyerünk, and gyertek which usually replace the te mi and ti forms of the jussive which are jöjj(él), jöjjünk, and jöjjetek respectively.

3/ dialects are not too extreme. Living out side I have trouble with them but my family can all understand any given dialect with no problem. It's usually an accent difference. There are some dialectal words too like tik and tikmony for hen and egg and some dialects still diff e and ë and é while in Budapest ë merged.

4/ hahaha
szent - saint, sacred
megszentséghetetlenségeskedéseitekért - for the things you (pl) have done which have made you unsanctifiable

also tan (a root used for knowledge, I suspect a cognate of the persian دانِش):
tanul - learn
tanít - teach
tanár - teacher
tantárgy - subject of study (tárgy means a physical object)
tananyag - material to be learnt (anyag means material)

there are probably better examples but its almost 6am
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Re: Learners: What's hardest for you?

Postby CoBB » 2010-06-27, 18:33

''' wrote:szent - saint, sacred
megszentséghetetlenségeskedéseitekért - for the things you (pl) have done which have made you unsanctifiable

For some reason I feel hopelessly irritated whenever someone brings up that 'word' as an example, since it is totally meaningless, and you could create infinitely long meaningless words using the same technique. One that actually makes some sense is legeslegmegszentségteleníthetetlenebbeitekeinek ('to those of your most undesecratable ones'), which happens to be longer as well.
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Re: Learners: What's hardest for you?

Postby Kenny » 2010-06-27, 18:40

The longest word I can think of right now and which I actually use is töredezettségmentesítő. (defragmenter)

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Re: Learners: What's hardest for you?

Postby Mutusen » 2010-06-27, 20:01

CoBB wrote:legeslegmegszentségteleníthetetlenebbeitekeinek

Is this a real usable word? Even if it's grammatically correct, if someone used such a word, would you understand it, or would your reaction be “ :shock: Let me think for a few seconds”?
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Re: Learners: What's hardest for you?

Postby Kenny » 2010-06-27, 20:19

To put it bluntly, I don't reckon anyone would EVER say that in real life. Why would they? If not for the sake of showing the flexibility or the "potential" of our language.

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Re: Learners: What's hardest for you?

Postby ''' » 2010-06-27, 21:46

well to quote Steven Fry "hold the news reader's nose squarely, waiter, or friendly milk will countermand my trousers. Perfectly ordinary words, but never before put in that precise order." It is possible in the same way to make giant hungarian words since our words are like your sentences, and it may come to pass that such a word would be used, since these words do all have legitimate meanings it's just very unlikely that you are explaining to a group of people that the things that did which make them unsancifiable are the cause of some new misfortune. In that context however the word megszentséghetetlenségeskedéseitekért becomes very possible although you could also say azért amit tettetek amitől megszenthéghetetlenné váltatok, or something to that effect.
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Re: Learners: What's hardest for you?

Postby mōdgethanc » 2010-06-27, 22:29

Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

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Re: Learners: What's hardest for you?

Postby CoBB » 2010-06-28, 21:45

Mutusen wrote:
CoBB wrote:legeslegmegszentségteleníthetetlenebbeitekeinek

Is this a real usable word? Even if it's grammatically correct, if someone used such a word, would you understand it, or would your reaction be “ :shock: Let me think for a few seconds”?

It’s usable in the sense that it can be understood reasonably fast, yes. Of course it doesn’t really fit in any real-life conversation. ;)

''' wrote:In that context however the word megszentséghetetlenségeskedéseitekért becomes very possible although you could also say azért amit tettetek amitől megszenthéghetetlenné váltatok, or something to that effect.

But the problem is precisely that this isn’t true. It’s not a meaningful word. By the way, you didn’t even get it right, because it should be megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért to be at least syntactically correct.

The common root of the two words is megszentségteleníthetetlen, i.e. undesecratable (it depends on the context whether it means impossible or forbidden to desecrate). Adding -ség, you get megszentségteleníthetetlenség, meaning ‘impossibility/prohibition of desecration’. That’s still a fine and perfectly understandable word. However, if you add -es to this, you get something completely meaningless, and adding even more suffixes certainly won’t cure this. There are several words where -ság/-ség (-ness) is followed by -s (a suffix to convert nouns into related adjectives): magasságos, elégséges, igazságos etc. However, I can’t think of a single one where this combination is preceded by the negating suffix -talan/-telen, and I honestly can’t tell what such a word would mean anyway. Esztelenséges? Ártatlanságos? Képtelenséges? Ihatatlanságos? None of these make any sense, save for sentences specifically constructed to accommodate them.

On the other hand, the word I proposed is simply taking the ‘super-duperlative’ of the above mentioned common root (legesleg--ebb), and filling the standard slots (possessor, possession, case) that follow the stem of any nominal by adding -eitekéinek (I forgot the acute accent in the previous post), ‘to those of your’. There’s no artificial inflation with random derivational suffixes.
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Re: Learners: What's hardest for you?

Postby ''' » 2010-06-28, 22:37

but the -esked- infix DOES make sense, like the -gat- infix e.g. dolgozni, dolgozgatni, and I'm not talking about desecration (megszentségtelenítés) but rather sanctification (megszentségezés) so megszentséghetetlen is that which cannot be sanctified.
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Re: Learners: What's hardest for you?

Postby Kenny » 2010-06-28, 22:41

Sanctification is megszentelés, there's no such thing as "megszentségezés".

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Re: Learners: What's hardest for you?

Postby CoBB » 2010-07-01, 9:08

''' wrote:but the -esked- infix DOES make sense, like the -gat- infix e.g. dolgozni, dolgozgatni, and I'm not talking about desecration (megszentségtelenítés) but rather sanctification (megszentségezés) so megszentséghetetlen is that which cannot be sanctified.

There's no such suffix; that is actually two suffixes: the adjective forming -s followed by -kodik/-kedik/-ködik, which is a suffix to form reflexive verbs. I'd be surprised if you could find a word ending in -s+kVdik that doesn't make sense without the -kVdik part. Also, -ság/-ség can never be followed by -hat/-het, since the former create nouns, while the latter attach to verbs.
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Re: Learners: What's hardest for you?

Postby Meneldil » 2010-07-23, 22:23

CoBB wrote:
Mutusen wrote:
CoBB wrote:legeslegmegszentségteleníthetetlenebbeitekeinek

Is this a real usable word? Even if it's grammatically correct, if someone used such a word, would you understand it, or would your reaction be “ :shock: Let me think for a few seconds”?

It’s usable in the sense that it can be understood reasonably fast, yes. Of course it doesn’t really fit in any real-life conversation. ;)

Csodálatos! :D
De ha arról meggondolkoz egy ember, "megszentségtelenít" már szokásos szó (persze csak amennyiben a "desecrate" is szokásos), és a "-hatatlan", a "legesleg- -ebb" meg a "-eitekéinek" sora mind inflekciós toldalékok vannak (hát, a -hatatlan marginálisan, és azt hiszem magyar grammatikák képzőnek tartják, de mindenesetre tökéletesen termékeny), szóval a Magyaroknak kellenek érthetők lenni :) Engem azonban minden szó az -eitekéinek toldalékokkal telyesen magzavarna :D Az -é toldalék szemantikája eléggé bonyolult, és ilyen öszetett esetekben kellene egy kicsit töprengetnem.

Ha pedig a derivácios toldalékok (képzők) szemléljuk, akkor a benyomásom az, hogy ebből a szempontból a magyar nyelv közelebb az indoeurópaikhoz, és nem annyira hajlandó termékenységnek, amennyire ez hírvert. Ha egy meglepően bonyolult szó veszek észre, akkor ez valószínűleg már a szótárokban meglesz, és nem csak a semmiből létrehozva. És ha a szóképzéset is elvárhatnám volna, akkor se mindig úgy választottak: például mind a hét Harry Potter fordítása fordít "cloak of invisibility" mint "láthatatlanná tevő/tévő köpeny", nem lathatatlanító kopönyként vagy ilyesmi.



@Narbleh:
1. There's a fair number of irregularities - "antiharmonic" roots (applicable to all words), lowering stems (mostly nouns), which include also the shortening stems "" mentioned, stems that loose a vowel, v-stems... but I would describe the irregularities they cause as predictable and easily manageable, so for the most cases you just have to memorize in which group(s) an irregular word falls, and if you get to see a word often in context, that shouldn't be hard, because the most frequent forms (plural, accusative, possessive forms) in most cases tell you exactly how it behaves. Only a handful of nouns are irregular even within their respective groups of irregulars :) (for example lélek (soul), pl. lelkek, and some numbers).
But come to think of it, some of the possessive suffixes have two forms (with or without j), and which to use is in most cases phonologically predictable, but for some cases of word endings it isn't.

2. Verbs are similar: there are irregularities, but they usually form groups, and it usually affects the conjugation in a superficial or trivial manner. For example, some suffixes have variants with or without linking vowels, and it's phonologically conditioned, but there are some verbs which exceptionally fall in the group you wouldn't expect them to. But sometimes it admittedly is more complicated.
There's also the already mentioned group of verbs (inni, hinni, vinni, venni, lenni, tenni, enni) which is definitively irregular, but they all behave in almost the same way, with few exceptions (e.g. 2. sg. of subjunctive - higgy for hinni, and légy for lenni), and van, menni and jönni have some similarities both between themselves, and with the aforementioned group, but all in all they can be considered truly idiosyncratic.

3. Being unfamiliar with them, I can't comment on the dialects, although I guess some differences are considerable. But there is one standard dialect, so for the most part knowing only that shouldn't be a problem.

As for what I personally found most difficult, I'd definitively say vocabulary. There are many loanwords (although many of them are Turkic, so that probably won't exactly help), but the native lexicon is just frighteningly alien :D Other things that are hard to get used to are some points of syntax, like the maddening free-but-not-really word order, or getting used to definite and indefinite conjugation.
Morphology, in which you seem to be interested/worried the most, wasn't particularly difficult, at least not for me. Things like 18 cases may sound intimidating, but the truth is that they could be learned in a couple of hours.
To sum it up: it's not easy, especially if only experience you had is with the Indoeuropean language family, but if you're interested, it's worth it :) Hungarian is a great and fascinating language to learn.

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Re: Learners: What's hardest for you?

Postby mafke » 2010-09-08, 19:56

At the risk of stirring up controversy .... The hardest think for me is dealing with Hungarians.

Don't get me wrong, the majority of people I've tried to use Hungarian with in Hungary are kind and try to understand what I'm trying to say and show a lot of good will despite my mangling of their language. But .... the percentage of jerks who get visibly upset and/or mutter under their breath when my Hungarian isn't up to the task I set for it is ..... let's just say it's higher than in some other countries I've been in. There is also the possibility that their behavior isn't rude in Hungary but simply pushes my buttons (that kind of 'okay in culture X but rude in culture Y' thing is certainly common enough.

Another problem is my Hungarian knowledge is very unbalanced, at my best I could read simple genre literature (not understand every word but understand what's going on). But my speaking/comprehension skills have never been very developed and they unfortunately aren't getting better (since I can't put in as much time with it as I'd like).

I honestly didn't find any particular aspect of Hungarian grammar that hard in itself, just putting them altogether at the same time is hard. In pronunciation I find the distinction between e and é the hardest to make (and a and o the hardest to hear in real time).

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Re: Learners: What's hardest for you?

Postby Levo » 2010-09-09, 18:11

mafke wrote:At the risk of stirring up controversy .... The hardest think for me is dealing with Hungarians.

.... the percentage of jerks who get visibly upset and/or mutter under their breath when my Hungarian isn't up to the task I set for it is ..... let's just say it's higher than in some other countries I've been in. There is also the possibility that their behavior isn't rude in Hungary but simply pushes my buttons (that kind of 'okay in culture X but rude in culture Y' thing is certainly common enough.


I understand you. I lived abroad and now came back home not long ago. I was really shocked at the behaviour of many Hungarians. And just as you wrote, the percentage of those who are rude seems to be surprisingly high. I was also shocked at the low level of communication even between those people I have otherwise always considered more decent and polite compared to others.

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Re: Learners: What's hardest for you?

Postby Kenny » 2010-09-09, 19:50

Yeah, we have a lot of jerks. But just as many nice folks, if not more :). I think it's pretty much the same with most countries, except for the few with only nice/rude people. (an example for the first one would be Finland, don't know about the second one)

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Re: Learners: What's hardest for you?

Postby Bondi » 2010-09-17, 17:25

mafke wrote:At the risk of stirring up controversy .... The hardest think for me is dealing with Hungarians. (...)

Generally, people are filled with cynism. The worst example is when sales-assistants have this attitude. You won't even find any Hungarian who have never had problems or arguments in a shop, restaurant or pub with those people (and their negative remarks) behind the counter.

Regarding the use of language, when I was in Poland and asked for directions, or shopped for a Hungarian-Polish dictionary (which is, rather sadly, non-existent in both Poland and Hungary) with this limited Polish of mine, I never had problems with people not being polite to me. They were always helpful. However, when it came to Polish tourists mistaking me for a local (ha-ha) and asking me about something in Polish, they were too ready to turn away and politely give up on me when I asked them to repeat. :) Which is strange, as up to this day you can't escape knowing a little bit of Polish to get around Poland outside the larger cities - much the same as in Hungary. They are just not used to foreigners speak Polish, and we are not used to foreigners speak Hungarian.

I honestly didn't find any particular aspect of Hungarian grammar that hard in itself, just putting them altogether at the same time is hard. In pronunciation I find the distinction between e and é the hardest to make (and a and o the hardest to hear in real time).

Interesting! :) Polish grammar is quite similar to ours in the logic, i.e. how to form and connect words, even sentences. Still, it's quite hard to put the whole thing together apart from basic sentences, or vice versa, to understand the correct meaning of a complicated sentence. I understand your struggle, and appreciate your effort. :)
(About Polish pronounciation... It is one thing to imitate it, but to hear any real difference between those soft and hard consonants, like ź and ż or ć and cz is totally impossible for a Hungarian...)

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Re: Learners: What's hardest for you?

Postby ''' » 2010-10-01, 2:47

re:polish, can someone tell me whether these are right?

cz - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmaC3mM8 ... re=channel
ć - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcGLksjX ... re=channel

to me cz sounds like a strong /t/
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Re: Learners: What's hardest for you?

Postby Aleco » 2010-11-19, 9:02

I found the ... well particles or what they are hard :hmm: be, meg etc
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Re: Learners: What's hardest for you?

Postby gothwolf » 2010-11-19, 10:19

Aleco wrote:I found the ... well particles or what they are hard :hmm: be, meg etc


I totally agree, especially when you have to decide if the particle is written together with the verb or not. I know the rules but sometimes (or maybe always) I get really confused.
Other hard thing for me is the word order. I know it's free in Hungarian and exactly because of this it's hard for me to put the words into the right way so there will be a logical accent in the sentence.


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