Hungarian

The Origins and History of The

The Origins and History of The Hungarian Language

The Hungarian language is a Finno-Ugric language that belongs in the Uralic language family branch. Despite its geographical position, the Hungarian language is not similar or even slightly close to any of the neighboring countries’ languages. In fact, it belongs in the same language family as the Finnish and Estonian with its closest relatives being the Mansi and Khanty languages. It is the official language of Hungary and one of the 24 official languages of the European Union.

However, the language is spoken outside the country too by the Hungarian communities abroad. It has around 13 million speakers living in Slovakia, western Ukraine, central and western Romania, northern Serbia, northern Croatia, and northern Slovenia. There’s also a Hungarian diaspora mostly in Canada and the United States where Hungarian is actively spoken by 86,406 according to census.gov.

History of The Hungarian Language

According to linguists, the Hungarian language diverged from its Ugric relatives in the first half of the 1st millennium B.C., in western Siberia. When the Hungarian people changed their lifestyle from being hunters to nomads, they encountered the Iranian nomads which explains the many loanwords from the Iranian language kept until today. Over time, surrounded by non-Uralic languages, Hungarian has also borrowed many other words from other languages it came in contact with like Turkic, Caucasian, Slavic, Latin, and German throughout history. Its phonology and grammar are, however, typically Uralic. Until now, the Hungarian has evolved to be a highly inflected language in which nouns can have up to 238 possible forms.

The Other Language Relations

The Hungarian language is closely related to Mansi, an Ob-Ugric language with about 4,000 speakers who live in the eastern Urals, and Khanty or Ostyak, the other Ob-Ugric language which is spoken by about 15,000 people in the Ob valley of western Siberia.

The Written Language

The earliest recorded text in Hungarian dates back to 1196 and the first complete book to be printed in Hungarian Az zenth Paal leueley magyar nyeluen – The letters of Saint Paul in the Hungarian language – dates back to 1533. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the Hungarian literature flourished.

Since the 13th century AD, Hungarian is written in a modified Latin alphabet with 44 characters. It had its orthography stabilized from the 16th century with the introduction of printing. What is different in the Hungarian language from the rest of the Latin alphabet are the acute accent which marks long vowels and the special representations for sibilant sounds e.g., sz corresponds to English s, but s corresponds to English sh.

Good To Know

  • There are 14 vowels in the Hungarian, compared to the 5 in English and most of the other languages.
  • The word order in the sentences is flexible.
  • The longest word has 44 letters, but being an agglutinative language, words can be even longer with the addition of various grammatical components such as affixes and stems.
  • All languages evolve and change over time, but Hungarian has kept impressive 68% of its original words. Compared to this English has kept only 4%.
  • Names are back to front. When introducing yourself in Hungary, your given name is always stated after your surname no matter where or to whom you say it.

ULS Services in Hungarian

At United Language Services we work with a wide array of certified professional translators and interpreters that have mastered the Hungarian language in all its forms. So if you need translation, interpretation, localization, or transcription of the language, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Language

The Hungarian language is a Finno-Ugric language that belongs in the Uralic language family branch. Despite its geographical position, the Hungarian language is not similar or even slightly close to any of the neighboring countries’ languages. In fact, it belongs in the same language family as the Finnish and Estonian with its closest relatives being the Mansi and Khanty languages. It is the official language of Hungary and one of the 24 official languages of the European Union.

However, the language is spoken outside the country too by the Hungarian communities abroad. It has around 13 million speakers living in Slovakia, western Ukraine, central and western Romania, northern Serbia, northern Croatia, and northern Slovenia. There’s also a Hungarian diaspora mostly in Canada and the United States where Hungarian is actively spoken by 86,406 according to census.gov.

History of The Hungarian Language

According to linguists, the Hungarian language diverged from its Ugric relatives in the first half of the 1st millennium B.C., in western Siberia. When the Hungarian people changed their lifestyle from being hunters to nomads, they encountered the Iranian nomads which explains the many loanwords from the Iranian language kept until today. Over time, surrounded by non-Uralic languages, Hungarian has also borrowed many other words from other languages it came in contact with like Turkic, Caucasian, Slavic, Latin, and German throughout history. Its phonology and grammar are, however, typically Uralic. Until now, the Hungarian has evolved to be a highly inflected language in which nouns can have up to 238 possible forms.

The Other Language Relations

The Hungarian language is closely related to Mansi, an Ob-Ugric language with about 4,000 speakers who live in the eastern Urals, and Khanty or Ostyak, the other Ob-Ugric language which is spoken by about 15,000 people in the Ob valley of western Siberia.

The Written Language

The earliest recorded text in Hungarian dates back to 1196 and the first complete book to be printed in Hungarian Az zenth Paal leueley magyar nyeluen – The letters of Saint Paul in the Hungarian language – dates back to 1533. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the Hungarian literature flourished.

Since the 13th century AD, Hungarian is written in a modified Latin alphabet with 44 characters. It had its orthography stabilized from the 16th century with the introduction of printing. What is different in the Hungarian language from the rest of the Latin alphabet are the acute accent which marks long vowels and the special representations for sibilant sounds e.g., sz corresponds to English s, but s corresponds to English sh.

Good To Know

  • There are 14 vowels in the Hungarian, compared to the 5 in English and most of the other languages.
  • The word order in the sentences is flexible.
  • The longest word has 44 letters, but being an agglutinative language, words can be even longer with the addition of various grammatical components such as affixes and stems.
  • All languages evolve and change over time, but Hungarian has kept impressive 68% of its original words. Compared to this English has kept only 4%.
  • Names are back to front. When introducing yourself in Hungary, your given name is always stated after your surname no matter where or to whom you say it.

ULS Services in Hungarian

At United Language Services we work with a wide array of certified professional translators and interpreters that have mastered the Hungarian language in all its forms. So if you need translation, interpretation, localization, or transcription of the language, please do not hesitate to contact us.