See also the corresponding artice on Wikipedia.
The alphabet[edit | edit source]
- Some consonants look like two (or three) English symbols and represent a single Hungarian letter.
- Long vs. short
- The alphabet lists all the short and long vowels, but not the long consonants. Nonetheless each letter has a long variant, which alters the meaning of the word. Long vowels are indicated by acute (ˊ) or double acute (˝) -- the only diacritic in Hungarian. Long simple consonants are written doubled (fusson); long digraph consonants have only their first letter doubled (messze). Thus, long digraphs are written as followed:
- ccs (=cs+cs), ddz (=dz+dz), ddzs (=dzs+dzs), ggy (=gy+gy), lly (=ly+ly), nny (=ny+ny), ssz (=sz+sz), tty (=ty+ty), zzs (=zs+zs)
- unless they are cut from each other at the end of the line, in which case they are written separately (vissza → visz-sza). It may happen that two identical digraph consonants meet in a compound word on the roots' boundary, but from grammatical view that is not a long consonant and is written accordingly (lánynyak).
- Foreign letters
- Note that there are no q, w and x letters in the (official) Hungarian alphabet because they do not occur in native Hungarian words. Also there is no y letter on its own, but it occurs in digraphs gy, ly, ny and ty. In exceptional cases, unusual letters may occur in Hungarian words, such as the x in Xénia (name), or ch in pech (=hard luck) being a single letter pronounced as in German. Other similar words, such as szex (=sexuality, sexual intercourse), are widely spread and used, but they eventually have their own translation without foreign letters.
- When sorting words alphabetically, diacritic is not taken into account, unless it is the only difference between the two words, in which case the acute comes later. For example: kád, kar, kár, kor, kór, kos, kör are alphabetically sorted. Long consonants are treated like two short ones, and digraphs are taken into account. For example: egzotikus, egyéb, lócukor, loccsan, locsog are alphabetically sorted. Note that distinct consonants may accidentally look (and may or may not sound) like digraphs, but those are treated as separate letters when sorting.
Pronunciation[edit | edit source]
Vowels[edit | edit source]
|a||ɒ||like a in car but shorter||á||aː||like a in the German "guten Tag"|
|e||ɛ||like a in man||é||eː||like é in the French enchanté but longer|
|i||i||like i in gift||í||iː||like ea in please|
|o||o||like o in no||ó||oː||like oo in door|
|ö||ø||like eu in the French bleu||ő||øː||like ö in the German schön|
|u||u||like u in put||ú||uː||like oo in cool|
|ü||y||like ü in the German über||ű||yː||like üh in the German Führer|
The pronunciation of a vs. á and e vs. é noticeably differ from each other, while the others only differ in duration.
Vowels in groups like ie, eu etc. are always pronounced independently.
Consonants[edit | edit source]
The letters j and ly are pronounced exactly the same. The latter is less common. There is no general rule by which the spelling of an unknown word containing j or ly could be deduced.
It is not unusual that a simple consonant is accidentally followed by such a digraph that it looks like a long digraph (meggyón, vasszeg). In that case the pronunciation may and may not be affected.
Stress[edit | edit source]
Primary stress is always on the first syllable of a word. Elongated vowels in non-initial syllables can also seem to be stressed to the ear of an English speaker, since length and stress correlate in English.
Footnotes[edit | edit source]
- The Slovak language, for example, has two long consonants ĺ and ŕ and the alphabet explicitly lists them.
- I believe that the number of generally accepted words containing x is comparable to the number of words containing dz or dzs.
- Even though I've seen a dictionary which took kör before kos.
- I took ɛ from phonetic transcriptions on Wikipedia and Wiktionary. It is important to notice that the e/é from Slavic languages and the Spanish and Italian e (which are sometimes noted ɛ too) are clearly between the Hungarian short e and long é.