Monday, September 28, 2015

A Little Hungarian Lesson

Happy Fall, y'all!!

We've been back to school here in Romania for the last two weeks, and we've had a great time restarting English classes and all of our other year-round ministry activities that took a break in the summer months.  The weather's turned cold and grey, and with the wind blowing and leaves changing, it really feels like fall.  Last week, I got to celebrate my birthday in Romania for the second year in a row!  Paul did an incredible job making me feel special, bringing home fresh flowers and preparing an unforgettable Greek birthday feast for two.  This past weekend, we were excitedly preparing for some very special guests: my parents!  They will arrive this week, and it's their first ever trip to Romania since I've been traveling here for the last 8 years. We absolutely cannot wait!

In the spirit of getting back to school, I thought we'd do something a little different this week.  I want to share a little language lesson with all of you!  For our Hungarian friends in Romania and Hungary, this will be your chance to correct me if I'm wrong about something :) For our English-speaking friends in other parts of the world, here's a little taste of what Paul and I have experienced while learning Hungarian (thanks to Orsi for this amazing graphic!):

And while we've got you laughing, here's the very first thing I was told about the Hungarian language by a Hungarian friend I met in 2008: "Did you know Hungarian is the language of heaven?  Because it takes an eternity to learn!" At the time, I wasn't able to appreciate just how true this little joke has turned out to be!

Hungarian is not a latin language like Romanian is (along with Spanish, French, Italian, etc.).  It's not a Slavic language like Russian, Czech or Polish.  It's not an Indo-European language at all, instead belonging to the Uralic family of languages (like Finnish and Estonian).  Practically speaking, this basically means that we, as American English-speakers, don't see or hear familiar words or parts of words almost at all in Hungarian, except for some of the most modern words or words that are actually taken from English/popular culture.  Want to see what I mean??  Take a look at some of these Hungarian basics:


Jó napot - "Yo nah-poht" Good day
Jó reggelt - "Yo reh-gelt" Good morning
Jó estét - "Yo esh-tate" Good evening
Jó éjszakát - "Yo ay-sa-kaht" Goodnight

Szia - "See-yah" Hi
Viszontlátásra - "Vee-sont-laa-taash-rah" Goodbye

Hogy vagy? - "Hoydge-vahdge" How are you?
Jól vagyok - "Yol vahdge-yoke" I'm well

The Basics

Igen - "ee-gen" (g like in "gate") Yes
Nem - "nehm" No

Köszönöm - "Køsønøm" (Click here for pronunciation) Thank you
Szívesen - "See-vesh-en" You're welcome

The numbers

1  egy
2  kettő
3  három
4  négy
5  öt
6  hat
7  hét
8  nyolc
9  kilenc
10  tíz

Phrases we find ourselves saying a lot

Finom - Delicious!
Nem tudom - I don't know
Americaiak vagyunk, de itt Romániában lakunk. - We are American, but we live here in Romania.
Isten áldjon meg - God bless you (How we greet older people in our churches)
Békeséget - Peace (How we greet church friends in Apalina)

Ok, I think that's enough for now!  Is your head spinning yet??  We're not kidding when we say Hungarian is not an easy language, but Paul and I have both grown to love it.  We've even found that our Hungarian is starting to rub off on our English a little bit!  Lately I've been accidentally constructing sentences in English using Hungarian structures (For example, in English the other day I said "Understand!" instead of "I understand!" because "I understand" in Hungarian is just one word, "Értem.").  While I know I still have a long way to go before I feel like I've mastered this language, all of the hard works pays off when we're communicating better and better with our students, friends and loved ones in their own language.

Szép napot! (Have a nice day!)


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