Anyone learning Hungarian?

Hi everyone! I’m Maria and I’m trying to learn Hungarian! Szeretem a magyar nyelvet :slight_smile:
Of course I know I’m not the only one, so I thought I’d ask about it
What courses do you follow on Memrise for Hungarian? What’s your biggest difficulty? Would you like to practice with me? This is a topic for all things Hungarian :slight_smile:

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Az az anyanyelven. Segíthetek?

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Szia! Igen, nagyon örülnék ha tudnál segíteni! Köszönöm! :))

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Hey anyone interested in teaching Hungarian in exchange for English, French or Polish are welcome to contacting me regarding this matter. I’m looking for a regular lessons in Hungarian. In return I can teach you languages I mentioned above. FYI I am a beginner in Hungarian.

I’m in the process of making a course following Duolingo’s vocabulary for Hungarian. It’s the first Memrise course I’ve made, so there are probably a few things to work out, but maybe it could help.

I am a native Hungarian, maybe I could help you. I don’t expect munch in return. I was learning some Franch a for a while, but I quit because I am focusing on other Languages. Maybe we could work something out. English to be the link, I write on HU, you on FR.

Sure, I think this could work. I’m new to the forum, so I am still figuring out how it works. How would you like the conversations to take place?

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Since you are new, are you able to write personal messages yet?

my god! it is hard to learn Hungarian vocab with Memrise… each creator her/his own idea about tiszta being “clean” or “clear” (it means both), most of the courses made for English speakers did not decide yet if fiú means “boy” or “young” (not so the German ones :grin:) etc etc etc

some want Jó napot kívánok for good day, some Jó napot and some even want jó reggelt… no synonyms in the majority of the courses, one would think Magyar has no synonyms at all according to most course creators…

Tiszta can be Clean and clear as well.
Fiú is a boy, probably a child. Ifjú means young (adj) and it can also mean young man, probably adolescent . At least where I live.
Jó napot! - good day, hello
Jó reggelt! - good morning
Jó estét! - good evening
Jó éjszakát! - good night
Csókolom! -greeting to an elder person

Jó napot kívánok ! Means: I WISH you a good day. Basically the same as the shorter version, just a little bit politer!
They don’t want to frighten you with synonyms… :blush:

thanks @Andrea_Mo3, I knew what those words mean… I do speak some very “feeble” Hugarian, need to power it up. What I wanted to convey: it seems that there are very few Hungarian courses are made with help of natives or advanced speakers…

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That’s the the thing with this user-made courses. Their quality is questionable.
Even if it’s my native, I find it a very hard language.

I’m not learning Hungarian at the moment, so I’m sorry I can’t help you directly right now. (Actually, as Andrea_Mo3 says, the best help you’d get would be from a native speaker - which I’m not).

I did work really hard on learning Hungarian, and then lived in Budapest for a while, speaking Hungarian as much as I could (badly :stuck_out_tongue:), so I hope I can say some things which might be helpful.

I found the tougher-looking, more “grammar-y” courses really useful. I don’t think that’s just my learning style (I like to try to understand why phrases work the way they do - for example, why “jó napoT” and not “jó nap”? It’s the accusative (the hardest case in Hungarian for foreigners IMHO, because it’s so irregular) from the “missed out” verb “kívánok”).

I think Hungarian has such a systematic grammar, which is a very powerful part of the language, and includes building huge structures of meaning onto a basic word, that it’s very difficult for a foreigner to even get their bearings in the language without knowing how the system works. For a foreigner, breaking down words is the only way to get some idea of what’s going on. Here are some words I randomly scraped from 444:

segítséggel (segíteni + -ség + -val/-vel)
visszaszerezték (vissza- + szerezni + past definite “they” conjugation)
területeket (terület + plural -ek + accusative + -et)

(OK, not entirely random, these are some of the words I can understand without thinking too hard :dizzy_face:).

It’s a wonderful feeling (more common when reading than hearing, of course) when you encounter something impossible-looking, but then break it down into a quite familiar, basic word, disguised in the powerful many-layered wizard-clothes of Hungarian suffixes that give it its special spin of meaning in the sentence (but don’t even get me started on what Hungarian word order adds to this… :confused:). Of course, the logical meaning of the word you know plus the “standard” meaning of the case-suffixes and possessive suffixes might add up, colloquially, to something completely different from what you expect…

I think Memrise and Hungarian make quite an awkward combination. Memrise is an extremely effective way to memorise set, definite words and phrases. But that tells you nothing about how to recognise the things you do know out of a stream of Hungarian: a language which riotously couples words and suffixes together, and then re-arranges the words into different orders in a sentence to make a particular meaning - with a freedom that makes German look completely predictable and formulaic.

The easiness of Memrise, especially in introducing you to a language, can also make you assume a culture of easy-language in the native speakers. I think this works well with English, French or German, for example, because many people try to learn these languages, and so English-speaking, French-speaking (outside Paris :smiling_imp:) and German-speaking people are in some way used to hearing their language spoken badly, haltingly, basically, or with a weird accent, and can adapt to speak more simply with a foreigner. In my experience, Hungarians just don’t know how to do that - simply because hardly anyone learns Hungarian unless they’re a native speaker or partial native speaker (e.g. people with a Hungarian parent or parents who grew up outside Hungary).

I don’t mean that Hungarians are hostile to bad Hungarian speakers in the least - quite the opposite: a big satisfaction from trying to learn this language is that people appreciate that you bothered to (and, sometimes, there’s the big rush of helping someone out, e.g. with directions on the street, and passing as a competent speaker). I just think that there isn’t an established “simple pidgin Hungarian” for native speakers to switch into when they hear someone struggling with the language, so neither of you know what to do - apart from breaking out into English or German.

So don’t expect those big ticks and encouragements from Memrise because you’ve learned your words well to translate into a lot of great feedback and confidence in Hungary. You’re likely to remain a far better speaker in potential than you feel you are in actuality, and to undervalue what you’ve learned. You’ll need a lot of self-confidence (and, in Budapest at least, insistence on studying further and sticking to Hungarian rather than switching to English or German, which many people know and want to practise). Even learning the basics of Hungarian is a pretty big achievement.

Hungarian is not rated one of the hardest languages in the world for nothing: for a start, it’s completely different from other European languages in its grammatical structure and vocabulary (so much that recognising an adapted English, German or Slavic word, outside business or technical fields, feels like a comfortable surprise). It’s also an incredibly powerful, succinct language, which can put things into four words that take twenty in other languages, and when spoken or written well is extremely beautiful.

I think that to use Memrise for Hungarian you have to play to Memrise’s strengths and accept its weaknesses. For a start, take Memrise’s relentless positivity with a big pinch of salt. It’s a great way to help you to learn, and you will learn thanks to it, but don’t let it fool you into thinking that Memrise (or anything) can “make Hungarian easy”. I think Memrise really can make things easy, but Hungarian is a tough nut to crack and no learning method can make it easy (though I got a lot out of LiveMocha’s native-speaker hookups while it was still free-to-use - a random extremely helpful guy from Szabadka hearing my recordings of phrases, telling me in Hungarian what I’d got wrong and then reading them back properly).

Go for the vocabulary-building, without worrying too much about whether a particular course-builder decided that “tiszta” means clean, clear, wholly, or utter (as in “tiszta lófasz” :smile:). Memrise is annoying like that, when you have to remember what meaning a particular course decided was the right one for a word. But you can also just Ignore particular words if they bug you. And go for the grammatical courses, because that’s something Memrise is very good for. It may seem boring, but if you can say and recognise common verbs in their most usual forms Definite, Indefinite, then you’ve got a good start on deciphering more complicated sentences, because some of the words will be familiar to you. The seemingly endless lists you learn on these courses might seem completely nonsensical - “when would I ever use this?” - but ramming endless lists of seemingly meaningless words into your memory, so that at worst they’re just beyond your recall, is something the Memrise method is remarkably good at.

I agree with Andrea_Mo3 that there’s not much Hungarian material on Memrise (so little that for something I wanted to learn, I made my own course (3rd hyperlink not allowed); and nothing at all by native speakers. So while Memrise can be helpful, I think that to learn Hungarian you need other resources as well: particularly hookups with native speakers who are willing to do a language-swap. And there’s a culture of making things easy with useful phrases, which Memrise encourages as part of its offering - but beyond a few basic phrases, Hungarian is a very difficult language to learn, which sort of goes against the grain of that culture.


As a native speaker, I am touched beyond words. I don’t think I have ever heard (or read) anyone show such evident fascination with and enthusiasm for the language I speak (and work with on a daily basis). Also your observation is painfully spot on about Hungarians having no idea how to speak with a language learner.

Nagyon köszönöm.


The Problem has nothing to do with ‘courses of non-native speakers’ are bad. Native-speakers would have the same problems. It just depends on how many words you know for each word. You can’t expect every single correct answer in the correct answer list. You can just make the english side more precise about the context or add additional information to sort out possible correct word-by-word translations that now fall out because they are not correct in the given context.

A clever option for this problem with ‘which exact word is the course creator looking for’ is making a short mem with this information. But I think there is no problem that not every word has every possible solution in the correct answers. You are also asked normally in the english > hungarian direction so there is no difference if it is asked for clean, or clear for tiszta (except that clear can also be világos), but this you can add to you personal ‘clear’-mem with a info like (not világos). The more words you know the more problems like this you will find.

I personally started in my courses to add additional information to make it more clearer. like the before mentioned ‘clear (not világos)’ on the english side.

More annoying is when course creators are lazy (or just don’t know better that it isn’t clear) and ask for words like ‘liquid’ without any further information and you don’t know if it now the adjective ‘folyékony’ or the noun ‘folyadék’ and things like that. And this has nothing to do if you are a native or not. Of course you know it in the first days after you learned this word that it is asked for folyékony if you read liquid and you will probably don’t even know where the problem is until you learned the word folyadék.

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And világos can mean clear and bright. So…yes! Course creating can be tricky!

i was totally frustrated by the multiple meanings of various words. In my courses I always provide a hint, usually the first letter or so, to make sure that you know what word will be the “correct” answer. For example, there are several words that correspond to OLD… régi, idős, öreg, vén so if the word that is being tested is ÖREG, my course will have ÖREG / OLD (ö,). You can recognize my courses, they are the ones with the photo of the traditional Hungarian gatepost (eg, 1000 words part 1 and part 2)

I don’t like these direct hints, because it makes it too easy and therefore the learning process bad because often you probably just know words because of the hint. It isn’t just that easy to write just “old” you have to add additional information. vén has for example a bad attitude and and is for old fragile people. régi is for objects. idős is for people and has a little bit poetical touch which somehow also includes experience. öreg is just old.
And there is also the ó that also means old.

Hungarian isn’t that simple that you can just ask for ‘old’.
This is especially true for verbs.
with all the optional endings like - +gat/get, +oz/ez/öz,+kedni/kezni +dögél/dogál + ászni/észni +dosni/desni and so many more, which add sometimes just a little difference to the main verb, and which you can’T of course put after each verb.
So Information like how often or with which intensity the action was done, or often adds feelings to the actions or a negative touch like tanulgatni (to learn here and then a bit but beeing for example mostly on facebook and not really learning) or like üldögélni - from to sit, but it also means to sit around, waiting for someone that probably won’t come or forgot you.

That is also what makes the hungarian language so hard, because every situation requires different words.
And since the people you speak hungarian to, are probably almost all native speakers, they know the differences and could probably correct every sentence a bit.

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no, you are not just writing OLD, as a student you are not entering english
words as an answer. instead , you are given as the question " OLD (v…)“
and you are required to answer VÉN. Next time it is " OLD (r…)” and
the answer is RÉGI. Since there is rarely a one-to-one correspondence
between the Hungarian and the English equivalent,the course writer has to
give some kind of info about what the answer is for this particular
question. if you just have BUTTERFLY and expect someone to answer
LEPKE, they will be frustrated if they answer PILLANGÓ. You need to
phrase the question as “BUTTERFLY (L…)”, otherwise you are just
creating anger in the learner, because PILLANGÓ is just as right as the
answer you are demanding, and so the program tells the student that the
answer is wrong, when in fact it is not wrong.

of course i know how you mean your hints with the starting letters and about the anger when the answer is correct but marked as wrong because the question was just bad.

But every direct hint is bad for the learning process. So hints like ‘not pillangó’ are more effective because you also connect the words better together that are similar.
And for your butterfly example, lepke is just the cute form of lepidoptera which is the scientific name of these insects.
So this could be information you can add instead of L…

Or give as a hint the last letter that makes you think more. But giving the first letter is just too much information. Everything that is too easy won’t help you.

And finding the correct word should also not be the goal. The goal is to learn the word, it’s meaning and even better it’s usage. Just because ‘vén’ is also somehow old, doesn’t help you too much. Because it would be totally rude to say to an older person vén.