Hungarian is an Ugric language with about 15 million speakers. It is the official language of Hungary and one of the 24 official languages of the European Union. Outside Hungary it is also spoken by communities of Hungarian people in neighboring countries (especially in Romania, Slovakia, and Serbia) and by Hungarian diaspora communities worldwide.

Hungarian is a highly inflected language in which nouns can have up to 238 possible forms. It is related to Mansi, an Ob-Ugric language with about 4,000 speakers who live in the eastern Urals, and Khanty, the other Ob-Ugric language which is spoken by about 15,000 people in the Ob valley of western Siberia.

The first written accounts of Hungarian, mostly personal and place names are dated back to the 10th century. Hungarians also had their own writing system, the Old Hungarian script, but no significant texts remain from that time, as the usual medium of writing, wooden sticks, is perishable. The Kingdom of Hungary was founded in 1000, by Stephen I of Hungary. The country was a western-styled Christian (Roman Catholic) state, and Latin held an important position, as was usual in the middle Ages. The Latin script was adopted to write the Hungarian language and Latin influenced the language. The first extant text fully written in Hungarian is the Funeral Sermon and Prayer, written in the 1190s. The earliest known example of Hungarian religious poetry is the 14th-century Lamentations of Mary.

The first printed Hungarian book was published in Kraków in 1533, by Benedek Komjáti. The work’s title is “The letters of Saint Paul in the Hungarian language”. In the 17th century, the language was already very similar to its present-day form, although two of the past tenses were still used. German, Italian and French loans also appeared in the language by these years. Further Turkish words were borrowed during the Ottoman rule of part of Hungary between 1541 and 1699.

In the 18th century a group of writers, most notably Ferenc Kazinczy, began the process of language renewal. The 19th and 20th centuries saw further standardization of the language, and differences between the mutually comprehensible dialects gradually lessened. In 1920, by signing the Treaty of Trianon, Hungary lost 71% of its territory, and along with these, 33% of the ethnic Hungarian population. Today, the language is official in Hungary, and regionally also in Romania, in Slovakia, in Serbia, in Austria and in Slovenia.


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Hungarian Proverb: “A hazug embert hamarabb utolérik, mint a sánta kutyát.” –

A liar is caught sooner than a lame dog.

Meaning: A lie has short legs.


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French – Hungarian






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