I figure I am now about three weeks into my Hungarian studies. I have made it through the fourth unit of the FSI course and the fifth unit of the DLI course. DLI is still very basic..
“What is that?”
“That is a house.”
“Who is she?”
“She is a soldier…”
However, I am sticking with it because the grammar explanations are so good in the DLI text. Some of my recent favorite words from DLI are
hadnagy – second lieutenant or ensign, which sounds like “hodge-nodge”. I personally couldn’t imagine going up to a lieutenant and calling him a “hodge-nodge”. I also really like katonanő, which literally translates as “soldier-woman”. It sounds tough! I also really like főz ( fewwwwz) which means he/she cooks.
FSI has taken me shopping for suits, dishes, glasses and, of course, cigarettes. You are also taught how to say ,
“ It’s impossible to get the good ones in Pest so you have to go to Vienna to get the good stuff! I’ll grab you some next week when I go!”
“Pesten nehéz kapni. Mi Bécsben szoktunk venni. Jövő héten megyek Bécsbe. Akkor hozok maguknak is. Jo?”
Of course these units are more practical as they were designed for the diplomats who needed to figure out how to get their cigarettes in short order in their new country. The vocabulary is much more intensive as well. I figure, I’m probably up to about 400-500 Hungarian words at this point. I’m not sure how far the military terms will get me though…
I am discovering that one of the more difficult things with Hungarian is the total lack of cognates with English. For example, take the word “airport”. In Spanish you would have an aeropuerto, in French you would have an aeroport , in Italian you would have an aeroporto , in German you would have a Flughafen (which you could probably figure out) , but in Hungarian you have repülőtér! Restaurant is pretty much some derivation of “restaurant” in most languages but in Hungary you would need to look for an étterem. In Hungarian, computer is számítógép, pharmacy is gyógyszertár, bathroom is fürdőszoba (although you could always use the international WC “ve-sze”), police is rendőrség…you get the picture… So, there is no “faking it” in Hungarian as one could get away with in Spanish, “push-la el buttòn, amigo!”
I have had somewhat of a breakthough. I have been listening to some news snippets over the internet in Hungarian over the last few weeks. In the beginning it just sounded like unintelligible, gobbledigook. I took a week off but listened to some stories today. I could actually pick out some words and tell what they were talking about!! I couldn’t understand more than a few words here and there, but that was enough to at least get a gist of the story. Best of all, it didn’t sound like gobbledigook anymore, it sounded like Hungarian!