Six Weeks! / Hat hét!

" Lest not the rabbit have a gun"

Roughly translated " Lest not the rabbit have a gun"

Six weeks into attacking a magyar nyelv, the language of Hungary.

Six Units of FSI down.

Six Units of DLI down.

I was starting to get pretty frustrated with my self-assessed lack of progress.  I still can only understand every sixth or seventh word in Hungarian podcasts, I struggle to come up with words and translations with the FSI exercises and I still have trouble understanding what my Hungarian friend at work says to me.  She has to say things three or four times interspersed with my nem értem, nem értem, nem értem!” ( I don’t understand you!).  But, Holy Cow?!?!!!   Six weeks!!

I’ve only been doing this for six weeks and my vocabulary is up to 600 or 700 words.  I can at least get the general gist of Hungarian podcasts.  I can hold a basic conversation  with a Hungarian speaker.

Thinking back to when I took Spanish in school, six weeks in we were still learning  “como està usted?” and “mi nombre es…”. We couldn’t conduct more than a very basic conversation if at all.  Heck, most people I know that took four years of Spanish in school still can’t hold a conversation in Spanish!

So looking back, I’m pretty happy with my progress.  I think my biggest impediment is still vocabulary.  Fluency in a language requires 5000-7000 words.  I clearly have a long way to go.  But hey?!?  I’m nearly 20% there!    Hopefully by next spring I can get up to 2000-3000.

A new trick that I have been trying is to use Google-Translate to translate my e-mails and web pages into Hungarian.  The great thing about it is that I can hover over an unknown word in Hungarian and it will give me the English word immediately.  No hunting for every other word in a dictionary any more!  What a great tool.

Hungarian grammar continues to throw in some intricacies and peculiarities.  For example; I recently learned how most verbs in Hungarian have two different forms; the definite and the indefinite.  Each has its various rules and guidelines as to how and when to use each specific one.   As it seems to me, it comes down to being specific vs. being vague.  If I wanted to say “I see THE book”  I would say Látom a könyvet(definite) but “ I see A book” would be Látok egy könyvet(indefinite).

Possession in Hungarian is indicated by, you guessed it, suffixes!  Rather than saying my book, your book, his book, their book etc., suffixes are added which have a multitude of rules governed by vowel harmony, adding or not adding j’s or a’s and so on… Very similar to Turkish, which I have studied previously.  For anyone who is interested, here is an example table that I took from the Wikipedia page on Hungarian Grammar: .

Singular Plural
1st person -om/(-am)/-em/-öm/-m

az (én) lakásom

my flat /apartment


a (mi) lakásunk

our flat /apartment

2nd person (informal) -od/(-ad)/-ed/-öd/-d

a (te) lakásod

your (singular) flat /apartment


a (ti) lakásotok

your (plural) flat /apartment

3rd person


2nd person (formal or official)


a(z ő) lakása

his/her/its flat /apartment

a(z ön) lakása

your (formal) flat /apartment


a(z ő) lakásuk

their flat/apartment

a lakásuk / az önök lakása (!)

your (fml, pl) flat/apt.

Viszlát jövő héten! (see you next week!)