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!)


6 thoughts on “Six Weeks! / Hat hét!

  1. Már nem kell sokat fejlődnöd, és lassan kezdhetsz magyar nyelvű könyveket olvasni 🙂 Szerencsére nekem nem kellett megtanulnom magyarul, de gondolom sokat segítenek majd neked is.

    Sok sikert.

    You’ll get the hang of it very soon 😉

  2. Elnezve, hogy egy kulfoldinek milyen lehet megtanulni a magyar nyelvet…, hat eleg hardcore feladatnak tunik :).
    Mindenesetre nagyon sok sikert kivanok es csak igy tovabb!!

    (Bocs, nincs ekezetem, mert En meg Irorszagbol irom soraimat:))

  3. Hmm, it’s strange what you said about Spanish above. I started to learn this language 4 weeks ago and I reckon this is one of the easiest language to learn. After 4 weeks I can have basic conversation, even in past tense and I can understand quite a lot from different movies. For me Greek seems hard. How long did it take for you to be able to speak Greek?

    • I think the fact that most Americans can’t speak Spanish after 4 weeks is due to the dismal state of language instruction in this country more than anything. It is really poor in my opinion. Take my wife and my family members for example. They all took 4 years of Spanish in US high schools and can’t say or understand a single thing in Spanish!!

      Obviously motivation is also a factor as well. If a person is not motivated to learn a language, 100 years of instruction wont teach them anything!

      Kudos to you though for being able to understand Spanish movies after 4 weeks! That’s pretty impressive even for a gifted language learner!!

      Keep it up!

      I found Greek a bit harder than Spanish due to its cases and inflections, but I found Greek vocabulary mercifully easy! There are SO many words in English with Greek word roots and most Medical vocabulary ( my day job 🙂 ) derives from Greek! I could hold a very basic conversation and understand Greek TV after about 6-8 months… but I didn’t study Greek with the alacrity I am taking on Magyarul with.

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