Language barriers in Hungary

Hello,

Learning a new language is a part of the expat process. Let's find out how crucial it is to know the language in Hungary.

What is the official language in Hungary, and what are the other popular spoken languages?

Is it possible to live in Hungary and get by without speaking the language?

How do you manage to communicate with the locals if you don't speak the native/official language fluently?

What are some popular and useful phrases that expats absolutely need to know?

Can you share some tips about how to survive in Hungary on a daily basis without speaking the language?

Thank you for sharing your experience.

Priscilla

A large barrier is Hungarian.... :)

The second barrier is if you have even the slightest accent (which we all do), then you may not be understood even if you know the language. Which is why I often don't even bother trying to speak Hungarian, even when I could.

Personally, I use a translator to communicate with offices here. Either my wife (English to Hungarian) or my father-in-law (German to Hungarian). But it is a selfish life style, relying on others like that. In all other cases, I just point a lot. Things get by.

Yes, one can live here not speaking the language. The less you know the language, the more you will live as an introvert, or in an expat bubble, with a limited number of contacts that only speak your language. But when things "go wrong" (e.g. what was the official letter I got yesterday telling me???) then you may be in a bit of a pickle.

As I have mentioned before, the best words to know are the basics: Beer, Bread, and Water. The essentials of life. :)

So true, I also rely on my Hungarian husband for the"big stuff".
It's,"cute" to learn a few HU words but if you live here long term you will realize you are in a bubble and not really living the HU way or really understanding allot of the culture that you would if you knew what the heck people were saying.
I have learned to shop alone for the most part, for food items at least.
I can be a bit of an extrovert with using hand signals and looking silly trying to communicate but many people would feel dumb or silly going to extremes for a kilo of grapes or whatever.
Just this morning I had words with my husband because of the language differences.
I changed my password on my notebook, actually he changed it for me last night and I wrote down exactly what the new code would be.
This morning when I tried to sign in it didn't work.
Tried and tried, then had to call him over to see what was wrong once again.
Seems he had spelled a word from memory and didn't look at what i had written down.
He spelled it like a Hungarian would and not an American.
Yesterday we had to go to a copy shop to download some info on paper, we don't have a printer at home.
First shop couldn't help us, told us we had a virus, Went exactly 20 feet away to another copy shop where the young man helped us make a copy after we tired and tried on their English computer. Well who would of known that their computers were UK style letters and not American style on the keyboard, I never knew they would be different.
Had to ask for so much help, no virus the previous shop employee was just lazy to help us.
We tipped the guy for his time, took about 15 mins to get something done that should of taken 2 mins.
Gets frustrating at times.
Years back I really wanted to learn more HU. All our HU friends in the US thought it would be "funny"to teach me rough nasty expressions.
I learned a phrase and thought they were teaching me something nice to say to my husband.
I said these sweet words to my husband and his jaw dropped.
He asked who was teaching me such garbage, two young HU ladies did that, after I got them both jobs....
Oh well, the laugh was on me that time.
A phrase I'll never forget ever....
Have to take a chill pill or learn to relax here and not be in a rush to get anything serious done.

Marilyn Tassy :

So true, I also rely on my Hungarian husband for the"big stuff".
It's,"cute" to learn a few HU words but if you live here long term you will realize you are in a bubble and not really living the HU way or really understanding allot of the culture that you would if you knew what the heck people were saying.
I have learned to shop alone for the most part, for food items at least.
I can be a bit of an extrovert with using hand signals and looking silly trying to communicate but many people would feel dumb or silly going to extremes for a kilo of grapes or whatever.
Just this morning I had words with my husband because of the language differences.
I changed my password on my notebook, actually he changed it for me last night and I wrote down exactly what the new code would be.
This morning when I tried to sign in it didn't work.
Tried and tried, then had to call him over to see what was wrong once again.
Seems he had spelled a word from memory and didn't look at what i had written down.
He spelled it like a Hungarian would and not an American.
Yesterday we had to go to a copy shop to download some info on paper, we don't have a printer at home.
First shop couldn't help us, told us we had a virus, Went exactly 20 feet away to another copy shop where the young man helped us make a copy after we tired and tried on their English computer. Well who would of known that their computers were UK style letters and not American style on the keyboard, I never knew they would be different.
....

I am not surprised it was the UK layout.

Keyboards are a nightmare for all sorts of reasons.  But physically there's nothing different between any of them.  It's the writing on the key tops which are different and the setting in the operating system (i.e. Windows).  Windows supports many languages. So long as you don't look too hard at the keys, it's possible to type by just setting the language in the language bar (bottom right, if enabled).   It's a soft setting.

The worst keyboard use is rumoured to be the French keyboard but I've always been baffled by the Russian one.  Arabic is quite weird as well and odd to see - type right to left, then insert a date Western style which goes left to right, and then back to right to left. Just strange!   Who knows how the Chinese or Japanese ones work but I've seen a guy typing in Korean and that's almost as odd.  One has to remember keystroke combinations to get the right characters up.   But it's what you're used to. 

Hungarian keyboards are annoying - they don't have the 0 (zero) which just seems ludicrous to me.  I usually see Hungarian documents with O (letter O) replacing the zeros which just is yucky.

English and US keyboards settings are easy.  Most European technicians will be able to use both without too much problem as they are used to it since English is used "under" the language interface you see on screen.  US technicians I doubt would find it quite as simple with a foreign keyboard.

But you can easily recognise quickly the different layouts by looking at the 3 and 4 keys above the letter keys.   The UK ones have a £ sign over the 3 and on the 4 key with the $, there's also a Euro - € - symbol.   There are other differences but  none of them matter  much if you type without looking at the keyboard and you are typing a simple e-mail or a letter.

Marilyn Tassy :

Years back I really wanted to learn more HU. All our HU friends in the US thought it would be "funny"to teach me rough nasty expressions.

Hm.... "Friends".

My wife refuses to teach me any colorful Hungarian expressions. She did teach me words for "beautiful" (gyönyörű) and "pretty" (szép). But I can still not properly pronounce gyönyörű; not a chance. So I use szép, even if it not always the "correct" word to use. A man must accept his limitations and hope others do as well. :)

klsallee :
Marilyn Tassy :

Years back I really wanted to learn more HU. All our HU friends in the US thought it would be "funny"to teach me rough nasty expressions.

Hm.... "Friends".

My wife refuses to teach me any colorful Hungarian expressions. She did teach me words for "beautiful" (gyönyörű) and "pretty" (szép). But I can still not properly pronounce gyönyörű; not a chance. So I use szép, even if it not always the "correct" word to use. A man must accept his limitations and hope others do as well. :)

Seems like we are in the same boat!
I have moved on , no longer really interested in learning which is sort of a cop out on my part but dang, the old brain ain't what it used to be.
What bugs the living heck out of me is in the US I worked with the public and believe me I'v suffered through my share of listening to odd accents and mispronounced words over time.
My ears have been strained many times but I never got a rude attitude towards the person who couldn't be understood.
In Hungary I find people have no patience with foreign speakers which gets my goat so to speak.

klsallee :
Marilyn Tassy :

Years back I really wanted to learn more HU. All our HU friends in the US thought it would be "funny"to teach me rough nasty expressions.

Hm.... "Friends".

My wife refuses to teach me any colorful Hungarian expressions. She did teach me words for "beautiful" (gyönyörű) and "pretty" (szép). But I can still not properly pronounce gyönyörű; not a chance. So I use szép, even if it not always the "correct" word to use. A man must accept his limitations and hope others do as well. :)

Your other half is very wise. 

"szép" I use as well. 

The other, bah, humbug.  Don't get me started on szépség.

When I came here on a job the first time, my Hungarian colleagues taught me all sorts of bad expressions. I nearly ran a guy over in the centre of Budapest (well, he might have been trying to commit suicide by crossing against the green walk sign) and he shouted at me in Hungarian. I was actually impressed with myself that I understood what he said to me.

But I defer to some guy called Kimball who said, "Profanity is the effort of a feeble brain to express itself forcibly". 

I'm trying to tell my kids to try and express themselves more intelligently with a bit of thought and word smithing when exclaiming shock, anger an fear etc.  It's not working very well.

I can only police them in English.  Who knows what they are saying in Hungarian (despite me knowing some of the expressions). I catch them sometimes but I've not got enough coverage.

Marilyn Tassy :

....
In Hungary I find people have no patience with foreign speakers which gets my goat so to speak.

I totally agree.  They are utterly intolerant. It's lack of exposure to other worlds, people and languages. Pathetic really.  You never get this in The Netherlands, Belgium or Scandanavia or even Croatia.

I am quite used to being in many odd foreign countries, waving my arms about, trying to mime and finding a common understanding.   

I think so long as one is totally confident, lack any embarrassment, keep smiling, usually people will try to help and are willing to work it out.

fluffy2560 :
Marilyn Tassy :

....
In Hungary I find people have no patience with foreign speakers which gets my goat so to speak.

I totally agree.  They are utterly intolerant. It's lack of exposure to other worlds, people and languages. Pathetic really.  You never get this in The Netherlands, Belgium or Scandanavia or even Croatia.

I am quite used to being in many odd foreign countries, waving my arms about, trying to mime and finding a common understanding.   

I think so long as one is totally confident, lack any embarrassment, keep smiling, usually people will try to help and are willing to work it out.

True as well, being willing to look the fool and smiling can get you anywhere, maybe even places you have no intention of going to as well...
No one needs a sense of humor or it will be impossible here.
Reminds me of my mom who would wash out mouths out with soap for swearing in front of her, the entire time she would be screaming ,"I'm not raising some ________________ sailors but young ladies!"
Mom' one of a kind...
My husband has a saying," No patience equals no love" guess many locals aren't showing us much love.
My husband barely spoke much English when I met him, guess if I had not bothered to listen and suffer a bit I'd have missed out on knowing him.

Marilyn Tassy :

....
My husband has a saying," No patience equals no love" guess many locals aren't showing us much love.
My husband barely spoke much English when I met him, guess if I had not bothered to listen and suffer a bit I'd have missed out on knowing him.

Nice saying. Agree with that.

Sounds like Mrs Fluffy and I.  She spoke some English but hardly any.  We managed to just get by waving our arms about, pointing at stuff, dictionary and smiling a lot. 

And here we are 23+ years later, she's fluent in English and I'm useless in Hungarian. 

Nice day again.   Mrs Fluffy tells me the film set near here - Farkashegy airport - and supposedly Terminator 6,  is very busy with lots of cars and a bus (might be for extras).  Might be a crowd scene or something. With this kind of intense light, it must be good for filming.

I might have a go tomorrow afternoon at cycling past it or having a drive down there (it's a farm track) to see what is going on through the bushes.

fluffy2560 :

Hungarian keyboards are annoying - they don't have the 0 (zero) which just seems ludicrous to me.

Confused by this comment. Looking at my Hungarian keyboards (all three of them) -- zero on the upper left, just before the "1".....

Will provide photos if wished. :)

klsallee :
fluffy2560 :

Hungarian keyboards are annoying - they don't have the 0 (zero) which just seems ludicrous to me.

Confused by this comment. Looking at my Hungarian keyboards (all three of them) -- zero on the upper left, just before the "1".....

Will provide photos if wished. :)

Yes, I demand photos and an affadavit stamped by a judge declaring their authenticity (but not 100 kegs or bust Brett Kava-no-no as the judge). That's an attempt at topical humour. 

We've all got laptops without number keypads and all with British keyboard layouts.  Mrs Fluffy and the kids have their laptops in Windows 10 HU mode and there's no 0 we can find.   

Mrs Fluffy and I have had this discussion forever and we cannot find it.   She says there's no 0 on a HU keyboard and she's spent years typing on different versions for work purposes. 

We've tried the uncomfortable Num Lock mode and that doesn't work either (on my UK keyboard in Num Lock mode, 0 is on the M).  The ordinary 0 on my British keyboard is after the 9 on the RHS, not before the 1 on the LHS. 

If it's in there, it's pretty good at hiding.  If anyone knows where it is, I'll withdraw my remarks!

fluffy2560 :
klsallee :
fluffy2560 :

Hungarian keyboards are annoying - they don't have the 0 (zero) which just seems ludicrous to me.

Confused by this comment. Looking at my Hungarian keyboards (all three of them) -- zero on the upper left, just before the "1".....

Will provide photos if wished. :)

We've all got laptops without number keypads and all with British keyboard layouts.  Mrs Fluffy and the kids have their laptops in Windows 10 HU mode and there's no 0 we can find.

Laptops..... Pfft. Real geeks build their own towers and use real keyboards.

But, for the others, I stoop down....

Laptop manufacturers have to fit different keyboards into their "standard" case form factor. Who knows where they put it, but the "zero" it there, somewhere. Maybe you have to use the blue "Fn" key, or some other weird voodoo. There is often a blue function key set with all the numbers on a laptop. For my only laptop (AKA the "basterd"), a Toshhiba, the zero is just above the other number keys, or on the letter M in blue key "Fn - Num Lock" mode (also true of my desktop keyboards -- which seems to be the standard default location for zero on Hungarian keyboards -- so try that).

But this varies by manufacturer. Since you don't use a real computer and a real keyboard, up to you to find the zero. But it is there. Somewhere. Put on your miners helmet and start digging for it.....

Or just buy a "real" keyboard, and plug it into your collapsible toy..... ;)

And, yes, this post written with a large layer or intended humor (but the "Fn - Num Lock" should work)

klsallee :

....Laptops..... Pfft. Real geeks build their own towers and use real keyboards.

But, for the others, I stoop down....

Laptop manufacturers have to fit different keyboards into their "standard" case form factor. Who knows where they put it, but the "zero" it there, somewhere. Maybe you have to use the blue "Fn" key, or some other weird voodoo. There is often a blue function key set with all the numbers on a laptop. For my only laptop (AKA the "basterd"), a Toshhiba, the zero is just above the other number keys, or on the letter M in blue key "Fn - Num Lock" mode (also true of my desktop keyboards -- which seems to be the standard default location for zero on Hungarian keyboards -- so try that).

But this varies by manufacturer. Since you don't use a real computer and a real keyboard, up to you to find the zero. But it is there. Somewhere.

Or just buy a "real" keyboard, and plug it into your collapsible toy..... ;)

And, yes, this post written with a large layer or intended humor (but the "Fn - Num Lock" should work)

Oh, plug in a kb, that's cheating.  It's nothing to do with the Fn keys.  We've all got different manufacturers - Sony, Dell, HP etc, nothing standard in terms of exact layout. 

Are you saying when your kb is in HU mode  via the language bar, that you can press 0 on the keyboard and a 0 appears?

I used to think real computers had a big cream box and fat telly and loads of cables but then I got a laptop.  Besides, hard to travel with  25 kg of metal.   And you can watch movies on a laptop at 35000 ft.

Yeah try to push all buttons while holding the Fn key. Also, for most laptops you can just order a hungarian keyboard for 4-8000HUF...

atomheart :

Yeah try to push all buttons while holding the Fn key. .

You don't have to hold down the Fn key or each key stroke (in fact, that probably won't work). Simply press the "Fn-Num Lock" combination at the same time. That locks the keyboard layout to the numbers. Do the same "Fn-Num Lock" to go back to the letter based keyboard.

fluffy2560 :
klsallee :

....or on the letter M in blue key "Fn - Num Lock" mode (also true of my desktop keyboards -- which seems to be the standard default location for zero on Hungarian keyboards -- so try that).

But this varies by manufacturer.

Actually, it is a standard (but some use the "Alt" key rather than "Fn"):

https://www.dummies.com/computers/pcs/t … ur-laptop/

just wondering... Did you actually try it, or just pontificating? The Num Lock key, if there (and I doubt it is not there if you don't have an obvious zero on a key), is there for a reason.

fluffy2560 :

We've all got different manufacturers - Sony, Dell, HP etc, nothing standard in terms of exact layout.

For what it is worth, and as an example, from just looking at http://tablet.hu, all the Dell's, as just one manufacturer example, that they show the keyboard for, has a "0" key next to the "9". Such as:

http://tablet.hu/img/o/371528-77ef1.jpg

Or

http://tablet.hu/img/o/364606-5c86a.jpg

True, not a "Hungarian keyboard". But.... Just saying..... These are notebooks available in Hungary.

klsallee :

...For what it is worth, and as an example, from just looking at http://tablet.hu, all the Dell's, as just one manufacturer example, that they show the keyboard for, has a "0" key next to the "9". ...

Those are not HU keyboards from Dell - the Y and the Z are around the wrong way etc  - HU kb is more like a DE keyboard.  The ones in the pics are US keyboard.  It doesn't matter anyway, that's just the printing on the key tops, it's how to find 0 when in HU mode. 

On my Sony, there's a Fn key, an Alt key and indeed an Alt Gr key.  The right hand one does the € symbol.  The left, never used it as far as I remember, the Fn changes functions like sound etc on the Function keys but needs a special driver.

In theory, the HU keyboard with number pad looks like this (0 is top left but I find this doesn't work on my laptop, nor anyone else's here):

http://www.keysourcechina.com/img/img/img/201171222451573499.jpg

I am beginning to think we need a different driver.  It would be pointless to go for the Num-Lock if it's on in  the kb definition really.   I just checked the two kb definitions again for HU and there are two - the 101 and ordinary version.  The former has a different character where the 0 would be.  The 101-kb has the zero in the right place.  Again, I think it's the kb definitions not being correct for a particular laptop.  I'll try it on another kb, more 101 standard.

Update:  the 101-kb not for laptops will give the wrong character when using the 0.  To get the 0, the other HU kb has to be installed and then it works correctly.   So a case of operator error (me).  I shall inform Mrs Fluffy immediately and she will think of an appropriate punishment, like forcing me to lay in bed longer, drink more tea or making me eat apple pie with cream.

fluffy2560 :

Those are not HU keyboards from Dell -.

I agree. So how about just showing a pic of your Dell keyboard?

Frankly, I have not seen a HU keyboard without a "0". Even my old tiny netbook has a "0", and if they could fit a "0" on a netbook they can fit one on notebook. So would like to see what you are talking about. :)

fluffy2560 :

In theory, the HU keyboard with number pad looks like this (0 is top left but I find this doesn't work on my laptop, nor anyone else's here):

If the "0" key is there, you simply need to setup the correct keyboard in the OS. The default is the 101 US keyboard or maybe the 102 keyboard. You can change that in the setup of your OS. Windows and Linux both work fine with the Hungarian keyboards (those are the OS I use), but you have to select them specially. You don't need special drivers -- they should come with the OS -- or with the laptop if you purchased in Hungary. I have done this keyboard setup for people in Hungary. Takes about 2 minutes for me to do. Also, in Windows, check in your info bar -- you should see "HU" if you are using a HU keyboard. "EN" if not. You OS should also give you an option to see the "keyboard layout chart". Check that to make sure it matches your keyboard.

klsallee :
fluffy2560 :

Those are not HU keyboards from Dell -.

I agree. So how about just showing a pic of your Dell keyboard?

Frankly, I have not seen a HU keyboard without a "0". Even my old tiny netbook has a "0", and if they could fit a "0" on a netbook they can fit one on notebook. So would like to see what you are talking about. :)

fluffy2560 :

In theory, the HU keyboard with number pad looks like this (0 is top left but I find this doesn't work on my laptop, nor anyone else's here):

If the "0" key is there, you simply need to setup the correct keyboard in the OS. The default is the 101 US keyboard or maybe the 102 keyboard. You can change that in the setup of your OS. Windows and Linux both work fine with the Hungarian keyboards (those are the OS I use), but you have to select them specially. You don't need special drivers -- they should come with the OS -- or with the laptop if you purchased in Hungary. I have done this keyboard setup for people in Hungary. Takes about 2 minutes for me to do. Also, in Windows, check in your info bar -- you should see "HU" if you are using a HU keyboard. "EN" if not. You OS should also give you an option to see the "keyboard layout chart". Check that to make sure it matches your keyboard.

Believe me, I know what to do in Windows, Linux and otherwise - I just didn't really care enough to get into it until I mentioned it earlier and it became more of a challenge to answer this question. 

The original premise was that Mrs Fluffy replaced 0s with Os.  That's because she couldn't find 0 on the keyboard.  So I looked into a HU typewriter layout - because she first learned to type on a typewriter.  Turns out Mrs Fluffy never saw a kb with the 0 on the left.  Older HU typewriters do not have a 0 (see below).  In work scenarios here, they had US kbs as they did not manufacture HU kbs in large numbers so this never was solved there either.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-XAZNKTwoGWw/UdNxb22D1lI/AAAAAAAAD8k/WK2RmbF2Gww/s640/flea+markets+36.jpg

It's a combination of stuff - her not knowing about the 0 on the left and me not taking the issue seriously enough or having enough interest to check into it more.

As I said, the HU keyboard to select for a laptop is not the 101-kb but the other one (in Win 7 at least), didn't bother checking Win 10).  The preview function in Windows shows the layout.

I checked some keyboards here and took some pictures of the Sony (UK), the Dell (UK) and an HP (UK) laptop plus a desktop PC with a small sized HU keyboard without a number pad.  I may upload them but probably the HU one is the only one of interest.

The "0" on that typewriter is about 100 cm to the left of the "1", which is 100cm to the right.  To the right of "what", I don't know.......

Brilliant photo. Welcome to Hungary. :)

P.S. I definitely have to show this picture to my wife. :)

klsallee :

The "0" on that typewriter is about 100 cm to the left of the "1", which is 100cm to the right.  To the right of "what", I don't know.......

Brilliant photo. Welcome to Hungary. :)

P.S. I definitely have to show this picture to my wife. :)

I edited my answer so there was some cross posting updates.

On that photo, there's a O type character on the left under the 2 but I don't recognise what that character is. It looks like an 0 with a cedilla but I don't remember that character in Hungarian. It could just be a splodge on the kb but it wouldn't explain why there would be 2 x O on the keys (the other one is on the right).

fluffy2560 :

On that photo, there's a O type character on the left under the 2 but I don't recognise what that character is. It looks like an 0 with a cedilla but I don't remember that character in Hungarian. It could just be a splodge on the kb but it wouldn't explain why there would be 2 x O on the keys (the other one is on the right).

Hu? What?

Zeros, "Ohs", mix, match, compare, contrast...... lather, rinse and repeat.....

Sorry, I am starting to fade out now. I may need a cup of tea?

As for the original topic --- Well that is Hungarian textual and number language "barrier" for you. :)

klsallee :
fluffy2560 :

On that photo, there's a O type character on the left under the 2 but I don't recognise what that character is. It looks like an 0 with a cedilla but I don't remember that character in Hungarian. It could just be a splodge on the kb but it wouldn't explain why there would be 2 x O on the keys (the other one is on the right).

Hu? What?

Zeros, "Ohs", mix, match, compare, contrast...... lather, rinse and repeat.....

Sorry, I am starting to fade out now. I may need a cup of tea?

As for the original topic --- Well that is Hungarian textual and number language "barrier" for you. :)

I'm an idiot, the unknown letter is a Q, not an O with a twiddly bit underneath.

Tea or not, blind leading the blind.

I showed Mrs Fluffy the typewriter picture and yes, the 0 is an O and the 1 was a lowercase L.  That's how they did it when dinosaurs roamed the earth and people used stream trains.  About the 1980s.

Case closed, eh what Holmes?!

I think learning the language is just respect for the people who you live with. I speak English with a very cockney accent, I can put on a Dick Van Dyke kinda posh accent if required and pronounce my T's and H's but to me the thing that you put on the top of your head is an "a" (dropped aitch, glottal stop on the T) and that would make no sense to a Hungarian, so in English I have to "posh up" a bit from my natural dialect. My wife of many years, who is Hungarian, completely failed to understand when my late Mum and I were going at full speed, and her English is excellent.

Yes, you should learn the language. It is not actually that hard to learn - the basics - there is no masculine/feminine, you only have past and present tense, like in Japanese, so it is really not too bad to learn. I have got by for five years on about three verbs, I really should learn some verbs but in daily life never really needed to know them. Learning nouns is just vocabulary really so you pick those up as you go along.

I would say one of the harder things is the pronunciation system the distinction between óőúáűéí etc. It is not as if I cannot say it, but I cannot HEAR it. One of the hardest words for me is "új", the Hungarian for "new". I know what it is, I know what it means, it is impossible for me to say properly. It always comes out something like the way in English we would say "gooey". I know it is wrong but my tongue or mouth is always going in the wrong place - and I speak French and a few other languages.

In fact I met a near neighbour the other day who is Roma and was off to work, his boss had offered him a day's work (nothing wrong with hard work). We were talking as we were going up the street in French, English, Roma, Hungarian, all at the same time  (he had worked in Marseilles for six years so it was easy for him to do French so for some reason we just slipped into French).

One thing you also do is LOSE your vocabulary. You can't think of the word for something in your native language, and have to kinda struggle around to find it somehow or ask someone else what is this called. You end up looking like someone with senile dementia because you are constantly asking people WHAT IS THIS?

Also Hungarians will not tell you what something is. They will tell you what it is FOR, but not what the name of it is. You hold up a necktie and say "what is this?" and they will say (in Hungarian) "you put it around your neck and do a knot..... (etc)" and YES I KNOW THAT. WHAT DO YOU CALL IT? So still no idea what a necktie is called. Of course I can look that up in a dictionary but have absolutely no need to, I have plenty of neckties, so never needed to go and buy one....

There is also the Hungarian habit or rather if you are English they want to practice English on you. This is understandable as they have not had a chance to practive English except with the television or whatever, so you end up with this constant battle that I am trying to speak Hungarian and you are trying to speak English, now why don't we switch and each use the language we know better? :)

Also quite often I get talked to in German, a language I don't know at all well. I have to say bocsanat, nem nemet vagyok, angolul vagy magyarul (I am not German, English language or Hungarian language) but they will continue in German as if I had a clue what they were on about....

But then I now live in Budapest where almost everyone has a smattering of English or some other language. Go out of Budapest -- and you don't have to go far -- you will HAVE to learn Hungarian because they will not have any other. My brother and sister in law only speak Hungarian, and they only live 40km from the centre of Budapest, and most people around there only speak Hungarian or some Roma if they are from that culture. Outside of Budapest, you are not going to survive very long without some basic Hungarian vocabulary.

As with any language, it is also full of false friends (faux amis) so that you have to be en guarde that a word that seems like what you think it would mean doesn't mean something entirely different. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_friend, I can't think of examples at the moment but there are stacks of them so you have to think... does this mean what I think it means. For example élem is a battery cell but a battery is an akkumulator.... I on purpose went to Google Translate yesterday to put in "French polish" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_polish) to see what it would give me, and to not a great surprise it gave me "Francia lengel" which means.. well is meaningless but means French-Polish i.e. lengel means from Poland, lengelorszag...as it does not understand what French polishing is. I do this for fun sometimes to see what nonsense Gtrans manages to come up with... so use Google Translate etc with some caution, it is OK for translating nouns but always double check and don't trust it. (I did Machine Translation at University and I know not to trust these things, they are handy for a first check but always double check if you need anything serious done)

There are also just very stupid thinks like szia sounds to me like "see ya" which we would say at the end of  a conversation but here is said at the start, whereas they finish with "hello"... there are just tricks like that you have to learn, and then because I am speaking English half the time and Hungarian the other half the time I am constantly switching with things like that. I know what money is and how much it is worth but since my pockets are usually full of coin (I don't tend to use debit cards unless I have to) then I always have a stack of cash and the shopkeepers think occasionally that I am somehow incapable of counting money whereas it is just easier to dump it and find out what we have.... these are not so much language things as cultural things, I suppose, and my local shopkeeper knows I am a hulye angol (stupid Englishman) and he is very quick so it is easier just to hand it to him to put in the till rather than us both counting it, and if I am under by a bit on some purchase we settle it up the following day, rather than having to split a note etc, or even MAKE a note of it, as he knows he will get it the next day.

They play Retro Radio in there which seems to be coming quite popular here in Hungary. Of course pretty much every song. from the 60s and 70s, is in English so I try to identify them and also will then try singing them in Hungarian as I go along. The results are usually absolutely appaling. "Love me Do" by the Beatles you would not think hard... well "do" is csinalni,,, but then... while you are trying to do it as you go along the whole thing usually falls apart (which is rather my intent).

I don't think there are language barriers, just cultural barriers. For one thing, English is regarded as rather posh on products etc so I am constantly battling to find the Hungarian for fairly simple things as they will be labelled in English or something else, German probably, other than Hungarian which is "common". So you go to ALDI or Lidl the cheap supermarkets and already you have three languages on the go, the product will be in German, the label on the shelf in Hungarian and on your receipt it will be in English, or in some other triangulation of that kind. That just wouldn't happen in England, everything would be in English (by law). But if you go to the market, everything will be in Hungarian and you will have to learn that a citrom is a lemon, and an alma is an apple, and a krumpli is a spud or borgonya a potato, and you have to learn that kind of vocabulary. I also get so confused with which one is só (salt) and which one is sőr (beer) so end up coming home with twenty cans of salt and no beer.... as I say the pronunciation system is a bit tricky to an English ear. The main DIY shops where I spend the majority of my days it seems are all German owned, so that everything there will be in German but the staff are helpful enough and we find it together. It is also hard, like what is six foot of two by four? Would just make no sense.... so there is this constant conversion battle (and yes I know metric). You have false friends like "yard" to mean a distance and "yard" to mean a garden, and have to then go hmm I mean méter or kert, it is not hard, but you have to constantly "switch" in your head because your brain is just going "yard, just say yard" and another side is saying "yes but what kind of yard do I want?" With wine, or other drinks, white wine is féher, the word for white, but red wine is vilagos, which is not the colour for red (which is piros). So there is this constant wrongfooting if you are not so careful, but you get the hang of it. I am just throwing out examples. A ladder is a letra, but Letraset is not named after ladders but letters.... it is a very distinct language from most European languages, it is not Slavic or Latinate or Germanic, so you just have to LEARN it, as my teacher once said to me, "remember to a Hungarian EVERYTHING ELSE is a foreign language". Hungarians have typically to learn at least one other language if they want to get any kind of decent job, tends to be English or German, and that is hard for them because they don't "work" the way Hungarian works. The English "I should have been going" would in Hungarian be one word, so to do all the auxiliaries like that is hard for them, and they miss. I miss too, a lot, in Hungarian, but am forgiven for trying.

SimonTrew :

I don't think there are language barriers, just cultural barriers.

Language and culture are often intertwined. Especially for Hungarian, which is not a "European" rooted language. And Hungarian culture also has differences.

That being said... I think the point of this topic was about how much one can do here with a limited or non-existent set of local language skills.

Meanwhile, with culture... well you may spend your entire life and not really understand another culture like a local does (thinking you do understand it is not the same as actually understanding it  :)  ).

Hungarian is Finno-Ugric, it is related to Estonian and Finnish more than to other European languages. It is not Slavic, Germanic, or Latinate. It is NOT actually hard to learn if you put some effort in. I am no expert in it, but I put in a bit of effort to learn it. It IS a European language, what else could it be? It is not as if ,t came from outer space. It has been influenced a lot by the countries around it, as you would expect from any language. And it has a lot of import-words from English, for example "Hotel" (which of course is Latinate, "Hostel" etc) or take Panzion which is the same as French "Pension" for a cheap hotel, Italian similar. But in the main you just have to LEARN IT AND CANNOT JUSTÍ GUESS BECAUSE YOU KNOW ANOTHER LANGUAGE. I speak French fluently, English as Native, Hungarian badly, Arabic a bit, Spanish, Italian, Latin, ancient Greek, Hebrew and I don't know how many computer languages, twenty probably. My point is you cannot GUESS. You get a dictionary, you look up the translation. My wife, a native Hungarian who speaks English very well, quite often beats me at Scrabble, but I play upside down and we are playing for fun and doesn't matter who wins, we play for the fun of it to put out "nice" words I mean just unusual or long words, we don't check the dictionary for the little nips and tucks that no doubt would get us more points, I know what an "em" or an "en" is because I worked in typography for many years, but that is kinda ruled out until the endgame. Why would I want to cheat on my wife? It is only a game.... might as well have a different wife if I wanted to do that.... so learning a language, play some games, get Scrabble in a foreign language (it has different letters) and just start learning it.... there is no kinda instant solution to this. YOU JUST HAVE TO LEARN IT

SimonTrew :

Hungarian is Finno-Ugric, it is related to Estonian and Finnish more than to other European languages. It is not Slavic, Germanic, or Latinate. ..... My point is you cannot GUESS. You get a dictionary, you look up the translation. ..... YOU JUST HAVE TO LEARN IT

I disagree with this.  You can take a guess and sometimes you can get it right or in the ballpark. 

I've learnt all sorts of languages and many of them in the same general grouping are easy to get the gist of, particularly the Latin languages.   You need that base knowledge, context and some lateral thinking a lot of the time.   

The most obscure language I've ever tried to learn is Wolof, which is a language spoken in the Western part of Africa.  But a lot of languages in Africa have Bantu as their base. If one knew Bantu, one might be able to infer or guess  enough for basic interaction. 

Hungarian has a lot of words from other languages, it's not as unique as the Hungarians would like to suggest it is.   There are lots of examples of words here that much have the same origin as ones elsewhere. Just observation.

SimonTrew :

My point is you cannot GUESS.

Depends on context.

If someone is nodding their head and saying "Igen", you can "guess" they are saying "Yes" and you would be correct.


SimonTrew :

I don't know how many computer languages, twenty probably

Yeah. Sure.... Right.... Because, what, you are fluent in COBOL?

And you "know" them, eh? As in being able to actually write competent code with them? I have my doubts.

Seriously, I know many programming languages fluently. Because I owned an IT company for many years by the way. And I covered all the real world popular languages needed (and some not so popular):

https://statisticstimes.com/tech/image/computer-languages.jpg

You claim to know 20? I think you are just BSing here....  But I will keep an open mind. Still, you have to prove it. Write the same code, say to find the first 100 prime numbers, in 20 different languages. Post it here. (And don't copy and paste, I can check that easily). And will be very disappointed if one of your languages you "know" is not Whitespace.

And if BSing about computer languages.... well I might also question your other linguistic claims. :)

klsallee :

...

SimonTrew :

I don't know how many computer languages, twenty probably

Yeah. Sure.... Right.... Because, what, you are fluent in COBOL?
...

I've learnt for work purposes BASIC, PASCAL, MODULA-2, FORTRAN, C and some others in the past.  Out of all of them, the one I think is more creative and craft-like is C.  I used to enjoy putting obscurity in my coding, pushing the limits of the language.  It wasn't a good way to do stuff for maintenance purposes but I was bored!  The C language was much closer to the OS than others so I kind of like that link to the OS internals and from there the hardware.

I think computer programming languages are irrelevant to spoken and language learning.   Coding languages are systematic and follow solid rules.  Human language doesn't do that all that much.

fluffy2560 :

I think computer programming languages are irrelevant to spoken and language learning.   Coding languages are systematic and follow solid rules.  Human language doesn't do that all that much.

Absolutely correct. Nailed it.

Which is why claiming how many programming languages one "knows" when discussing spoken languages is really irrelevant.

I have written my undergraduate degree thesis in COBOL, done Java, worked in C++ for many years and contributed to the language commitee, was an MVP in C++, er, FORTRAN-66, PL/M-96, Z80 assembler, 6502 assembler, 8109 assembler, PL-65, VAX-TPU, VAX-11 machine code, need I go on? I have lots of faults but learning computer languages is not one of them. Last job was programming embedded on some automotive embedded processor that doesn't even HAVE a language or compiler and so you have to do it all longhand.... and I can do that. Tell me I am a pillock, but I am VERY good at my job. I have written translators from Java bytecode into other languages at 7pm on a Friday evening to get it out to customer.... I have written parsers and scripting engines, for Perl and other languages, I have done all kinds of softwary things and hardwary things. Tell me I am a pillock, but I know my stuff.

I don't think it is irrelevant. If you understand Chomsky grammars, then you can "parse" most languages fairly easily but it doesn't mean you can understand the words that hang off the tree. Yes, you CAN guess a lot of Hungarian words, there are a lot of import-words and so on, you also get lots of "false friends" like a "Bolt" in Hungarian is not the same as a "Bolt" in English, so well done for guessing that one... the days of the week you just have to learn, you can't guess them from English or French, vásarnáp Sunday, market day, is not called after the Sun. hétfő, Monday, is not called after the moon, as "Lundi" or "Monday" is. You CAN guess, but your guess will be incorrect about 75% of the time. Of course you can guess what a super-dizkont is going to be, a discount store. But for many many things, you cannot guess. You have to learn. I think it is supercilious to suggest that you don't sit and study and learn a language but can just get away with it by the skin of your teeth by guessing from other languages.

I can competently write in any computer language you throw at me, from machine code to high level languages, and I can tell you the theory and practice of how computer lanugage grammar works. I do NOT need to be told how computer lanugaes work. I have programmed stuff on Atari 8-bits, I have been around the block a bit. My Mum actually worked on LEO, Lyons Electronic Operator, the first business computer in the world (Joe Lyons was the first to purchase a computer for use, rather than it just being fiddled with by univeristy wonks), which was based on ENIAC, or EDSAC, and I am a member of the society for preserving them and their history... I heard the other day from the Secetary that they have been awarded some kind of grant, which is good news, to preserve them. I do NOT need to be told the history of computing. You can call me an arsehole, call me whatever you want, but I do NOT need to be told about computing history. I can read punch card and punch tape, on my fingers, my aunt was a teletypist. I do NOT need to be told about baudot code... now YOU get off your high horse and respect that I ACTUALLY KNOW MY STUFF.

Dude, I'm still unaware as to how to "cut and paste" with a computer.
Guess some of us are not techy people.
I'm more of a "people person" and am able to communicate with others  in person allot easier then in writing.
Of course if I had the chance to take a short computer course I'm sure I'd figure allot ot it out without too many sleepless nights.

Why it is relevant is that Chomsky posited like four levels of grammar, and that natural language is at the top of that but is what he called (it dependHow doe s on your native language "free-form grammar") i.e that natural language has, or seems to have, a structure, and obviuously it does, but as soon as you start hanging things on that tree it all goes a bit pear shaped, that you trip up on all kinds of exceptions that don't fit into the grammar. Now, computer languages are not like that, everything has to fit into the grammar, by definition. But in natural language, we are constantly making exceptions, making idioms, if I say "it has all gone pear-shaped" then that is literally translatable but no doubt meaningless, you would have to translate the entire idiom. And you can buy BOOKS of idioms and proverbs that do exactly that, and that is back to square one (another idiom which is meaningless to a Hungarian), that you have to BUY A BOOK AND READ IT. How do I translate "Back to square one", just the "square one". You would have to know from the start that it is used in British English to mean you are back where you started. "Back to Go" maybe on the monopoly board, but actually I believe it comes from where the football was on the radio, the Radio Times printed a grid and the announcer would say which square the ball was in, and then if the goalie got it, it was back to square one... but that is impossible to translate literally... égy tér as if that makes any sense

Marilyn Tassy :

Dude, I'm still unaware as to how to "cut and paste" with a computer.
Guess some of us are not techy people.
I'm more of a "people person" and am able to communicate with others  in person allot easier then in writing.
Of course if I had the chance to take a short computer course I'm sure I'd figure allot ot it out without too many sleepless nights.

Well Marilyn actually you have a good example there, for Hungarian... I don't know what the Hungarian is for "cut and paste".... there will be some idiom. It comes, I know, from when you had newspapers and literally would cut and paste the copy in at the last minute for the STOP PRESS kinda thing before it went off for offset litho... that is where it comes from, but nobody now actually uses a pair of scissors or a bucket of glue, so it could be called anything in Hungarian. Ctrl+X to cut, Ctrl+C to copy, Ctrl+V to paste.

fluffy2560 :
klsallee :

...

SimonTrew :

I don't know how many computer languages, twenty probably

Yeah. Sure.... Right.... Because, what, you are fluent in COBOL?
...

I've learnt for work purposes BASIC, PASCAL, MODULA-2, FORTRAN, C and some others in the past.  Out of all of them, the one I think is more creative and craft-like is C.  I used to enjoy putting obscurity in my coding, pushing the limits of the language.  It wasn't a good way to do stuff for maintenance purposes but I was bored!  The C language was much closer to the OS than others so I kind of like that link to the OS internals and from there the hardware.

I think computer programming languages are irrelevant to spoken and language learning.   Coding languages are systematic and follow solid rules.  Human language doesn't do that all that much.

We are getting very much off topic here. If you want, I can give you several copies of first editions of "The C Programming Language" by Kernighan and Plauger, but you still probably will think I am an idiot. I have it over nine pages of Dr Dobb's Journal of Computer Kalisthenics and Orhodontia, whacked up and copy-pasted in 1969. I have first editions of the Art of Computer Programming, permanently borrowed from British Aircraft Corporation as was. I do NOT need to be told how to do my job. I know how to to my job. That is what I get paid for.

Nicklaus Wirth who wrote Pascal and MODULA-2 was once asked, according to legend, "How do you pronounce your surname?" He said well you can call me by name, "wirth", or call me by value, "worth"...

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