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Hungarian is spoken by about 13 million people, mainly in the central Danube Valley. Aside from being the national language of Hungary, Hungarian is spoken by substantial communities in Czechoslovakia, Romania and Yugoslavia. Other Hungarian speakers are scattered throughout the world, including about half a million of them in the United States. There is little difference between dialects in Hungarian, and the phrases in this book will be understood by Hungarian speakers everywhere.
Hungarian is a member of the Finno-Ugric branch of the Uralic family of languages, and is therefore unrelated to the familiar languages of Europe. Its closest relatives are the Vogul and Ostyak languages of Siberia, and it is more distantly related to Finnish and Estonian. As you might expect, then, Hungarian grammar is quite different from that of English and other Indo-European languages, and Hungarian has always been considered a difficult language to learn. Say It in Hungarian will enable you to communicate in a part of Eastern Europe where few people speak English.
NOTES ON THE USE OF THIS BOOK
The words, phrases and sentences in this book have been selected to provide for the communications needs of the traveler or foreign resident in Hungary, and they have been divided into sections corresponding to the situations likely to be encountered in travel and in daily life. The entries which consist of vocabulary lists have been alphabetized according to their English headings, with the exception of the sections on food and public notices, which have been alphabetized according to the Hungarian entries to facilitate reference to menus and signs. The index at the back of the book serves as a handy English-Hungarian glossary, and helps you to locate quickly a specific word or phrase. With the aid of the index or a bilingual dictionary, many sentence patterns included here will answer innumerable needs. For example, the place occupied by "six" in the sentence
I shall wait for your call until [six] o'clock.
may be filled with another number in accordance with your needs. In other sentences, the words in square brackets can be replaced with words immediately following (in the same sentence or in the indented entries below it). Thus, the entry
These things [to the left] [to the right] belong to me.
provides two sentences: "These things to the left belong to me" and "These things to the right belong to me." Three sentences are provided by the following entries:
How much does it cost [per hour]?
The substitutions taken from the same entry or the indented entries following a sentence will always be in the correct grammatical form. Since Hungarian nouns and verbs take a variety of endings depending on their context, those substitutions you supply yourself from the index or a bilingual dictionary will not always be in the correct form. However, Hungarians should have no trouble understanding what you mean.
Please note that while brackets always indicate the possibility of substitution, parentheses have been used to provide additional information. They are used to indicate synonyms or alternative usage for an entry:
Please have a seat. (OR: Won't you sit down?)
Parentheses may also be used to explain the nuances of a word or phrase. The abbreviation LIT. is used whenever a parenthetical literal translation of a Hungarian sentence is provided. When a word has different forms according to sex (like English "actor" and "actress"), the abbreviations M. and F. will be used to indicate masculine and feminine forms, respectively.
You will notice that the word "please" has been omitted from many of the sentences in this book. This was done for reasons of space and clarity. To be polite, you should add the word kérem (KAY-rehm) whenever you would normally say "please" in English.
The extensive index at the back of the book is especially useful. Capitalized items in the index refer to section headings and give the number of the page on which the section begins. All other numbers refer to entry numbers (individual entries are numbered consecutively throughout the book).
Excerpted from Say It In Hungarian by Juliette Victor-Rood. Copyright © 1983 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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