For the Language Geeks and Sympathizers

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Have I mentioned lately that Hungarian is hard?  Very, very hard.  But it’s also like a very trippy version of language Clue.  A whodunit with what weapon in which room.  Because understanding Hungarian is alllllllll about the endings.

I’m going to give you the absolutely easiest example I can.

I make lunch.

This is a fairly easy sentence to create in English, even with a lower level of knowledge of verbs.  I is making lunch?  No.  I making lunch?  No.  But do a little memorization of the forms and you get it:  I make lunch.

Furthermore, in English you signify indefinite/definite with the article:  I make lunch.  Or, I make THE lunch.

But in Hungarian, you have to add endings to just about everything to signify not only person (I–first person singular) and tense (make—present) but also (lunch/the lunch—indefinite/definite) and (lunch—object).  That’s a lot of endings to remember.  I won’t mention them all now.  It’s too depressing.   And this is just for the Indicative.

So here are the words:

root word for to make/do:  csinálni

root word for lunch: ebéd

I make (if it’s just lunch):  csinálok

I make (if it’s THE lunch):  csinálom

lunch (as object): egy ebédet

THE lunch (as object):  az ebédet

See how those endings changed?

And Poof:

1st person singular indefinite:

Csinálok egy ebédet.

1st person singular definite:

Csinálom az ebédet.

And what the heck, let’s do 2nd person singular for present/past/future:

Indefinite:  You make/made/will make lunch.

Csinálsz egy ebédet
Csináltál egy ebédet
Fogsz csinálni egy ebédet

Definite:  You make/made/will make the lunch.

Csinálod az ebédet
Csináltad az ebédet
Fogod csinálni az ebédet

Eighth through twelfth grade I complained about conjugating Latin verbs.  Oh, the endings, tear tear, pout pout.  Ancient language and all, it’s easy to beat up on.  I couldn’t see it then, but my punishment was coming.  And it has arrived in the form of learning Hungarian.


6 thoughts on “For the Language Geeks and Sympathizers

  1. good luck, jes. you’re brave for learning and i commend you for not being the typical american and settling for only keeping the company of those who speak english. language is a difficult thing, but the light bulb will eventually pop!

  2. Hi Jess,

    I don’t feel your pain because I am learning my irregular verbs in Latin – oh the fun…
    I don’t know the word for lunch in latino
    My Mom keeps saying this is going to help me – I don’t know how!


    • Ohh, yes the irregular Latin verbs are not fun, but if you ever study another language, the systems of learning Latin are so incredibly helpful. I know it doesn’t feel like it now (and it didn’t to me at the time) but I’m glad that I learned it now. Also, just think of all of the people who you can say (when they complain about any language)– “Oh, I don’t want to hear it– I learned Latin” :)!

      Something I learned my senior year: Ego sum hodie apud te pransurus.
      I’m going to have lunch at your place today!!

      Those Romans LOVED lunch, so it’s good one to know– history-wise 🙂

      Hope all is well Alex. It’s so great to hear from you!!

    • Hi Alex,

      It’s sooo good to hear from you! I hope you are doing well.

      Did you see the new Family Guy? …I loved the Disney vision the most. It was sooo hillarious.

      And trust me, studying latin is much more useful than studying Hungarian. BUT in case you want to start Hungarian, just let me know 🙂


  3. Hi Jessica,

    I ‘m curious. At this point, living abroad for over a year, how comfortable are you speaking Hungarian? And understanding? Do you think that you are past the point where people automatically know you are American when you speak?


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