The Hungarian movie is famous for a reason. Hungarian actors, directors, producers have made it to Hollywood a couple of times by now. Just think about Bela Lugosi, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Andrew Vajna, and the list could go on.
Today morning’s sensational news was that the Hungarian short film “Sing” (Hungarian title “Mindenki” meaning “everyone”) by Kristóf Deák has won an Academy Award in the category of Live Action Shorts. This is the highest ranking award in the movie industry.
Guess what, this is the second year in a row that Hungarian movie-makers win an Oscar. Last year, in 2016 “Son of Saul” won the the Academy Award for a Foreign Language movie. There is an old Hungarian saying: “Három a magyar igazság!” meaning “Three is the Hungarian truth/justice” so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for next year. 🙂
The story of the movie is about a children’s choir, and the child-actors who performed in it held a waiting-for-the-Oscar slumber party at their school in Budapest. Watch how they celebrate when the winner is announced. It’s pure joy, the classroom is radiating emotion.
I guess you are curious about the movie these kids are acting in. You can watch it below.
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What if you don’t have the time, determination or possibility to become fluent in Hungarian? I have good news: speaking broken Hungarian is way better than speaking no Hungarian at all. It can make all the difference even if you only know a couple of words. After all it all comes down to being brave enough to communicate with limited vocabulary.
I speak a little bit of Hungarian
There is a great difference between saying these two sentences:
I only speak a little Hungarian
Csak kicsit beszélek magyarul. I only speak a little Hungarian.
I can speak a little Hungarian
Beszélek egy kicsit magyarul. I speak a little Hungarian.
The key difference lies in your attitude. In saying the first sentence you emphasize the fact that your Hungarian knowledge is weak. It’s almost as if you apologized because you didn’t study enough (and you should have).
In the second sentence you emphasize the fact that you do know some Hungarian. You are proud of yourself, because you made an effort and learned some Hungarian expressions (even though you shouldn’t have).
So if you want to practice your Hungarian, and don’t want the Hungarian speaker to switch to English, I recommend using the second sentence. By the way, if you get out of your comfort zone and leave the bubble that the multinational company environment represents, you will discover that the real Hungary starts where the English-speaker world ends. You will make good use of this sentence, I promise.
Conversation starters in Hungarian
There are some more sentences you use by starting a Hungarian conversation with just about anybody:
I learn Hungarian.
Do you speak English? (informal)
Do you speak English? (formal)
Introduction in Hungarian
Az én nevem Lili. Amerikai vagyok. Téged hogy hívnak?
My name is Lily. I’m American. What’s your name? (informal)
Introduction in Hungarian - formal
Az én nevem Lili. Amerikai vagyok. Önt hogy hívják?
My name is Lily. I’m American. What’s your name? (formal)
I don't understand this. Help me, please!
Nem értem ezt. Segíts, légy szíves!
I don’t understand this. Help me, please. (informal)
I don't understand this - formal
Nem értem ezt. Segítsen, legyen szíves!
I don’t understand this. Help me, please. (formal)
If you are in a situation that you must speak with somebody, but that person only speaks Hungarian you will notice that meta-communication works just fine. By meta-communication I mean activity-style showing. You can use your hands, your smile, and those few words of Hungarian you already know. Once I saw a foreigner buy a variety of fruits at the market. He could only say “kiló” in Hungarian, the short form of kilogramme. He’d show a number with his finger, say “kiló”, show at the pile of fruits he wanted to buy, and smile. At the end both customer and salesman were smiling. A friendly face and a few words can make a miracle, indeed.
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So, you decided you want to learn Hungarian. What comes to your mind when you think about language learning? Is it the school? Long French, Spanish, or other language lessons you had to attend when you were a child? Word lists that had to be memorized? Words describing grammar that you know you learned in school, but you don’t quite remember them? Agonizingly boring declinations? The feeling that you are learning, learning and learning, but you don’t get anywhere?
Let me tell you the good news: it doesn’t have to be this way. Hungarian learning can be fun, and it can be fast. You don’t have to study Hungarian for 10 years to be able to speak it.
Accelerate the language learning process
Think about the way children learn. Usually, children can speak their mother tongue by the age of three. Why can they do this in such a short amount of time? The key is in the input. They are constantly surrounded by their mother tongue, and there is a person (their mother), who explains them everything, all the time.
If you attend language lessons twice a week, that means 2X52=104 hours of Hungarian learning in a year. If you learn 2 more hours at home too, that means an additional 104 hours. If you keep this pace, you will have 208 hours of input each year. That isn’t enough to learn Hungarian. A child gets that amount of input in a month.
How many hours of learning does a person need in order to achieve fluency? According to “The Foreign Service Institute (FSI)”, it will take 1100 hours for an English speaker to reach a “General Professional Proficiency” in Hungarian. You can do the maths.
Learn Hungarian the fast way
Belief is essential in succeeding in anything you do, and it is especially important for language learning. Believe in yourself, believe that you can achieve fluency in Hungarian if you want to.
Is it really possible? Sure it is, many people have already done it. Benny Lewis, the Irish polyglot could speak better Hungarian after spending just 2 months learning it, than many foreigners, who have been living in Budapest for 10 years.
Check this video out, and see for yourself what I am speaking about:
So, what can you do to learn as quick as Benny? The answer lies in increasing the amount of Hungarian input. The best way of doing so in traveling to Hungary and being surrounded by Hungarian all the time. In Hungary you will be forced to learn Hungarian, even if language learning is not your main focus. If this is not possible for you for various reasons (you’ve got a life to live at home, I know), the next best thing you can do is emulating a Hungarian environment around you.
Learn Hungarian faster by pretending to be Hungarian
Well, I don’t mean trying to fool native Hungarians, that wouldn’t make sense. What I am trying to say is that you should close your eyes for a minute and play like you were playing in your childhood. What would you do if you were Hungarian?
You would start the day by listening to a Hungarian radio station. In the morning, when you get up, and eat your breakfast, get ready for school or work, tune in to a Hungarian radio station. Don’t mind if you can’t understand anything in the beginning. You will eventually absorb the sounds and rhythm of the Hungarian language subconsciously.
During your day, read Hungarian news on the Internet. The major news portals that Hungarians usually read are Index and Origo. You can get some more news portals here. Don’t back off if you are just a beginner, and you don’t understand anything. There is a Google Chrome plugin made just for you! It is called Mind The Word, and it has been specially developed for language learning. It makes easy for you to learn new Hungarian vocabulary while surfing the Internet.
Change the language on your phone and computer to Hungarian. First, it may seem annoying that you can’t find anything, but gradually, you will learn plenty of new things.
Do whatever you like doing, but in Hungarian. Do you like watching movies or TV series? Watch them dubbed in Hungarian, with English subtitles. You can find some Hungarian DVDs on eBay, and this store ships Hungarian DVDs anywhere in the world.
Watching Hungarian TV is also a way of having fun while learning. You can watch some Hungarian stations for free here. Play video games (if you like them) in Hungarian.
While walking on the street, or doing household chores you could listen to Hungarian music. This way you will learn Hungarian while having fun. You could also practice talking to yourself. This means trying to change your thoughts you’re having in Hungarian. For example, if you are walking down the street, try to name as many things around you in Hungarian, as you can. You see a woman, think “Ott megy egy nő.” (=There walks a woman.), or you see a car, think “Ez az autó kék.” (This is a blue car.r ), or you see somebody in a hurry, think “Ő siet.”(He’s in a hurry.)
When you can already say 5 sentences about a topic in Hungarian, go for searching language exchange partners. You can find native Hungarian people willing to talk to you for free if you talk to them in your mother tongue. Easy, isn’t it?
There is a blogger, whose name is Khatzumoto. He got famous for learning Japanese in 18 months without ever being in Japan, or attending any a language-school courses. He learnt it so well that he conducted job interviews in Japanese and he got a job in Japan. His method was “All Japanese all the time”, meaning he got as much Japanese input as he possibly could. How about trying to live by the rule “All Hungarian, all the time?”
Wrap up: “All Hungarian, all the time”
You can accelerate the language learning process by bringing more target-language input in your life. You can do this several ways, without having to leave the place you live in. You can do it even if you feel like you don’t have time for anything. You don’t have to take away time from any of your usual activities, you just integrate Hungarian into your life. It is worth it, your progress in Hungarian will get a huge boost.
Do you want to know more about effective language learning? I found some amazing infographics that can accelerate learning any language.
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Let’s learn about the names of fruits in Hungarian!
We can buy almost anything on the market today. Exotic fruits and vegetables are available all-year-round. If you go to a Hungarian market, you probably wonder, what fruits are truly Hungarian, and which are the imported ones.
I hope this picture helps you sort out what you want to buy next time. Below the picture you will find the names of the fruits pronounced.
görögdinnye - watermelon
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I just love the famous Hungarian hit song “Most múlik pontosan”, performed by Csík Zenekar.
The song was originally performed by Quimby, but I like the Csík Zenekar’s version more. It has traditional Hungarian folk themes that capture the essence of the Hungarian soul: the gift of being able to revel while crying. The song is bitter-sweet, it captures your heart and soul. True catharsis at the end.
This is the Csík Band’s version (“Zenekar” means Band in Hungarian):
This is the original ballad, performed by Quimby:
An this version of the song is performed by a Mexican band called “Buyuchek”. The band loves Hungarian folk music so they got inspired by Quimby’s song:
You can read the Hungarian lyrics and the English translation here.
What so you think? Did they succeed in mixing Hungarian and Mexican rhythms? I loved it. 🙂