The Hungarian alphabet


Transcription of the video:

Sziasztok! Réka vagyok! Hi everyone! My name’s Réka. Welcome to’s video channel, the place to be if you want more, if you really want to learn Hungarian. In this lesson you will learn the sounds and letters of the Hungarian alphabet. Készen álltok? Are you ready? Akkor kezdjük el! Then let’s start!

The Hungarian alphabet is based on the Latin one, so it is easy, you don’t have to learn any new characters in order to read and write. We can speak about the smaller and the greater Hungarian alphabet, depending on whether the letters Q, W, X and Y are listed or not. These letters can only be found in foreign words and names written in traditional orthography.

I will teach you the greater Hungarian alphabet, the one which has 43 letters listed. What? 43? But that’s too many – you may say. Yes, it may sound a bit overwhelming if you think about the 26 letters of English alphabet, but let me tell you why it is easy. All the vowels come in pairs, and the difference between the vowel pairs is the length of the sound you pronounce. Let me tell you an example: we have a different letter for the sound I and Í, U and Ú and so on.

In Hungarian, a letter corresponds to each sound, so it’s quite easy to read once you’ve learned the pronunciation. Another difference to English is that Hungarian letters can be written with one, two, or three characters. S and z written together, for example, stands for the sound s.

So, enough with the introduction and let’s start learning the alphabet:

a – alma -apple

á – állat – animal

b – busz – bus

c – cica – kitten

cs – csillag – star

d – divat – fashion

dz – edzés – workout

dzs – dzsessz – jazz

e – egér – mouse

é – érem -medal

f – fa -tree

g – gazdag -rich

gy – gyertya -candle

h – híd -bridge

I -iskola -school

í – íz -taste

j -jég -ice

k -király -king

l – labda -ball

ly – lyuk -hole

Ly is pronounced the same as j, or pontos j (J with a dot), so we have two letters for the same sound. The reason behind this is that long time ago there were two separate sounds, but the sound for Ly melted together with the pontos J sound. Due to traditional orthography, ly is still present in written Hungarian.

m – malac -piglet

n – nap -sun

ny -nyár -summer

o -orvos – doctor

ó – óra -clock

ö -öreg -old

ő -őr -guard

p -park -park

q – Aquincum – Aquincum

Aquincum is the name of an ancient Roman settlement located in Budapest, Hungary.

R –ruha -dress

s – sajt – cheese

t – tűz -fire

ty – tyúk -hen

u -udvar – courtyard

ú – út -road

ü -üdítő -juice

ű -űr -space

v – virág -flower

w -wifi -wifi

x – xerox -xerox

y – I Bánffy. It is only used in loanwords, pronounced like „i” or „j”. It occurs very often in old Hungarian aristocratic surnames, where it stands for „i”, like „Bánffy”

z – zab – oat

zs – zsűri – jury

Could you pronounce the sounds? If you could, you did well. Practice saying these sounds, and you will have native-like pronunciation in no-time! Oh, and let’s not forget what you’ve just learned. The Hungarian Alphabet is called “A magyar ábécé” in Hungarian.

So, this is the end of this lesson, in the following one we will learn about introducing yourself.

If you liked this video, please, give me a thumbs up, and if you want more, if you really want to learn Hungarian, subscribe to this channel, and visit my website:

Viszontlátásra! Goodbye!

In the end here comes the funny part, a Hungarian tongue twister, try saying it with me:

Jamaica a jamaicaiaké. It means that Jamaica belongs to the Jamaicans. So, repeat: Ja-ma-i-ca a ja-ma-i-ca-i-a-ké, Ja-ma-i-ca a ja-ma-i-ca-i-a-ké, and now faster: Jamaica a jamaicaiaké, Jamaica a jamaicaiaké.

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