The People’s Poet and the Wife of Wives: Sándor Petőfi and Júlia Szendrey

As I write this on the 15th day of March, 2017, Hungary is commemorating one of the most significant events in the history of the nation: the Revolution and Freedom Fight of 1848-1849. On this day, meetings and processions are organized throughout the country, patriotic citizens gather around memorials to listen to speeches and sing Hungary’s national anthem (Himnusz) and the nation’s revered and inspiring poem set to music, the ‘Szózat’. People young and old wear cockades in the national colours of red, white and green. It is a national holiday, not so much a celebration as a time to remember our heroes of the past, and to reflect on how in all societies there will always be aims and ideals to strive for. Hungarian rosette
On this special occasion one of the central figures we remember is Sándor Petőfi, known as the People’s Poet, who came from an ordinary background, but with his genius as a poet and keen insight regarding the political scene, was able to champion his nation during the turbulent years of the mid-19th century. The Hungarians were fighting for independence from the Habsburg monarchy, for as part of Austria-Hungary they were oppressed, and Austria did not consider Hungary to be an equal in the partnership. Unrest led to revolution and a fight for freedom that lasted from 1848-1849. Sándor Petőfi rallied the Hungarians with his famous poem ‘Nemzeti dal’ (National Song), which he wrote on March 15th and recited that very day at the Pilvax Coffeehouse in Pest. Petőfi continued to write pamphlets and rousing poems, which led to the Austrian authorities accusing him of incitement, and he became a wanted man. He served as aide-de-camp to General Bem during the battles that took place throughout that year of revolution. He was lost on the battlefield, and although his body was never officially identified, reports heard at the time and research during subsequent years have resulted in it being generally accepted that Sándor Petőfi died during the war, most likely at the Battle of Segesvár near Fehéregyháza on July 31st, 1849. He was 26 years old.
Petőfi Sándor by Barabás Miklós
Sándor Petőfi had been married for only two years when he died. His wife was Júlia Szendrey, and no novelist could have come up with a plot more dramatic or romantic than the true story of their relationship. Often it is the case that immediate accounts re-colour and transform events in a way that can be misleading, and it is only years after, thanks to historical research, that a clearer and truer understanding of events can be gained. So it is with Júlia Szendrey, who, as the widow of Hungary’s great national hero, was greatly criticised when she married again, barely a year after her beloved Sándor’s death. Today we understand her reasons, one of which was that she was left on her own to care for and protect their little son Zoltán, who had been born on December 15th, 1848.
Júlia Szendrey was as remarkable as her husband. Her life after meeting Petőfi was troubled and turbulent, but she would not have called it tragic, for it was illuminated by the two years she spent in matrimony with Sándor. Szendrey Júlia by Barabás Miklós
Júlia Szendrey is one of Hungary’s most inspiring women, being herself a fervent champion of social and political justice, a woman who stood by her husband through all the threatening and dangerous events of the Freedom Fight, who has become known as ‘the Wife of Wives’. Despite the hardships she bore during the years following her husband’s death, Júlia went on to produce several literary works; among her publications are her poems and diaries, short stories, and a diary that was discovered after her death. In 1856 the Tales of Hans Christian Andersen were published for the first time in Hungary, translated by Júlia Szendrey.
A contemporary of Júlia’s was George Sand, whom she greatly admired for her literary prowess and her unconcern for social conventions. Júlia herself – even while her husband was alive – was one of the first Hungarian women to wear a trouser – which was considered to be quite scandalous behaviour at the time! – and she had her hair cut short. This side of Júlia’s character was not approved of by society at that time, and illustrations and statues of Júlia from that era usually present her as a demure, modest little woman.
Sándor Petőfi and Júlia Szendrey were the perfect couple, in the sense that they both were passionate and strong-willed, that they complemented each other, and seem to have been what today we would define as the perfect Yin and Yang.

RESZKET A BOKOR, MERT…                                                                                                                                       By Sándor Petőfi

Reszket a bokor, mert
Madárka szállott rá.
Reszket a lelkem, mert
Eszembe jutottál,
Eszembe jutottál,
Kicsiny kis leányka,
Te a nagy világnak
Legnagyobb gyémántja!

Teli van a Duna,
Tán még ki is szalad.
Szívemben is alig
Fér meg az indulat.
Szeretsz, rózsaszálam?
Én ugyan szeretlek,
Apád-anyád nálam
Jobban nem szerethet.

Mikor együtt voltunk,
Tudom, hogy szerettél.
Akkor meleg nyár volt,
Most tél van, hideg tél.
Hogyha már nem szeretsz,
Az isten áldjon meg,
De ha még szeretsz, úgy
Ezerszer áldjon meg!

(Written in Pest, after November 20th, 1846)


The rosebush shakes because
A bird on its twig flew,
My own soul shakes because
I think, my dear, of you!
I think, my dear, of you,
My darling, charming maid,
Thou art the richest gem
My God has ever made.

Swollen the Danube is
So that it may o’erflow,
My heart, with love replete,
Is now for thee even so.
Tell me, my fairest rose,
Art thou to me still true?
Not even thy parents dear
Can love thee as I do.

I know thy love was mine
In last year’s summer weather;
But winter came since then
When we sojourned together.
And should’st thou love no more,
I pray God bless thee still, –
But, if thou lov’st me yet,
A thousandfold he will!

(Translated by WM. N. LOEW)

Looking back at 2016: 13 reasons we loved last year

No. 1: We had the opportunity to continue working with so many amazing people. We learn something from each and every person and have a huge amount of respect for everyone who decides to learn this weird and wonderful language.

No. 2: Having successfully passed their Simplified Naturalisation interviews, a few of our learners became Hungarian citizens. Congratulations to Elena, Joe, Hunter and Brian – we know how incredibly hard you have all worked so you totally deserve this.

No. 3: We had quite a few people who passed their citizenship interviews this year. Now we can’t wait to hear about the positive outcome of the application process and hope they will get invited to an oath ceremony soon.

No. 4: During the summer, Renata spent two weeks in Pécs, attending the University’s training course for teachers. This fantastic course was delivered by Szilvia Szita and Kata Pelcz, authors of the MagyarOK book series and we very much think these are the best books currently on the market and the course itself was very informative and inspirational.

No. 5: We continued translating your important documents. Amongst others, we translated all sorts of certificates (birth-, marriage- and death certificates and also divorce decrees), contracts and personal letters. We very much enjoy the thorough work every translation needs and hope to translate more of these documents in 2017. Every single document is worked on by two people: one translating and the other one proofreading the translation. We have our own stamp and each translation we provide is a certified translation accepted by Consulates around the world.

No. 6: We continued to deliver English lessons and started preparing people for the Life in the UK test. Passing this test is needed in order to apply for British Citizenship. Both of us being dual British-Hungarian citizens, we very much believe dual citizenship is useful and important for every Hungarian living in the UK and this is even more the case now the UK has voted for Brexit.

No. 7: We found ourselves branching out in new directions, since several of our students asked us to provide them instruction and advice on how to write official letters in Hungarian, and also to help them prepare for the oath ceremony, so that they would be able to take part in this special event feeling confident and proud, which they did!

No. 8: There were several occasions last year when we were able to be of assistance to our learners in situations that were important for them.  For example, Julia helped Wissam order a traditional Hungarian costume for his lovely daughter, who as part of a school project introduced Hungary as her favourite country. We were delighted when Wissam shared photos of his little girl at the ’Hungarian stand’ she had set up, complete with a real Hungarian flag – handmade in Hungary! – and lángos for the hungry visitors – I wonder who made the lángos!

No. 9: Shade stayed some days in Budapest, but he was also determined to travel to the small country town where his great grandparents had lived before they emigrated to America in the late 1890s. Julia was very worried when Shade contacted her, asking about the cost of a taxi from Budapest to Parád – there was no way she would let him spend that much! – and she managed to put him in contact with a ridesharing website, and he was able to organise his trip himself, although he is only a beginner in Hungarian. At the end of his day trip, Shade did the 2-hour journey back to Budapest on the bus, opting to experience real, everyday life in Hungary. His driver only knew a few words in English in typing, and almost none in speech, yet Shade was able to meet at the department store near his room on Rakóczi út at the right time. The driver left him off in Gyöngyös, and Shade found a bus from there. The bus driver forgot to tell him when they got to Parád, but Shade saw a building with “Parád” on the side and jumped up in time. Julia was very proud of him, and she smiled when he wrote, “Not many people speak English outside Budapest, do they?”

No. 10: In 2016 lovely people who have made Hungary their home have continued and have begun learning with us. It is so refreshing to hear how positively they feel about Hungary, and how they appreciate the country, her people and Hungarian culture. Surely, such positive thoughts and energy help to make the world a better place.

No. 11: In October, our learner Bill and his wife Ágnes travelled down by train from their home in Budapest to spend the day with Julia and her husband.  They visited János’s apiary (bee yard) and had a very entertaining bilingual morning there.  It was such a pleasure for them to meet in person – icing on the cake of a friendship that has flourished during the months of Hungarian language learning on Skype.

No. 12: We started translating documents for bilingual weddings back in 2014, and since then, each year we were approached by people requesting assistance with their wedding.
In 2014 we had the privilege to assist with Jono’s and Erica’s wedding, in 2015 Chris’s and Csilla’s and Zsolti’s and Tania’s fantastic weddings took place and in 2016 it was Giannis’s and Kinga’s turn. We do realise that a wedding is one of the most important events in every couple’s life and although our share was just a small part in the success of these days, we felt we had a huge responsibility in making these weddings the special occasions they deserved to be.
For some of these weddings, we provided our translation service and translated the texts of the legal ceremonies, the blessings, the families’ speeches, best man speeches and most importantly, the vows themselves. Some other weddings, we also went in person, and provided in-person interpreting services to make sure the two families were able to talk to each other and that there were no communication barriers on these very important days.
Now we are wondering: who will get married in 2017? If it’s You, and would like our linguistic assistance for your big day, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and have a chat with Renata about how we could help you.

No. 13: To close the year in a celebratory fashion, at the end of November we went with our London learners to the Hungarian restaurant The Rosemary for a Hungarian meal. The food was of course delicious, it was a great opportunity for our learners to get to know each other, and chat about their experience of learning Hungarian. When ordering their food, as part of experiential learning, our learners were able to use their Hungarian in an authentic communicational situation. We are currently in the process of organising our next dinner together to which hopefully Julia will also come over from Hungary to join us!

Many thanks to Wissam, Bill and Shade for sending us their photos and allowing us to use them for this article.





Going on holiday to Hungary? Let’s practise your Hungarian!

The title may sound a bit strange, but I know how easy it is to go on a holiday and NOT use the language you have been learning. It had happened to me before: I went to Germany to attend a professional development course and because my German is a bit rusty, I opened my mouth and English words came out. So in the end I decided I would take it easy and just speak English. Then I came back to London and was extremely frustrated and annoyed with myself: I had an opportunity to practise my German and didn’t take it.
So if you are planning a trip to Hungary and have been taking lessons please read on to find out what challenges you will face, how you can overcome these and find more opportunities to practise your Hungarian.

Around three weeks ago, two of our learners (an amazing couple) went to Hungary. I put together some unusual homework for the trip to inspire them to learn as much Hungarian as they can whilst in Budapest. Then I posted this in our FB group ‘Hungry for Hungarian’ and a few lovely people also added their two cents. Here is our advice:

1. It will be tempting to use your English: many people in Hungary speak great English and as soon as they hear you have an English accent (or any accent for that matter) they will try to talk to you in English. But make sure you stick to your gun – think of it as a free lesson, you are there to practise your Hungarian so do SPEAK HUNGARIAN. You could do what one of our learners, Brian did and just tell people: ’Nem beszélek angolul. Beszél japánul?’ (Or whatever rare language you may speak as a native or a second language.) Chances are the person won’t turn around and start talking to you in Japanese, Vietnamese or Urdu.
Brian says: ‘I lived through this and spoke at length. a) If it is a young Hungarian (aged between 20-40) they usually speak very well in English but not in German or Russian. b) If they are late 50s or 60s+, they don’t usually speak English but do speak some German or Russian. (I actually loved this part as I speak German and Russian and it made for a very nice conversation.) I learned so much from the lovely elderly at the Rudas Gyógyfürdő , after classes three times a week. One day a few months ago during my studies, a very nice elderly gentlemen who only spoke German wanted to know how to get to the Buda side from Pest, the 20s something lady at the pékség could not understand and so I stepped in and said to the elderly man in German, let me help you. I directed him to the Buda side via the villamos and the sweet girl in the bakery started speaking English and I said sorry but can we only communicate in Hungarian. She agreed and thanked me with Csöröge like my nagymama used to make. So just ask nicely and state you don’t speak English (in magyarul) of course.
2. Go into a bookshop and buy a book, magazine or DVD entirely in Hungarian. Write down five words the shop assistant used and you recognised and understood them. (If you want to you could record the conversation on your mobile phone and listen and take notes later.)
3. In a restaurant, study the menu. Write down the name of three dishes that you like, find intriguing or would like to look up in Google pictures or perhaps try next time.
Also write down and learn the name of the dish you chose to eat and underline the words here that could go with this dish: finom, szörnyű, fantasztikus, olcsó, drága, hús, vegetáriánus, zsíros, leves, zöldség, tészta, krumpli
Of course, don’t forget to order in Hungarian!
4. Go the a market hall (called Nagycsarnok, or Fővám téri központi vásárcsarnok: or any shop (which is not a self-service supermarket) and buy some fruit, vegetables or anything you need in Hungarian.

By Thaler Tamas (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Thaler Tamas (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Ask and take a note of how much these things cost:
egy fej saláta: ……. forint
egy kiló krumpli: ……. forint
egy kiló alma: …… forint
egy kiló kenyér: …….. forint
egy liter tej: …….. forint
egy tejföl: ……. forint
If the person behind the counter has the time and is willing to chat with you, try to strike up a conversation, you could tell them you are learning Hungarian and ask what food they recommend you should try or which place to go.
5. Go to a movie and watch a Hungarian film. Or watch an English language film you’ve seen a few times so you will understand the Hungarian spoken. Write down the title of the film and a few words you want
to look up in a dictionary.
6. Go to one of the spas (eg., or and try to talk to the locals like Brian did.

By Roberto Ventre (Flickr: Gellért Gyogyfurdo - Budapest) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Roberto Ventre (Flickr: Gellért Gyogyfurdo – Budapest) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

7. Spend the afternoon learning how to cook a Hungarian dish (if you google ’főzőiskola’ you will find a few). If you are around A2 level you could go to a Hungarian cooking class and improve your Hungarian as well as your culinary skills.
8. Angel says: ‘As I walked in my small village and Budapest, I wrote everything I didn’t understand. Business signs were good–doctor’s offices, pharmacies, gyms, signs on buses and metro, then I challenged myself to remember next time I walked. Museums usually have info for exhibits in magyarul and angolul – if I really loved something, I copied the magyarul, then the memory of that visit became sweeter. Oh, and I practiced my pronunciation with the announcements on the metro. It was important to be able to read ingredients on labels. Speaking of cost–try catching the total of anything you buy, without looking at the receipt they hand you or the register–quite a challenge for me.’
9. My colleague Julia has a
lso added her two cents: Sit in a coffeehouse or outside one and listen to Hungarians speaking. How much do you understand? What familiar phrases do you hear? What do you notice about the intonation and pace of speaking? In a coffeehouse you can easily make notes without being conspicuous. A very special Hungarian coffeehouse is the New York Kávéház. (

By Andreas Poeschek, - Andreas Poeschek,, CC BY-SA 2.0 at,

By Andreas Poeschek, – Andreas Poeschek,, CC BY-SA 2.0 at,

Over the past 120 years since its opening it has been a renowned centre for literature and history in the making, and has become known as the World’s Most Beautiful Coffeehouse!

10. Most importantly, enjoy Hungary! Please share any tips and comments with us below. Many thanks!



Thank you so much to Angel, Brian and my amazing colleague Julia for their valuable tips.








The direct object of the verb – how Hungarian tackles flexible word order

Many of you who have, or who are studying Hungarian with us at Hungarian Language Solutions speak more than one language, so you are familiar with various grammatical terms, and with how grammatical structures work in the languages you speak. It can be reassuring to hear your teacher talk about, for example, the dative and genitive case, as this serves as a reminder that no matter how exotic or way-out a ‘foreign’ language may be, we humans have been able to observe and identify the linguistic building blocks of LANGUAGE, and we are able to apply this knowledge when learning any language we decide we want to. If only it were as simple as that! Because, not all of us are multilingual, or even bilingual.  For some of you who are interested in learning Hungarian, it may have been many years since you had any kind of language lesson at school, and perhaps you found the grammar constructions you were taught then to some extent confusing , and you may have forgotten much of the terminology you were expected to learn at the time. Don’t let that discourage you! Remember, human language is an intrinsic natural phenomenon. Some linguists consider language to be faculty humans are born with, and that we have a natural ability to develop this capacity. My point is that human language is not something mystical and unfathomable. I am convinced that it is natural for any of us to connect with other languages, and that we all have the ability to absorb and utilize non-native languages.

Of course, knowledge of grammar speeds up and facilitates the language learning process. So, don’t be intimidated by grammar rules, because discovering how a language works is fascinating and fun. When in real, living linguistic expression we recognise the grammatical structures and parts of speech we learnt about during language study, it can be a true revelation and very exciting. Let us consider the accusative case in Hungarian, and then read a poem which demonstrates beautifully how this case functions in the Hungarian language.

In the accusative case, the object receives the direct action of the verb. In some languages, a noun takes a specific position in a sentence to make it function as a direct object. This happens when a language uses strict syntax or word order. Hungarian is a language with flexible word order, and to tackle this, in the accusative case the direct object of the verb takes the accusative suffix –t. Sometimes this suffix is presented with its linking vowel, and so we have a choice of –t, -ot, -at, -et, -öt as the accusative suffix.  Those of you who are familiar with vowel harmony in Hungarian will understand why the linking vowel for the suffix -t is not always the same! Thus, although in the Hungarian language the position of a direct object in a sentence depends on, for example, what one wishes to emphasise with the sentence structure, the direct object will always be identifiable, and there will be no confusion as to the meaning of the sentence.  Of course, remember that not every Hungarian word ending in ‘t’ functions as a direct object in the sentence! When learning nouns, pay attention to the accusative forms and look out for exceptions.
The general rules are the following:
– If the word ends in a vowel, or the consonants l, ly, n, ny, r, s, sz, z, zs the ending is usually -t without a linking vowel: kocsit (car), lányt (girl), banánt (banana).
Of course do not forget that if the last vowel of the word is -a, or -e it becomes long when the suffix –t is added: medve  medvét, alma  almát, éjszaka→éjszakát.
– Back and mixed vowel words usually take -o as a linking vowel: szomszédot (neighbour), virágot (flower), paradicsomot (tomato).
– Front vowel words take ‘e’ as a linking vowel: gyereket (child), mézet (honey).
– Rounded vowel words (where the last syllable contains a rounded vowel: ö ő ü ű) usually take -ö as a linking vowel: gyümölcsöt (fruit), bőröndöt (suitcase). Even so, there are exceptions and they are usually short, one-syllable words:
(book) = könyv→könyvet;
(ear) = fül→fület;
– Those short, one syllable words we mentioned above are quite often problematic, not only when they have a rounded vowel in the stem. With these, the linking vowel may be an -a: házat (house), tollat (pen). So it’s best to check your dictionary.
– With compound words follow the rule you have learnt already: the last part of the compound decides vowel harmony: számítógépet (computer), óratervet.
– In foreign words you need to check the last syllable to determine the linking vowel: koncertet (concert). *

In the following poem by Nagy László you will be able to recognize the accusative case, and you will notice how the nouns are inflected in the accusative.  You can listen to Nagy László’s rendering of his poem at this link:
Nagy_László_1972 The poet László Nagy

Some words from the poem:
szerencse = luck;
szerelem = love;
kemence = kiln, oven;
gabona = grain;
parola (from the French) = word of honour expressed by a handshake;
láng = flame;
válasz = answer;
fények = lights;
élet = life

The title of the poem is God give me (adni = to give;  Isten = God)

Nagy László: Adjon az Isten

Adjon az Isten
Adjon az Isten
szerelmet, forró
üres vékámba
árva kezembe
lámpámba lángot,
ne kelljen
korán az ágyra hevernem,
kérdésre választ
ő küldjön,
hogy hitem széjjel
ne dűljön,
adjon az Isten
temetők helyett
életet –
nekem a kérés
nagy szégyen
adjon úgyis, ha
nem kérem.

Few literary translations of this poem have been produced. But the language and expression used is clear and natural, and with some dictionary work, you will be able to understand it, and perhaps you could even write your own translation of this beautiful piece of poetry. I hope you feel inspired to!
How did you like this poem? Have you managed to find all the objects? Please let us know in a comment – we would love to hear what you think!


*: We have used our favourite grammar book: Szita Szilvia – Görbe Tamás: Gyakorló
magyar nyelvtan (A Practical Hungarian Grammar) page 124, Akadémia Kiadó,
Budapest, 2014. You can buy it here:






Hungry for more Hungarian? Let’s make 2016 a good year!

As we start the new year here at Hungarian Language Solutions, we can’t help looking back at 2015 and think of the amazing people we worked with and the goals we helped achieve. We worked hard and completed several important translating projects, as well as having continued our usual translation work involving official documents and specialised texts. Because we can provide certified translations that are endorsed by the Embassy, we are able to offer this translation service to those of our clients who are studying on our language courses in preparation for the Hungarian Citizenship Interview. Feedback from our clients shows that they are impressed with the flexibility with which we work, and it is convenient to have the whole package available from one service provider.
Since Hungarian Language Solutions began in 2009, we have helped numerous individuals prepare for successful citizenship interviews, which are part of the naturalization procedure. Hungarian citizenship is very close to our hearts: both of us have dual, British-Hungarian citizenships.       Hungry for more Hungarian - architecture
During a Hungarian Citizenship Interview, the applicant is required to demonstrate a certain level of proficiency in the Hungarian language. Understandably, we are very proud of our clients when they clear this hurdle, for they have worked very hard at their language learning in order to be able to declare that they “understand and speak the Hungarian language”. For this reason, our Hungarian language courses are built on the communicative approach to language learning. Our aim is for our learners to be able to understand and respond to the questions or inquiries posed to them, and to be relaxed and confident enough to show that they are friendly, open individuals. All of them are excited about the possibility of gaining Hungarian citizenship, and of course very proud of their Hungarian origin and fond of the cultural ties. We want these things to be evident at the interview, and this is what we aim for as we work with our learners.    Hungry for more Hungarian - cakes
We have a number of learners who passed their Citizenship Interviews in 2015 and are now sitting tight waiting to be granted citizenship. 2016 started well: two of our lovely learners have just received invitations to attend their oath ceremonies and we couldn’t be more excited for them.

Hungry for more Hungarian - Christmas markets


Stepping into 2016, we are full of plans for developments, but one thing won’t change: we treat every single client as we would like to be treated ourselves. With translation projects we produce high-qualitiy translations that read like originals, always meet the agreed deadlines and it goes without saying that we adhere to strict confidentiality. When it comes to delivering Hungarian language lessons, we treat every learner as they were our only client and feel privileged to be able to join them on this very important, special journey. We carry on offering a first, free lesson to each new learner so that people can see what they get for their money before they commit themselves.
In 2016, we continue to build our bridge between cultures.


28th August – National Goulash Day

I’d like to say I had been familiar with the 28th of August being National Goulash Day, when Leanda posted about it in our Facebook group. I had not. But I guess you learn something new every day, so I have embraced the idea and thought we should put a recipe and pictures on the website.
But before I share my family recipe I can’t help but I must to tell you about the etymology of the word. Hungarians have been cooking this dish for centuries (perhaps even longer), since the time when we were horsepeople. The Hungarian word ‘gulyás’ means herdsman. Even today, when there is a family get-together, we cook this dish in a ‘bogrács’ on an open fire in the garden. I think this probably goes back to our ancestry, and it feels so nice to sit around the big pot knowing something delicious in being cooked. This dish is not the same if you try to cook it on the hob – the smoke certainly adds a good bit of flavour. Hungarian goulash cooked in my parents' garden
Interestingly, goulash is how this dish is known everywhere in the world. But in Hungary ‘gulyás’ is a soup: essentially the same dish, but with more water added. What we call goulash in English is ‘pörkölt’ in Hungarian.

So here comes my dad’s recipe –  he does not add any tomato as he says it will make it a bit sour – I prefer to add at least a couple, when I cook this dish. You can add more tomato, or other vegetables, but this is the basic recipe for a very simple, no fuss dish. Dad calculates 1 kg meat for 3 people – I guess this just shows how much we eat…
1kg meat,
0.3 kg red onion (chopped into very small pieces, so that they don’t burn when you start cooking them)
2 cloves of garlic,
salt, pepper to taste,
2 green paprika,
some caraway to taste,
and most importantly, a heaped spoon of grained red paprika.
He also adds what we call ‘Vegeta’ in Hungary – a type of mixed seasoning. Other friends of mine add ‘gulyáskrém’ (paste you can buy in a tube), but I’m trying to avoid additives in my food, so I skip these.

First, you make a stew base using some oil and the chopped onion. Every time I cook this dish and tell my dad about it his first question is: have you used enough onion? You haven’t burnt the onion, have you? And it’s true I guess: the more onion you use the more sauce you will have and also, you need to sweat the onions to a golden colour, not fry them on a high heat. My dad cooking his 'signature dish' - it seems like there is not much in the pot, but it's a big one!
At this point, you can add the diced meat and fry it until the liquid evaporates. Now you can put the grained red paprika on it and stir it quickly. Make sure you don’t burn the paprika, otherwise the dish will have a bitter taste. Add some water, and then the salt, pepper, caraway and garlic. Add the chopped green peppers and whatever other vegetable you are using.
From here on, you just need to boil it – add some more water, depending on how thick a sauce you would like.

Traditionally, we eat this dish with ‘nokedli’ (Hungarian noodles) or potato, but rice, or any other side dish is fine, of course.

Jó étvágyat! (Enjoy your meal!)

PS: Please do let us know if you have cooked this and how it turned out! Thank you!



Learn the numbers in Hungarian!

This week I realised: we have so much audio material, but we haven’t prepared one for the numbers yet. So these are the numbers from zero to thirty in Hungarian:

0     nulla
1     egy                     11     tizenegy                            21     huszonegy
2     kettő, két*           12     tizenkettő, tizenkét*          22      huszonkettő, huszonkét*
3     három                13     tizenhárom                       23      huszonhárom
4     négy                   14     tizennégy                          24      huszonnégy
5     öt                        15     tizenöt                              25      huszonöt
6     hat                      16     tizenhat                            26      huszonhat
7     hét                      17     tizenhét                            27      huszonhét
8     nyolc                  18     tizennyolc                         28      huszonnyolc
9     kilenc                 19     tizenkilenc                        29      huszonkilenc
10   tíz                      20      húsz                                30      harminc         Learn the numbers in Hungarian!

The number 2 has two different forms.
a) If it is used in the attributive position (this means the thing the number refers to comes after it), you should use ‘két’. E.g. ‘két kocsi’ (‘two cars’), ‘két kutya’ (‘two dogs’).
b) If the thing the number refers to does not come after it (the number is used on its own), you should use ‘kettő’.
E.g. ‘Hány kocsid van?’
‘Hány kutyád van?’

The same thing happens not just to 2, but to 12, 22, 32 and all numbers ending in ‘2’.

If we want to emphasise the number for some reason, ‘kettő’ may also be used attributively (before the thing it refers to).

Please listen to this Recording of Hungarian numbers from 0 – 30 before we move on and learn the rest of the numbers. (Unfortunately, I don’t know how to set for the recording to open in a new window, so please click on it with the middle button of your mouse and it will open in a new window. Once you have started the recording, please come back to this page and follow the text on the screen.) I have left a little gap after each number – this is for you to repeat the number after me!

In the next few days we will add more posts teaching you the numbers, so if you are interested, please check back soon!

Thank you!




No, seriously – who is he? (Communication can be fun in a bilingual, English-Hungarian family!)

I’m sure many of us, finding ourselves in a foreign-language environment, and using the elementary knowledge we have of the language – which to our mind ‘isn’t bad’ – have been able to get a pretty good idea of what those around us are talking about. At the level preceding this, the foreign language is so new to us we are extremely surprised at how similar it is to our own native language! They use so many of our words, and the names of objects and people are so familiar… Our languages must be related somehow, even if they belong to completely different language families!
This is how my brother Peter must have felt many years ago when he was still at pre-elementary level in his Hungarian. Peter and his family were staying with us at our home in Martfű, a pleasant little town in the Great Hungarian Plain beside the River Tisza. You can imagine the bustle and excitement in a house full of four- to fourteen-year-olds, with animated interaction between adults and children, and everyone wanting to be heard and understood in their own language. The irate mother (me) is trying desperately to keep discipline and order among her Hungarian-speaking sons and daughter and her English-speaking nieces. Likewise Peter and Miranda, who are attempting the same with their daughters, niece and nephews. “Téboly!” – a Hungarian speaker would cry; “It’s a madhouse!” – so the Englishman.
Knowing little of the mysteries of Hungarian grammar, Peter was still oblivious of the ‘roppant érdekes’ (extremely interesting) way in which the infinitive tenni (to put) takes its form in the imperative. Nor was he quite clear on the meaning of the word vissza (adverb, means ‘back’ in Hungarian) – although it certainly sounded familiar to him! Finally, no longer able to suppress his curiosity, and with Hungarian-English words and expressions whistling past his ears, Peter asked, “Who’s that bloke Ted Vissza you keep mentioning?” All I could do was laugh and say:”He’s a friend of that guy Ted Le!” *


For Theodore, who did so well preparing for his citizenship interview, so he knows why I laughed when he said I could call him Ted.

Communication can be fun in a bilingual, English-Hungarian family!

* Julia’s comments: ‘Tedd vissza!’ means ‘Put (it) back!’ in Hungarian. ‘Tedd le!’ means ‘Put (it) down!’.

Do schools kill creativity?

Do schools kill creativityThe other day I watched a video on YouTube dealing with the education system and the influence it has on natural human creativity. The video was of the 20-minute talk given at the end of a conference by Sir Ken Robinson. He raised some interesting points, and gave a very graphic explanation of how the aim of most schools is to train and programme children to meet academic requirements. Gradually, the creative instincts of children die because they are not nurtured, and individuals who are artistic rather than academic eventually believe they are inferior to those who are good at maths and science.
It is strange how great a shift takes place when children go to elementary school. In Hungary children start ‘real’ school at the age of six or perhaps seven. Until then, during the years they attend nursery school, their days are filled with play, fairy and folk stories, music and children’s rhymes, painting and drawing. Children are encouraged to be creative; at least, they are exposed to many things that provide an outlet for their creativity. Then, when children leave nursery school and begin their first year at elementary or primary school, they are suddenly faced with new demands. They must learn to conform to standard requirements. Children must practise until they are able to form letters that precisely match those the teacher has inscribed on the board, and a picture that is an expression of a child’s most creative thoughts is pigeonholed according to a number (mark) the teacher scribbles at the bottom of the drawing.
And yet, creativity is said to be an important aspect of intelligence. Most modern IQ tests include sections that measure creativity, because we now realise that human intelligence is not purely a mental thing, but is also emotional and creative. Why is it, then, that so much emphasis is placed on the sciences, and that mathematics is still at the top of subject hierarchy? One reason is that parents encourage their children to study and do well in subjects that will help them find employment. Hardly anyone would agree that studying art or acting was the sure way to a successful career. Likewise, very few writers can boast of being financially secure. If so, it has taken them years to make themselves a name.

Most schools feel obliged to offer a curriculum in line with society’s expectations; indeed, there are certain governmental stipulations that regulate what is taught in schools, and even the methods that can be used.
However, there are schools that diverge from generally accepted content and methodology in order to allow children to develop their abilities and natural creativity. These include the Waldorf and Montessori schools, which are not mainstream, but are still the choice of thousands of parents all over the world, who want their children to have an education that nurtures creativity and allows children to develop their natural talents and abilities. The existence of such schools shows that there is still hope for human creativity.

At Hungarian Language Solutions we try using this natural creativity during our lessons and help you reconnect with your inner creative self. We watch you very closely to see which are the areas you enjoy and where you feel most creative. This is very important, as this happens to be the same place where you can achieve the creative state called the ‘Flow’ (for more information on this please read our article)
Our aim is to keep you in this creative state and use it wisely, so we design exercises that help us do this. This way, hopefully, we don’t just teach Hungarian, but add something you enjoy, something extra that enhances your life!
What do you think? Do you find it easy to reconnect with your inner creative self? Do you find doing this helps when learning Hungarian?

Planning a holiday in Hungary? Stay at the Hadváris’ Hungarian Holiday Let!

In the past few years we have been asked many times to recommend a taxi driver, who doesn’t overcharge, a good restaurant, or a place to stay. A couple of our learners have commented: ‘When I was in Hungary together with my Hungarian girlfriend / wife everything seemed to be cheaper compared to when I was on my own.’ At this point we were ashamed for all those people who should have been ashamed for themselves and wished to show the real Hungary and Hungarian hospitality.
Now we’ve got someone we can wholeheartedly recommend: a friend of mine, Gábor Hadvári is now offering an apartment for tourists to stay in the 2nd district of Budapest.
I could mention many good things about Gábor and his wife as hosts, but probably the most important is that they are the kind of decent, sharing people who take care of their guests in that old-fashioned, nice Hungarian way, making sure their guests have everything they need for a memorable time.

The Hadváris' Hungarian Holiday Let_bedroomThe apartment is 65 square meters large, and great for 2 – 4 people to share. Gábor has put two packages together, and offers a 3+1 bonus night, or a one week stay. But there is a possibility to have the apartment for a longer period also, and if you are moving to Hungary and planning to find a long-term place to rent, this would be a cheaper option for the interim than a hotel. Gábor and his wife Ica were born and bred in The Hadváris' Hungarian Holiday Let_swimming poolBudapest so they will help you with a huge amount of insider’s knowledge on the city.
We think it’s great that as well as providing accommodation, Gábor has put a full package together, which includes transfers from/to the airport, a welcome drink, a lovely Hungarian dinner, a full day tour of Budapest, use of the pool, barbecue and garden, Wi-Fi, and lots of local info on where to go shoppinThe Hadváris' Hungarian Holiday Let_bathroomg, eat out, etc.

The short-stay package costs 54,000 HUF per person (at the time of writing this article around GBP 154, or USD 240, or EUR 180) and for this amount you get 3 nights plus an extra night free, plus all the above extras.
The one-week package costs 80,500 HUF per person (at the time of writing this is around GBP 229, or USD 355, or EUR 268) and for this amount you get one week stay plus all the above mentioned extras.
You can find more info and pictures on the Hadváris’ website:

As a small, specialist business the most important things we have are happy customers, the knowledge and experience we have accumulated over the years and our great reputation. So of course, it’s a big responsibility for us to recommend someone, but we know that the Hadváris’ are genuinely decent people, so we decided to work with them on this project as their UK contact people. If you are interested in staying in their apartment, or would like more details, please contact us and we are more than happy to tell you more.