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:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smcOpm8qYU4
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
szerencsét,
szerelmet, forró
kemencét,
üres vékámba
gabonát,
árva kezembe
parolát,
lámpámba lángot,
ne kelljen
korán az ágyra hevernem,
kérdésre választ
ő küldjön,
hogy hitem széjjel
ne dűljön,
adjon az Isten
fényeket,
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!

Julia

*: 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: http://magyar-ok.hu/hu/order.html

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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?

Get in the mood for Easter – Learn a Hungarian Easter poem!

You might not know it looking out the window but spring has officially started!
On Monday we celebrate Easter, and on this day in Hungary men visit all of their women relatives, friends and colleagues. Friends in groups, fathers with their sons and single men leave early in the morning and their ‘tour’ sometimes lasts all day long. They greet girls and women with little poems and sprinkle them with cologne or water. The girls in turn treat them with hand-painted eggs and home-made cakes.
As a preparation for this, one of our learners has asked for a little Hungarian Easter poem to learn.
So Boys, if you would like to greet your Hungarian girlfriends with an Easter poem on Monday, you could learn the following:

Zöld erdőben jártam,
Kék ibolyát láttam.
El akart hervadni,
Szabad-e locsolni?

 

 

 

Have a listen to this little recording and perfect your pronunciation as well!


Teaching Hungarian in a more professional way – my journey on the PTLLS course

Two years ago, my amazing business development advisor, Leonore Lord told me about the PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector) course and how she thought having the award would help me teach in a more professional way. She could not have been more right.

Having a small business, I was eligible to apply for a City&Guilds grant and after a successful application procedure and interview I was on my way to getting enrolled!

I chose Nescot (North East Surrey College of Technology ) as my course provider and looking back now, I’m really happy with my choice.

When I had decided to take the PTLLS course my main motivation was that I wanted to become a better teacher through familiarising myself with the theoretical and practical knowledge of teaching in the lifelong learning sector. The lifelong learning sector includes all post-16 education, including further education and adult and community learning. This is the area I work in and wanted to know more about.

In the past few months I have been learning about the most important learning and teaching strategiesTeaching Hungarian in a more professional way, including roles and responsibilities of a teacher, using inclusive learning and teaching approaches, principles of assessment, etc. I have adapted my teaching strategies to achieve ‘multisensory learning’ and learnt that during the lessons I must stimulate as many senses as I possibly can so that information gets engraved and memories last a lifetime. But this will be the topic of another blogpost as well as another area I’m especially interested in: adapting teaching strategies to suit different learning styles. Here I will show you a test that will help you to identify your own learning style. Then taking this to the next level I can help you with practical examples of activities that suit different learning styles.

My goal on the PTLLS course is the same as the aim of writing these subsequent blogposts: to make your journey of learning Hungarian as enjoyable and easy as possible.

Please let me know your thoughts here or send me a message about the challenges you encounter when learning Hungarian and I will try my very best to help you. Many thanks!

 

Your questions about Hungarian citizenship answered

This has been an exceptionally busy autumn so far and I have received quite a few emails enquiring about the new Hungarian citizenship law and my experience helping people prepare for their Hungarian citizenship interviews. Although I replied to all emails I was also thinking it would be nice to compile the answers here hoping that they might be useful to others, too.

Recently I have been contacted by an American lady asking whether there is a test she needs to sit. The answer is: no, there is no test, but there is a short interview you need to pass. The purpose of the interview is to establish that you fulfil all four criteria mentioned in my previous post and to check your ability to communicate in Hungarian.

Someone else asked me whether he would be allowed to keep his current citizenship after taking up Hungarian citizenship. Of course I am no legal expert but my understanding is the following: Hungary allows dual citizenship but you need to check whether the country where you have your existing citizenship allows it also. If it does then there should be no problem and you will be able to hold both citizenships. (I am a British-Hungarian dual citizen myself: both Hungary and the UK allow dual citizenship, but please check your individual circumstances before applying for Hungarian  citizenship.)

A gentleman from Canada asked me how long in my experience it takes to become a Hungarian citizen. Well, in my experience it is quite a long process and I have heard the processing authorities are very busy. E.g. a couple of my learners applied for citizenship in July 2011 and had their interviews in Budapest in September 2011. Then it took the authorities quite a long time to process their documents and they finally had their citizenship ceremony in April 2012. Only at this point when they received their Certificate of Hungarian Citizenship were they able to apply for Hungarian passport.

I have also been asked how many lessons one needs to have in order to pass the interview. Unfortunately I can’t give a definite answer to this question: some people need more, some fewer lessons. This depends on many factors such as your ability to memorise foreign words, how much time you have to study on your own, etc. Also, some people are very confident with a limited amount of fluency (and good on them, there is nothing wrong with being confident!) and some need a bit more practice to feel confident.

If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch – this happens to be an area I am reasonably knowledgeable in and extremely passionate about!

Also, if you are preparing for your Hungarian citizenship interview or learning Hungarian for yourself without applying for citizenship please join our Facebook group ‘Hungry for Hungarian’. Here we chat about Hungarian music, literature, traditions, citizenship and all things Hungarian. By clicking on this link our group should come up and if you click ‘Request to join’ I will be able to add you. Hope to see you soon!

Free Hungarian taster sessions

At Hungarian Language Solutions, we are passionate about the Hungarian language. To celebrate Adult Learners’ Week, we would like to share this passion and inspire adults to discover this unique language.

Experience something new by working through a 45-minute, one-to-one or one-to-two taster session and find out more about the courses we run. You can choose between two themes for your lesson: ‘Holiday Hungarian’ or a general, introductory Hungarian lesson. These two themes are for beginners but we are very flexible, so if you are e.g. an intermediate or advanced learner please let us know in advance.

As we would like to make best use of time & technology enabling you to have your lesson from your home the sessions will be delivered on Skype through the Internet. Doing this, we also would like to reach out to adults who would not normally have the opportunity to have face-to-face lessons.

On Skype as well as speaking we type the words and sentences so you can hear them and at the same time see them on your screen.

System requirements:

Skype is simple to download and free of charge. It is downloadable from http://www.skype.com/intl/en-gb/get-skype/

Internet Connection: Broadband works best.

Speakers and microphone (built-in or separate): a headset is best.

Camera (built-in or separate): nice to have, but not a must.

How to book

21 taster sessions will be delivered in various slots from Sunday, 13 May 2012 to Friday, 18 May 2012. To register your attendance for this free event please contact renata@hungariansolutions.com. Renata will confirm available time slots and discuss technicalities with you.

Do you know how to get into a state of ‘Flow’ when learning a new language?

In 2011 I was lucky enough to have been awarded an EU-grant which allowed me to travel to Munich, Germany, and attend a course on intercultural communication. As part of the course I not only met six amazing professionals passionate about their chosen fields, but also learnt about the famous theorists and their work and how this can influence my own work in a very practical way.

Before attending the course there was one particular topic with regard to teaching Hungarian which was quite often on my mind. At the time I had not known there was a famous theory on this, I just felt there was ‘a narrow strip of land’ on which my learners can confidently navigate, where they find the lessons challenging without being too demanding.

For if they find the lessons too easy, they can get bored and we certainly do not want that; and if I put the bar too high, they may find the lessons too difficult, and so get frustrated and lose interest.

We discussed this with every learner of mine, and agreed that we need to communicate in an honest and very open way to make sure we can find that place where they feel comfortable, but not too comfortable. Learners’ feedback is crucial so that we can find this ‘strip of land’ which in some cases can, indeed, be quite narrow.

It was a very nice reassurance that during Assist International HR’s Intercultural Communication Course in Munich I learnt about Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (pronounced “chicks send me high” according to the Professor!), a fellow Hungarian who  worked out the theory we now refer to as the ‘Flow’. According to this, people are most happy when they are in a state of flow, i.e. when they are fully immersed and don’t even notice time passing.

According to Csíkszentmihályi some people find it easier to get into a state of ‘Flow’ than others. These are people with an autotelic personality, i.e. people whose personality traits include persistence, low self-centeredness and curiosity. However this does not mean that only this group of people can get into the ‘Flow’, on the contrary: I am sure that everyone can find this magical state and there are several methods which can help with this.

For a great view on how to achieve the ‘Creative State of Flow’, please read Victor Stachura’s superb article.

I personally think that learning a new language can be a very rewarding experience and one, that, similar to playing music, is perfectly capable of getting people into the ‘Flow’. I am also convinced that it works the other way around also: a state of ‘Flow’ can immensely help the language learning process. When I teach Hungarian I do my absolute best to get each and every person into this state and help them increase the time they spend in ‘Flow’.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you find it easy to get into the ‘Flow’?