How to pronounce Hungarian vowels and double-digit consonants

When people start learning Hungarian they are usually very conscious about their pronunciation. But please believe me: if you keep practising (listening to Hungarian CDs, the Hungarian radio, or having lessons) your pronunciation will be fine and people will understand you. At the end of the day, your aim is not to win a pronunciation competition, but to communicate with people and if you stick to practising, you will certainly be able to do that.Hungarian vowels and double-digit consonants

On the other hand, I perfectly understand where this self-consciousness might come from: I used to be like this with my English when we first moved to the UK. Now I have been living here for nine years and still have a strong Hungarian accent! However, if I was waiting for my accent to disappear, I would probably never say a word. (A Hungarian accent is notoriously difficult to lose and the chances are that I will still have it in thirty years’ time.)

But to make your life a bit easier, I have prepared a short recording on Hungarian vowels and consonants. Whilst listening to it, please refer to the list below and have a look at the words I’m saying. This way, as well as hearing the words, you can see them written down in front of you, so you will be able to understand what I’m referring to. When you hear a gap in the recording, that is for you to repeat the word please.

So here is the list of vowels and consonants I go through, please click here to have a listen.

  • Vowels

long and short vowels: a – á, e – é , i – í, o – ó, ö – ő, u – ú, ü –ű

a              alma (apple), magyar (Hungarian)

á              Magyarország (Hungary)

e             te (you)

é             én (I)

i               Szia! (Hi!)

í               tíz (ten)

o             Jó napot kívánok! (Good Day!)

ó             jó (good)

ö             Ön (polite You), köszönöm – thank you

ő             ő (he, she)

u             Duna (Danube), gulyás (Goulasch)

ú             húsz (twenty)

ü             ül (sit), eskü (oath)

ű             tűz (fire)

  • Double-digit consonants:

ty            tyúk (hen)

cs           csak (only)

gy           magyar (Hungarian)

sz           szép (nice, beautiful)

zs           zsiráf (giraffe)

ny           nyilatkozat (statement)

ly            Erdély (Transylvania)

Please let me know in the ‘Comments’ section if you have any questions and I will be more than happy to help you!