Revisiting and revising my horribly presumptuous attempt at language instruction has been quite enjoyable. My hope is to get my Magyar back up to snuff in time to visit Transylvania with the First UU choir either next summer or in 2019.
I will readily admit that I have been checking my own accuracy via at least two sources, one of which has "Google" in its name.
The other is the ever-evolving online dictionary Sztaki Szótár. SZTAKI is the Institute for Computer Science and Control at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Szótár just means dictionary. This site can translate thousands of words and phrases between Hungarian and eight different languages: Bulgarian, Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, and Polish.
Hungarian vocabulary is easy enough. The pronunciation takes some getting used to, but it is remarkably consistent. Its habit of compounding words makes it ridiculously fun. Just remember that what looks like an acute accent is not an accent, but a long mark. A double accent, as in nő (woman) is a long mark and an umlaut combined.
The grammar and syntax, however, are a bit tricky.
- Nouns, pronouns, and sometimes adjectives take on about 20 different cases with specific functions (e.g., subject, direct object). Indo-European languages have eight grammatical cases or fewer.
- Which case ending one adds to a word usually depends on whether the word contains front (e, é, i, í, ö, ő, ü, ű) or back (a, á, o, ó, u, ú) vowels.
- Unlike most Indo-European languages, Hungarian has no grammatical gender. However, to make sure that it's understood that the person spoken about is female, Hungarian speakers might tack on nő, as in az orvosnő (the woman doctor). English has genders for pronouns exclusively; Romance languages have masculine and feminine for nouns, pronouns, or adjectives; Germanic languages (other than English) and Slavic languages have those two plus neuter.
- It has no prepositions (well, one: mint, meaning like, as), but a couple dozen postpositions to express concepts like before, behind, because of, without, and according to.
- Verbs are conjugated differently depending on whether they take a definite direct object (e.g., someone's name, the/this/that person/place/thing) or not.
You can get a sense of the wonders of Hungarian syntax from HungarianReference.com.