a language primer designed for tourists and pilgrims
I am not an expert in the Hungarian language. While I have done my best to edit these pages with as much precision and accuracy as I could, there may still be mistakes. If you find them, let me know.
I first undertook this project as a primer for my fellow travelers on the First UU Church choir tour of Romania in 2006, the second such tour. My intent was to condense some Hungarian language texts down to the vocabulary and grammar points that my companions would need to communicate with Hungarian-speaking Transylvanians at tourist level. It grew into a much larger project as I became fascinated with the language and the people: I wanted to produce something that could be particularly useful to North American and British UU's traveling in the region.
My mini-obsession proved quite useful when I returned with a small group of churchmates in 2011, when I could communicate with our hosts in the village of Árkos (Arcuş) who spoke little or no English. Nearly all the ethnic magyarok in Transylvania are raised bilingual in Hungarian and Romanian; common third languages include German, Russian, and English.
Parts of the project then found their way into The Earthworm That Blows No Trumpet. In the novel, UU minister Steve Szombat leads parishioners on expeditions to Transylvania every third summer, and he provides Hungarian language instruction throughout the academic year, so a few dozen members of the UU Church of Santa Cecilia speak at least some Hungarian.
When I decided to post the text on this site, I discovered that I had lost the files for the revised version that I had compiled by 2011. The 2008 version that I was able to find was full of goofs large and small. After making considerable revisions in the first 12-plus chapters, I can now upload those chapters as Unit 1, and I will add more in the coming weeks.
I wish to acknowledge here the invaluable assistance of Zsófia Sztranyiczki, PhD. Early on, Zsófi corrected some of my incorrect impressions of this wondrous non-Indo-European language and gave me pointers on how the Hungarophone world actually speaks it.