Simplified Grammar of the Hungarian Language/Alphabet

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The Hungarian alphabet comprises the following forty letters:—

Capitals. Small. Capitals. Small. Capitals. Small.
A a I i P p
Á á Í í R r
B b J j S s
C c K k Sz sz
Cs cs L l T t
D d Ly ly Ty ty
Ds ds M m U u
E e N n Ú ú
Ė ė Ny ny Ü ü
É é O o Ű ű
F f Ó ó V v
G g Ö ö Z z
Gy gy Ő ő Zs s
H h

C c was formerly written Cz or cz, and is still used by some Hungarian writers, but is falling into disuse.

Ė or ė is always written and printed without accent, and often pronounced like e.

Of these, fifteen are vowels:—a, e, ė, i, o, ö, u, ü, short; and á, é, í, ó, ő, ú, ű, long. The rest are consonants.

The long vowels are distinguished by accents (′ or ″), while the short ones take a diæresis or are left unaccented.

They are pronounced:

a as o in God, e.g., kar, an arm.
á  „ a  „ far,   „ vár, a castle.
e  „ e  „ bed,   „ nem, no.
ė  „ u  „ but,   „ kėnyér, bread.
é  „ a  „ fate,   „ pénz, money.
i  „ i  „ bill,   „ bimbó, a bud.
í  „ ee  „ bee,   „ ív, an arch.
ó  „ o  „ toll,   „ , a horse.
u  „ u  „ bull,   „ futni, to run.
ú  „ oo  „ pool,   „ rút, ugly.
o is the short sound of o in toll;
it is not to be pronounced as
in God, but as is heard in the
German word Koralle; as—
bor, wine.
ő as u in fur, or the German
ö in Höhle; as—
bőr, skin, leather.
ö is the short sound of the
foregoing, as is heard in the
German word Götter; as—
föld, earth.
are the short and long
sounds heard in the German
words Hütte and Hühner,
or the French u in reculé
and plus; as—
fül, ear.
tűz, fire.

The consonants are called single (b, d, g, &c.) or combined (cs, gy, ly, &c.).

The combined letters have been adopted to supply the deficiency of the Latin alphabet in symbols for representing the forty sounds or articulations which the Hungarian language comprises. They must be looked upon as one single letter only, representing one single and distinct sound or articulation, and cannot be divided in spelling or pronunciation.

Note.—If in a word the sound of a combined consonant is heard with greater stress, that is, where these letters are to be written double, they are thus abbreviated: for cscs, ccs; for gygy, ggy; &c. But if these consonants meet only by means of suffixes or putting together of words (compounds), they must be written out in full. Also when a word is broken off at the end of a line, the missing letter is to be replaced; e.g., asszony (woman) is divided thus: asz-szony.

The consonants are pronounced:—

c (or cz) as ts in its, or the German z; e.g., citrom, a lemon.
cs as ch in church, e.g. csend, silence.
ds as chj in joke, e.g. findsa, a cup.
g (hard) as chg in God, e.g. galamb, a dove.
j (soft) as chy in you, e.g. , good.
s as sh in shoe, e.g. sas, an eagle.
sz as chs in sir, e.g. szabó, a tailor.
ly is heard in million, e.g. ilyen, such.
ny (as is heard in new or in the French word Champagne), e.g. nyúl, a hare.
ty, as is heard in tune; e.g. tyúk, a hen.
gy is pronounced like d in duty; e.g. gyürü, a ring.
h is always aspirated, as in hatter; e.g. három, three.
r (harder than in English, and always vibrated,
whether preceded or followed by a vowel), as in barren;
e.g. róka, a fox.

The rest are pronounced as in English.

The Hungarian language has no diphthongs and no mute letters. Every character is to be pronounced distinctly and in full, always retaining the same sound, and each word in as many syllables as it contains vowels. For instance: fiaim has three syllables and is pronounced fi-a-im.

Vowels are divided into:—

(a) Flats: a, á, o, ó, u, ú;
(b) Sharps: e, ė, ő, ö, ü, ű; and
(c) Mediates: é, i, í.

Flats and sharps never occur in the same word, and accordingly as the vowels are of the one or the other class, the words are said to be sharp or flat, and only take suffixes with vowels of their respective class. The mediates occur in both, and such words are then called mixed; they take the suffixes either of the one or of the other class.

Note.—This rule does not prevent, however, the formation of compound substantives of heterogeneous words, but applies only to etymological derivatives. So, for instance, selyemruha is a compound of selyem (silk) and ruha (a gown).

The emphasis rests always on the first syllable.