Tag Archives: Learning Hungarian

Magyar Angol Nagyszótár =Hungarian English DictionaryMagyar Angol Nagyszótár =Hungarian English Dictionary by Laszlo Orszagh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an excellent dictionary, offering a wide range of the different uses of Hungarian words translated into idiomatic English.


There are 26 letters in the English alphabet and 26 letter divisions in English dictionaries. There are 40 letters in the traditional Hungarian alphabet including 9 accented letters and 8 digraphs and 1 tri-graph. So you would expect there to be 40 letter divisions in a Hungarian dictionary. No! There are 35!

First off, there are four letters only found in foreign words, q,w,x and y (40+4=44). Then the long vowels á, é, í, ó, ő, ú and ű are combined with the ‘synograph’ short vowels a, e, i, o, ö, u and ü.
However, ö and ő are not combined with o and ó, nor ü and ű with u and ú. In any case this brings the total down to (44-7=) 37. The final discrepancy is that dz and dzs are combined with d, making just 35. Needles to say z and zs themselves are not combined.

Because the Hungarian digraph ‘Zs’ is regarded as one letter, it comes after ‘z’ +’z’ so ‘vízzsak'(waterbag, ‘víz’+’zsak’) comes before ‘vizslat’ to seek out. Given the Hungarian enthusiasm for ‘s’ and ‘z’ (and I haven’t even mentioned their treatment of double letter combinations) I am too frightened to work out the consequences of this, and just hope I don’t need to find too many words like this.

Now if this was English you could just shrug your shoulders and say “Really, what do you expect, logic?” But this is Hungarian and I do expect logic. I suspect the logic is attached to the perverted assumption that Hungarian is a phonetic language. But please could someone spell it out for me.

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