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Thread: Hungarian/Finnish: Which one is more difficult?

  1. #1
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    Hungarian/Finnish: Which one is more difficult?

    Hello all,

    Which of the two major Finno-Ugric languages is harder for an English speaker, Hungarian (Magyar) or Finnish (and why)? At first sight I would say Hungarian looks harder, but I know next to nothing about either language! I would really like to study one of them but I realise it will be a challenge to say the least!

    Thank you for your help.

    Nagyon köszönöm/Kiitos paljon
    Cuiusvis hominis est errare; nullius nisi insipientis in errore perseverare.

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    Re: Hungarian/Finnish: Which one is more difficult?

    Hi Avalon2004!
    I wouldn't dare to make suggestions which language - Finnish or Hungarian - would be more difficult for a native speaker of English, but you may find this discussion of interest. We were talking about the difficulcy of Finnish, but we talked about Hungarian as well.
    As for me, I'm a learner of Finnish, and I enjoy it greatly.
    Anna

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    Re: Hungarian/Finnish: Which one is more difficult?

    I study Hungarian. I had a little overview in Finnish. I think Finnish is harder. But I don't know it VERY WELL to tell...
    I think both languages are like a "mystery". Once you get to understand them, they'll get easier and easier.
    "And You've Never Met Anyone As Everything As I Am Sometimes..."

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    Re: Hungarian/Finnish: Which one is more difficult?

    I believe that at least visiting Finland is easier for an English speaker than visiting Hungary because in Finland practically everywhere you can find someone who speaks fluent English. According to my experience in Hungary it's sometimes very difficult. Anyway the situation seemed to be like this a couple of years ago, but it may be changing...

  5. #5
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    Re: Hungarian/Finnish: Which one is more difficult?

    Hi my friend

    As a native hungarian and a fromer learner of finnish, I think that these two languages have a very similar structure and the grammatical scheme is the same. This means the learning-difficulty is most likely equal. Hungarian may seem to you a little more difficult because of the strange new charachters, but the pronunciation is clear and regular.

    Good luck in the bussiness

  6. #6
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    Re: Hungarian/Finnish: Which one is more difficult?

    I have always thought Finnish is difficult, but it seems to me my native language is more difficult. Hungarian has definite and indefinite article (Finnish does not), although English or other European languages have articles, too, the usage of them differs, so one could get confused by differences. The definite and indefinite conjugation of verbs is the most difficult thing for learners of Hungarian (Finnish has not), the choice of vowels in vowel harmony is bigger in Hungarian (4 in Hungarian, 2 in Finnish?). Possessive suffixes in Hungarian are more complex. On the other hand Finnish nominal declension is complicated and Finnish has more tenses (Hungarian 3).
    [ɒkinɛk humorɒ vɒn, mindɛnˤtud, ɒkinɛk niŋʧ, mindɛnrɛ ke.pɛʃ]

  7. #7
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    Re: Hungarian/Finnish: Which one is more difficult?

    Quote Originally Posted by Encolpius View Post
    I have always thought Finnish is difficult, but it seems to me my native language is more difficult.
    Finnish tenses aren't much more difficult than the English (or Italian) ones. I believe that Hungarian is much more difficult than Finnish, but don't forget the negative verb in your list!

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    Re: Hungarian/Finnish: Which one is more difficult?

    Quote Originally Posted by sakvaka View Post
    Finnish tenses aren't much more difficult than the English (or Italian) ones. I believe that Hungarian is much more difficult than Finnish, but don't forget the negative verb in your list!
    Well, actually I did not intend to compare the two languages, that's why I did not mention the Finnish negative verb, because it is something unique but do you think there are problems to learn how to use it?
    [ɒkinɛk humorɒ vɒn, mindɛnˤtud, ɒkinɛk niŋʧ, mindɛnrɛ ke.pɛʃ]

  9. #9
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    Re: Hungarian/Finnish: Which one is more difficult?

    Quote Originally Posted by Encolpius View Post
    Well, actually I did not intend to compare the two languages, that's why I did not mention the Finnish negative verb, because it is something unique but do you think there are problems to learn how to use it?
    Well, it's certainly something unique that speakers of other languages are most likely not used to. That's why they may compose their Finnish sentences as if not were an adverb. But of course, it all depends on how well you study the grammar. Some people can catch up with new models easily.

  10. #10
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    Re: Hungarian/Finnish: Which one is more difficult?

    As for the original question, I'd think the only sure answer could be: Hungarian for a Finnish and Finnish for a Hungarian learner.
    For an English (or any other) learner I don't think it'd make much difference.

  11. #11
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    Re: Hungarian/Finnish: Which one is more difficult?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zsanna View Post
    As for the original question, I'd think the only sure answer could be: Hungarian for a Finnish and Finnish for a Hungarian learner.
    For an English (or any other) learner I don't think it'd make much difference.
    As a Hungarian native my objective opinion is: Hungarian is more difficult. And for others the same.
    [ɒkinɛk humorɒ vɒn, mindɛnˤtud, ɒkinɛk niŋʧ, mindɛnrɛ ke.pɛʃ]

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    Re: Hungarian/Finnish: Which one is more difficult?

    For Czechs and Slovaks Hungarian is easier than Finnish. We often visited Budapest or Balaton, so we knew at least the basic vocabulary: csemege, bor, paprika, szilva, barack, cseresznye, pálinka, gyöngyhajú lány, etc.

    When I was in the army (as an ordinary soldier - szegény legény) there were many Hungarians from Rimaszombat, Dunaszerda and other Slovak cities. I remember that the most frequent and useful word in the army was "bazmeg", a word of Hungarian origin. Literally any thing could be called bazmeg (Take that bazmeg! Pass me that bazmeg! ...) Especially all complex machines and weapons were composed from bazmegs.

    Later I added some Hungarian declensions and conjugations and now egy kicsit tudok magyarul.

    On the other side Finnish is still Greek (or a Spanish village, as we say) to me.
    Last edited by bibax; 21st March 2010 at 11:49 PM.

  13. #13
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    Re: Hungarian/Finnish: Which one is more difficult?

    Well, Bibax, I think you speak more than a little Hungarian. It is true Hungarian was influenced by Slavic languages, so you can find many similar-sounding words (I am not sure and cannot check now, but szilva and cseresznye must be of Slavic origin), many vulgar words are of Slavic origin, too. But when speaking of the fact which one is more difficult I am thinking of proficiency in those languages and especially of the grammar. All can memorize words, but memorizing e.g. gender in Czech or German is a little bit difficult, just like e.g if you put 3-4 suffixes at the end of a word respecting the vocal harmony.
    *ordinary soldier = baka
    Last edited by Encolpius; 21st March 2010 at 11:24 PM.
    [ɒkinɛk humorɒ vɒn, mindɛnˤtud, ɒkinɛk niŋʧ, mindɛnrɛ ke.pɛʃ]

  14. #14
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    Re: Hungarian/Finnish: Which one is more difficult?

    Quote Originally Posted by Encolpius View Post
    As a Hungarian native my objective opinion is: Hungarian is more difficult. And for others the same.
    As another Hungarian native speaker (and language teacher) I'd like to know: how do you know? What is the basis of your comparison?

  15. #15
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    Re: Hungarian/Finnish: Which one is more difficult?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zsanna View Post
    As another Hungarian native speaker (and language teacher) I'd like to know: how do you know? What is the basis of your comparison?
    I feel it.
    [ɒkinɛk humorɒ vɒn, mindɛnˤtud, ɒkinɛk niŋʧ, mindɛnrɛ ke.pɛʃ]

  16. #16
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    Re: Hungarian/Finnish: Which one is more difficult?

    I think maybe there's a tendency for people to think that their own language is more intricate than others.

  17. #17
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    Re: Hungarian/Finnish: Which one is more difficult?

    In any case, unfortunately, I don't think there are many English native speakers on the forum who studied both FI and HU and could provide a comparison that was asked originally...

  18. #18
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    Re: Hungarian/Finnish: Which one is more difficult?

    Quote Originally Posted by bibax View Post
    I remember that the most frequent and useful word in the army was "bazmeg", a word of Hungarian origin. Literally any thing could be called bazmeg (Take that bazmeg! Pass me that bazmeg! ...) Especially all complex machines and weapons were composed from bazmegs.
    To be in the army with some Slovak Magyars is a capitulum alone for itself. "bázmeg" has definitely became a modern Slovak word there (eventually with all possible words around it).

    Quote Originally Posted by bibax View Post
    When I was in the army (as an ordinary soldier - szegény legény) there were many Hungarians from Rimaszombat, Dunaszerda and other Slovak cities.
    Bibax... According to the new Slovak language rule and to the new Slovak bilingual school books for geography and history I translate these as Rimavská Sobota and Dunajská Streda.

  19. #19
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    Re: Hungarian/Finnish: Which one is more difficult?

    as I know Finnish language is hard to learn atleast their words are very long....

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    Re: Hungarian/Finnish: Which one is more difficult?

    *ordinary soldier = baka
    Thanks. I'll remember it. It resembles the Czech word bakanče = shoes worn by the infantrymen.

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