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rendering foreign names in Hungarian

Discussion in 'Magyar (Hungarian)' started by 123xyz, Jun 22, 2013.

  1. 123xyz Senior Member

    Skopje, Macedonia
    Macedonian
    What happens with foreign personal names in Hungarian, both of people, places, and events? Is their spelling changed to approximate their pronunciation using Hungarian phonemes? So for example, if there is a person called "Славица", would her name in Hungarian turn to "Szlávicá" or something such?

    Thank you in advance
    (and I hope the topic is not too broad or out of scope of this forum)
     
  2. Olivier0 Senior Member

    Toulouse
    français - France
    Usually there is an official romanization in the passport and this is what the person uses. It can depend on the country of the passport, which can choose for instance in your example an English-like Slavitsa or a Croatian-like Slavica.
    For well-known names and places, usually a Hungarian writing is used, but with vowels a and e and not á or é: Hungarian Wikipedia describes this system here. So for instance Putyin instead of the English Putin, or Hruscsov instead of Khrushchev.
    -- Olivier
     
  3. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    As far as I know, the general rules are the following:

    1. Personal names written in Latin alphabet normally remain unchanged, e.g. William Shakespeare, Julius (Iulius) Caesar, George Bush ...

    2. Personal names written in non Latin alphabet are normally transcribed so that they maintain the original pronounciation as far as possible, e.g. Mao Ce-tung, Joszif Sztálin, Szvetlana Joszifovna Allilujeva, Püthagorasz (Pythagoras), Eurüdiké (Eurydice) ...

    So Славица should be spelt as Szlavica, but as today we live in a "globalized world", maybe this "rule" is not necessarilly valid ...

    As to the geographical names, principially the same logic is applied, e.g. Moszkva, Dnyepropetrovszk, Szófia ... But there are some toponyms that are for tradition or for historical reasons spelt differently, not according to the actual pronounciation, e.g. Athén (not *Athini), Peking (not *Bej-Dzsin, or something similar), Teherán, ...
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2013
  4. Zsanna

    Zsanna ModErrata

    Hungary
    Hungarian - Hungary
    I don't know whether it could help because the thread was in Hungarian, including the links, but have a look at this.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2013
  5. 123xyz Senior Member

    Skopje, Macedonia
    Macedonian
    Thank you for the helpful replies as well as the links. Even though they were in Hungarian, I think I've wrapped my head around them, though I will need some time to figure out what all the orthographic rules are.

    Now, in regard to the link provided by Olivier0, it says that the Macedonian "r" is rendered as an "r" and that the Macedonian apostrophe which represents the schwa sound is rendered as an "a". However, it says that if the apostrophe is in front of an "r", nothing is written. The apostrophe in front of an "r" occurs only at the beginning of words and there, in combination with the "r", it represents a syllabic "r". However, when a syllabic "r" occurs word-internally, no apostrophe is written. Having that in mind, I'm not sure if I'm supposed to transcribe names with a syllabic "r" that occur word-internally with an "a" or not, since the sound is the same as when there is an apostrophe, in which case the link says nothing should be written, but then no actual apostrophe is written. An example would be the name "Срна". Would it be transcribed as "Szrna" or "Szarna"? The first seems rather peculiar, but then so does the other one, so I can't tell.
     
  6. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    I think "Szrna". I think no extra letter should be added ("z" in "sz" is not an extra letter in this sense , as "sz"represents a unique sound). This kind of transcription is rather a practical tool and not a method for exact rendering of the original prounciation.

    (Finally in this case, in my opinion, "szrna" renders better the original pronouciation than "szarna"...)
     
  7. 123xyz Senior Member

    Skopje, Macedonia
    Macedonian
    francisgranada,

    You say that "szrna" reflects the original pronunciation better, but how is it pronounced? As far as I know, a word such as "szrna" couldn't exist in Hungarian because of the fact that there is no vowel to split up the consonant cluster of three sounds and because there is no syllabic "r" in Hungarian. Do you mean that it would it be pronounced with a syllabic "r" or a schwa sound followed by a regular "r" just since it's foreign word, despite the fact that these phonemes don't exist in Hungarian, rather like pronuncing the "ch" in the English word "loch" as a fricative rather than a stop, whereas writing "szarna" would lead one to have to pronounce what is originally a syllabic "r" as a sequence of "a" and "r", not allowing the reader/speaker to (attempt to) use (something closer to) the original pronunciation?
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2013
  8. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    Hello 123xyz!

    There is a certain tendency (in general, not only in Hungarian) to transcribe/transliterate all the letters (if possible) but not to add any extra letter (if not necessary) ... That's why we have e.g. Виктop Гюго in Russian, eventhough the initial "h" in Victor Hugo is not prounounced in French. In other words, the result is a certain "compromise". So from the practical point of view, rendering the pronounciation is not the only criterion.

    (Of course, in case of non-alphabetic writing systems as the Chinese or Korean, other criteria has to be taken in consideration)

    *********
    As to the spontaneous Hungarian pronouciation of "szrna": according to my personal experiences with Slovak and Czech words with syllabic "r" or "l", the typical case is putting a "quasi schwa" (ü/ö) before the syllabic r/l. So "szrna" could be pronounced something like "szürna" or "szörna". But this is not a rule, rather my personal observation ...

    (no schwa exists in Hungarian, so ü/ö seem to be the "nearest solution" ...)
    Yes.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2013
  9. Zsanna

    Zsanna ModErrata

    Hungary
    Hungarian - Hungary
    I find it very difficult to explain to anybody how to pronounce anything in Hungarian, especially if I don't know anything about the pronunciation of his native language but even if I could, I think it would be a painfully long and tiring thing to do...

    So my next suggestion is the following: have a look at this site (it can be found in the Hungarian Resources), you can click on words that will be pronounced by a native speaker(/s - sometimes there are several) and you may form your own idea about how certain sounds are pronounced.
    Even if you won't find Szrna itself in the list (by the way, I would add a short "i" to help the pronunciation: szirna, without knowing what would be closest to the original pronunciation), maybe some sza - beginning words could give an impression.
     
  10. 123xyz Senior Member

    Skopje, Macedonia
    Macedonian
    Thank you for your replies, francisgranda, the "quasi-schwa" explanation makes sense.
    Zsanna, it appears you have misunderstood my queries. I am familiar with Hungarian pronunciation and have a good idea of how any Hungarian word is pronounced, since the orthography reflects pronunciation very well, though the opposite doesn't always hold true. What I was asking was how one would pronounce "szrna" considering that it is word which cannot possibly exist in Hungarian for aforementioned reasons. As a foreign word, it would be an exception to the regular pronunciation rules. The site you have provided doesn't provide me with the pronunciation of "szrna" and hearing other words beginning with "sz" pronounced won't give me any more insight than I already have. The point was whether in Hungarian, the adapted foreign word would be pronounced as "szirna", "szörna", "szürna" or whatever other option there is, in order to render an alien phoneme, a syllabic "r", and not how to pronounce one or more of those options. The question was in fact which would be closest to the original pronunciation (which you can get an idea of here - this is a link from the same site where a different word with a syllabic "r" is being pronounced, since there was no "срна"). As it turns out, the answer is with a "quasi-schwa" without it really mattering what the exact nature of this quasi-schwa is, since different people would add different vowels. The Google Translate voice seems to pronounce the syllabic "r" correctly in "срна" as well as some other similar words too, which I found interesting.
    As for explaining how to pronounce a word, I suppose the IPA always works :)
     
  11. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    It's a good answer, because this is what exactly happens in the sense that one attempts to pronounce the cluster "szrn" as it is written (independently on the possible pronounciation in other languages). Of course, if one is familiar with some language where the syllabic r/l does exist, the prounciation differs. (This is my case, as I am practically bilingual so I cannot use myself as an "authentic" example or reference ...)

    But what I find interesting is the following:

    The spontaneous Hungarian pronounciation tends to maintain the syllabic character of the (unusual) cluster instering a "quasi-schwa". On the other hand, e.g. an Italian would pronouce the word "cрна" (transcribed as "srna") probably [s'na] or [sr'na], i.e with a very week "r" (or rather without any "r" at all) and changing the stress, i.e. putting it on the next syllable ("na" in this case) that contains a vowel.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2013
  12. Zsanna

    Zsanna ModErrata

    Hungary
    Hungarian - Hungary
    Yes, I admit I don't really understand the problem. :( (Especially as you asked about the pronunciation specially in post no.7)
    Hungarian pronunciation (rules, principles, etc.) is the same (OK, grosso modo ~) whatever word you should wish to pronounce.
    Whether you have to pronounce Szrna, Łódź or anything else.
    With e.g. town names the exception can be if the speaker has a special knowledge about how the natives pronounce their own city's name but even that could disturb just the speaker because if s/he wanted to avoid giving the impression of showing off (or having to repeat it in the "proper way":rolleyes:), s/he'd better pretend it's like any other Hungarian word and pronounce it as such - even if it doesn't even look one.

    E.g. Having lived in France nearly for 24 years, I wouldn't like to pronounce a word as simple as "Jean" in Hungarian as "zsán" (instead of the simple "zsan") but after some years here I'll probably give in.:)
     

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