Discussion in 'Magyar (Hungarian)' started by NagyKiss, May 6, 2013.

  1. NagyKiss Senior Member

    A lányok addig beszéltek, hogy enni muszáj, míg vegül ettem egy kis levest.

    This is a quote from story in a textbook. After every story there's a small vocabulary.
    There's an interesting comment against word "muszáj":

    "muszáj (using this word is not recommended) -must (from German word muss sein)"

    Why is it not recommended to be used? Is it obsolete? In which cases should it be used?

  2. Mindlevery Senior Member

    Hmm interesting advise there. The origin is true, but I would not say it is obsolete. I myself - as a native speaker -am using it too. Many Hungarians misspell it though using "LY" instead of "J", so one has to be careful about that.
    Feel free to use it.
    The synonym for muszáj is "kell".
  3. NagyKiss Senior Member

    Ok, does "muszáj" emphasize something that "kell" doesn't?
  4. Zsanna

    Zsanna ModErrata

    Hungarian - Hungary
    I don't know whether it'll help, here is a quote from Nyelvművelő Kézikönyv vol.II p.208-209 (in Hungarian!):
    "...a kell erőteljesebb, nyomatékosabb szinonímájaként, a kemény, szigorú kényszerűség kifejezésére. E parancsoló súlyát onnan kaphatta, hogy valószínűleg az osztrák katonai nyelvből vette át a népnyelv, majd onnan terjedt el... az irodalomban és a sajtóban is. ... Régebbi nyelvművelőink, ...sokszor helytelenítették a muszáj-t, elsősorban mint németességet ..., mint az alsó szintű, bizalmas-pongyola nyelv szavát is. ...Igényesebb beszédben, szövegben azonban lehetőleg kerüljük, ha nincs rá szükség stiláris okból."

    So yes, muszáj expresses a stronger necessity than kell - rather an obligation and even a strict one. Although it exists not only in popular language but in literature, too, the book still doesn't suggest using it (unless you really know what you are doing, i.e. you choose it for the style and you certainly should choose the right form e.g. the verbal form without any suffixes and outside "compound structures"... -> another complication you could put off to a bit later.:))

    You should also know that German originating words and structures are usually considered "ugly" in Hungarian (because they are not natural to the language but probably also due to unpleasant historcial connotations). They, just like a lot of other foreign originating words of any origin, when entering popular language first, got transformed at times to an extent where even the foreign origin cannot be recognized anymore (a sign for lack of erudition) this is why their use can give an impression about the speaker that he may not wish to convey about himself necessarily.
    Muszáj is not bad to that extent but it was never a "nice"/"educated" word and probably it never will be. (Even if there is a strong tendency for rubbish language to pass as "normal" nowadays - it is trendier than this.:rolleyes:)
    Last edited: May 6, 2013
  5. Zsanna

    Zsanna ModErrata

    Hungarian - Hungary
    "should"...? It is not easy. I think that in everyday speech you can always go around it (kell, szükséges, kénytelen, kötelessége valamit csinálni are all alternatives) but sometimes you don't just because it's simpler. When you should use it (most likely) is when you want to express a "have to" (in the classic sense = it's not because you want to do something but because you don't have the choice), in your example above, "you have to eat" (whether you fancy it or not) in order to survive, you cannot go on without eating, you need food. (It is typical that girls have to say that <- "a female role in life" and that it was about eating.)

    But you could always say: Muszáj mennem, nincs mese. (I have to go, there is no other way.) So not because you want to but there is a(very strong)n obligation coming from outside. "I have no other choice but..." But this sentence is colloquial, although sounds perfectly natural, but not elegant enough to say it to a person you look up to. You can say it to somebody equal if you can speak casually with him/her but you won't sound elegant. (True, you don't alwys have to, still.)

    I would say, however, that it is a little bit like "indeed" in English. In the sense that it's better if language learners wait a bit before they use it because it's one of those words that you can never use properly if you are not a native speaker. (Even if for different reasons: muszáj has an easy use structurally but difficult stylistically.)
    Last edited: May 7, 2013
  6. tomtombp Senior Member

    Not obsolete at all. It is a bit informal though. I think that's why they say it's not recommended to use it. I wouldn't use it in a formal text like a business letter, etc.
    This time I agree with Zsanna's book: "Igényesebb beszédben, szövegben azonban lehetőleg kerüljük, ha nincs rá szükség stiláris okból."
    It's something like "kéne" with the difference that "kéne" has the exact formal alternative: "kellene". For "muszáj" you can use Zsanna's suggestions in her post #5 in formal texts.
  7. NagyKiss Senior Member

    Wow, that's a very comprehensive explanation, thank you!
  8. Akitlosz Senior Member

    This may be an old proposal, and/or the adviser may not have loved the German origin of the word. Few people know this, it is considered as a Hungarian word.

    Muszáj is a universally widespread, frequent word in the Hungarian language. There is no problem with muszáj. Use it calmly!
  9. francisgranada Senior Member

    My 2-3 cents ... I think that the "problem" is not the German origin (most of the people has no idea about this ...), but rather the fact that this word is a priori of colloquial ("alsó szintű") origin. Even more, from the linguistical point of view, it is used a bit erroneousely (the German impersonal "muss sein" does not imply constructions like "muszáj mennem", "muszáj leszek" etc ...). I think that's why this word is considered also "bizalmas-pongyola ..." (see Zsanna's post #4). But this is only my personal opinion.

    In other words, before having read this discussion I dind't know that this word is "not recommended". However I always "felt" that this word is somehow, let's say, not "elegant" enough to be used e.g. in official documents. But at the same time I fully agree with Akitlosz:
    Last edited: May 9, 2013
  10. tomtombp Senior Member

    Yep. Not elegant is the right expression.

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