How to survive in Budapest?

learnalanguage

Useful Hungarian expressions for beginners

Normally, when you go to another country in Europe, the languages have something in common with yours. Unfortunately, Hungarian is the exception. Only Finnish and Estonian are related to Hungarian, but as far as we know, it is just as puzzling. So, it is can be clearly stated that Hungarian is a unique language.

So what to do when you go to Budapest and can’t even try to make something out of the language because the words are not comparable? Here will follow some basic sentences that may be useful for you. Remember, unlike English, but like many other languages Hungarian differentiates between formal and informal speech, and you have to keep that in mind whenever you address someone. It is generally preferable and considered to be more polite to address strangers, people who are older than you, or for example your professors at the university formally. Whenever you see multiple options divided by a slash in the table below, the first example is formal, and the second is informal.

English

Hungarian

Do you speak English?

Beszél angolul / Beszélsz angolul?

I don’t speak Hungarian.

Nem beszélek magyarul.

I am [name].

[Name] vagyok.

Sorry, can you tell me where the city centre is?

Bocsánat, meg tudná mondani, merre van a városközpont? Bocsánat, meg tudnád mondani, merre van a városközpont

Thank you.

Köszönöm.

What time is it?

Hány óra van?

Can I have a question?

Kérdezhetek valamit?

How are you?

Hogy van / Hogy vagy?

Fine. And you?

Jól. És Ön/Te?

Excuse me, could you help me?

Elnézést, segítene? Elnézést/Bocsi, segítenél?

Nice to meet you.*

Örülök, hogy megismerhetem.

Bear in mind that in Hungary the equivalent of ‘nice to meet you’ is rarely used.

And we saved the handiest expressions for the last. Even if you can’t find anyone who would help you, you could always pop into a café or a pub and ask if they had WiFi connection so that you could connect to the internet through your smartphone and get the answer for your question.

English

Hungarian

Is there wifi here?

Van itt wifi?

What’s the password?

Mi a jelszó?

 

We have one final tip for you all. If you want to get directions, it is better to stop young adults as the older generation doesn’t really speak English.

by Claire Foellings, Zsuzsa Varga and Zsuzsanna Linka

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