HUNGARIAN: A LANGUAGE OF RESPECT
There's an old saying that Hungarian is the only language in the world that even the Devil respects.
Spoken by approximately 14 million people spread throughout Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine, in addition to some communities in the United States, Western Europe, Canada and Brazil, the language has an agglutinative character and strong sonority.
By Juliana Tavares
The tonic always lands on the first syllable, which is more or less French backwards, representing a challenge to whom is used to the Latinity of Portuguese.
From the family of Uralic languages, originated from the Ural Mountains, Hungarian is the one most broadly spoken.
Lacking grammatical gender, the language has a declination with twenty-two cases, it has several forms of verb conjugation both due to the subject and the object, and the verbal inflexion, as to the action aspect, is made via prefixes.
Currently, it uses the Roman alphabet with diacritical signs, except letters q, w, x and y, totaling 14 vowels and 27 consonants.
But until the dawn of the Middle Ages, it used an alphabet called Hungarian Runes. The oldest texts in Hungarian date from the end of the 12th century (Halotti Beszéd – “Funeral prayer”), where the name 'magyar' emerges for the first time to designate the language's speakers.
The term also appears in Muslim and Byzantine sources as tribal designations in the 9th and 10th centuries. The first books printed in Hungarian, however, were edited in Krakow and Vienna circa 1536. These characteristics, combined with the number of dialects (western, northern, southern, eastern and northeastern), require caution while translating documents from Hungarian to any language.
In the book “How I learned Portuguese, and other adventures", Hungarian author Paulo Rónai comments on the hardships of his language.
“It took me many years until realizing the complexities of its mechanism.
As I learned other languages, my own became more and more astonishing", he confesses. Hungarian, such as Russian, has little concern with the correlation of the verb tenses in a sentence.
According to the author, the language “does not feel the difference between wrote, was writing, have written, had written."
On the contrary, according to him the language is more focused on knowing the circumstances in which the action was carried out.
“If the person wrote while under dictation or while copying, if on a loose sheet or a book, with or without the intent to keep the note, if the sheet was filled out or not, if what he wrote was substantial or accessory, if he removed it from one or several sources…" Therefore a translation, particularly technical translation, into Hungarian without the knowledge of its peculiarities, may jeopardize comprehension.