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About The Hungarian Syllable Notes

The Syllable (Pronunciation) Notes underneath each Hungarian word and sentence on this Basic Hungarian website have been created by me, John Cairns (native English), with tremendous syllable sound and pronunciation help from Tünde (a native Hungarian), her family and Hungarian friends; all of varying age groups.

I have written the sound of each Hungarian syllable pronunciation in English (with English words) so that English speakers can hopefully understand, hear and speak Hungarian better; with more confidence. This is enhanced by speech recordings from Tünde, which have been slightly and purposely slowed down for your benefit.

What the above is saying is that I am not teaching Hungarians their language, nor am I teaching English speakers the Hungarian language. I am merely offering English speakers guidance (syllable notes) on how to pronounce Hungarian syllables and therefore guidance on how to speak Hungarian words; the way I am understood by native Hungarians.

Syllable Notes - An Example

HÉTFŐ - Monday (pronounced: HATE-FUR) is an example. Although it is argued that there is no R sound in FŐ, even though Ő is pronounced UR, the closest I can write FŐ as a syllable note is FUR. When I say HATE-FUR to Hungarians they understand me. And that is the point here:

Syllable Notes - Difficult Syllables

The difficulty in writing syllable (pronunciation) notes for Hungarian is that not all syllables can be written down in the English language simply because some syllables are difficult to say, never mind write down! It is also difficult because I am not in a video speaking them.....yet. Hence one reason why I say "use the syllable (pronunciation) notes on this website as guidance only".

Syllable Notes - NO Phonetic Interpretations

In many tourist phrasebooks and language apps, as well as on many language websites, you will see the International Phonetic Alphabet WebsiteInternational Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) used for syllable notes. Take the syllable note æ, written as /'æ/, for example. It represents the A sound as in Cat, Black and Apple where Cat is written phonetically as /'kæt/. The syllable note ə is the 'small a' sound used in infant schools, used in words such as Cinema and Away and written phonetically as /'sɪnəmə/ and /ə'weɪ/ respectively.

The idea of the IPA is to have words written and spoken in such a way that anyone and everyone can instantly read and speak an unknown "Foreign" word or sentence, which is fine, but I think it is fair to say that phonetics are for academics and not widely used by us common folk! Hence why I have chosen to write my syllable notes in the English language, in a way common folk can understand how a word should be spoken. Written as it sounds.

So in my syllable notes, Kösönöm (Thank You) is written KUR-SUR-NERM and Seretlek (I Love You) is written SEH-RET-LECK. If I want to stress an E sound I might change the E for an EH in the case of Seretlek - SEH-REHT-LECK. This is so that RET is not spoken as RET as in Return. Likewise, if I want clarity I might change a U for an E or I - KER-SIR-NERM.

When In Doubt - Ask A Native Hungarian

If in doubt about anything relating to the syllable notes on this website (i.e. you are still not quite sure how something is pronounced because you have no sound example), ask a native Hungarian for further guidance and possible improvements on your pronunciations whenever you feel it necessary to do so.

It is the same when you buy a Hungarian phrasebook/dictionary and try out some of its sentences, without audio support, which may have incorrect translations and/or incorrect pronunciation notes; you ask a native Hungarian for help.

Remember what I said on the main page of this website: Hungarians do NOT expect a "Foreigner" to speak perfect Hungarian, just as I do not expect a "Foreigner" to speak perfect English. Just as Hungarians help and politely correct "Foreigners" with their Hungarian, so do I. I help correct Tünde's English pronunciation for example when I feel correction is needed and likewise she helps in correcting my Hungarian. And that is what language learning is all about - Helping each other in a positive way and not criticising.


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