Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hungarian resources.

This here is mostly a motivational post for myself (if there is such a thing as a book fetishist, I'm one of them) since I don't think very many of the people who read my blog are interested in Hungarian. It's a resource post and I will discuss the materials have for Hungarian; what books are use and what books I don't use. It may be of general interest as well, even if you are not interested in Hungarian.

Let's start with vocabulary. I visited Hungary, or Budapest that is, in the summer of 2008, and before that I had never really thought about studying Hungarian. It kind of felt like too much of an opportunity to miss to not buy materials while I was there though, and once having bought these books, I just had to start studying it. I bought the dictionaries, the big ones and a small one (and then before leaving Budapest, the friend of my boyfriend, who was studying medicine in Budapest, gave me the "Say It in Hungarian" and another mini dictionary). I also bought the flashcards and the dictionary with pictures, but I haven't used these much. I used the flashcards in the beginning, but then I switched to using Anki.

Of course, you need some grammar! I only bought the PONS books in Hungary, and oh how I regret not buying a verb book with full declension of verbs. It would really be useful to have a "500 Hungarian verbs" kind of book. There is the site HVC, but in order to use that one, you have to be sure you are using the correct verb stem. I got my Assimil from a friend in France, and I think I did 40 or 60 or so (no idea really :P) lessons in it, but the book kind of annoyed me sometimes (it's quite misogynic) and as usual, I got bored with it... right now I'm using an all Hungarian book called Lépésenként magyarul, which I only have as a PDF. I prefer this book, but I use it rather slowly, since I work with many other things besides workbooks.

I just got my blue Hungarian grammar book the other day, and I really love it. I am going to index it completely and read it from page 1... to 300 and something. I have a big fat book of Russian grammar as well, but it has never really tempted me that much to lay down in bed and flip through it. Just no fun, and that grammar book is... actually rather boring. I really like this Routledge one though, I think it's very nicely made and it's pleasant to read.

The book "Hungarian verbs and essentials of grammar" was just a book I bought because it was cheap, and because I couldn't find anything else that seemed to deal with verbs specifically. It's really rather useless though, it's way too shallow. It could be useful as just a quick reference, but if you're going to buy a book anyway, go for the blue one.

By the way, I really like how it says on the PONS books "comprehensive and user friendly" and "easy" while the guy on the cover is hiding on every book :D I haven't used the noun-declension tables book yet, it's actually rather intimidating and so far I have managed without it. I figure it may become useful when I get better at Hungarian though.

I am dreaming of getting the book Gyakorló magyar because it has exercises in it (that kind of stuff is difficult to find for Hungarian), and overall I like the site Magyaróra, which is where it comes from. With a bit of luck, my colleague will be able to find it when he goes to Budapest in a couple of weeks.

Naturally, I had to buy some literature while in Hungary! Since I didn't know anything at all about Hungarian literature back then, I bought stuff that I recognized, translations of works I had previously read. That's why there is some Jane Austen and Emily Brontë in there :-) I also bought the Montgomery book, because I thought it would be a nice steppingstone between children's literature and full-grown adult literature, but actually it's very difficult. I am also reading Jane Eyre in Hungarian, but for that one I am cheating. I only have it as a text document, but fortunately, it's a dual language text, Hungarian and English. I'm not sure how much I have read so far, but quite a couple of pages and I really like it, plus I already know the story. I have started reading Ciróka and Anne az élet iskolájaban, but as I mentioned, the second one is very difficult. Én es a fiam is actually a Swedish book that I found in the online catalog of a secondhand bookshop in my hometown. I sent my mother there to buy it, and then she sent it to me. The author, Sara Lidman, is from the same place as my grandmother (in the depths of Lapland), and she writes rather weird books sometimes. Wrote. She's dead now.

Buying books in Hungary was rather funny, because everything was so cheap. When I came to pay, the cashier seemed quite embarrassed to tell me the total sum and was a bit anxious about my bank card and if it would work out and so on. Little did she know that what I paid for all of the books was more or less the equal of what I would have paid for the dictionaries alone in Norway!

Besides from these books, I also use a couple of other resources. I haven't used the FSI easy reader in a long time now, but it's a very good resource and the text are actually very good. I am also going to try to read more news articles now, in order to acquire some "useful" vocabulary. Lang-8 is, as usual, perhaps my most important resource, together with Anki.

So that's it. I have probably forgotten about something, I usually do, but I do like having an overview of the stuff I have, or else I end up never using it because the books just disappear among the several hundreds I have in my bookshelves. Now, I'm going to get back to lesson six of Lépésenként magyarul.


  1. Have you tried using for conjugating Hungarian verbs? I've found it really useful for other languages.

  2. For some reason I forget about Verbix for Hungarian! I use it for German, but I will give it a try for Hungarian as well. Thanks!

  3. If you are still interested in a book with verb lists, I recommend you Ragazó by Hoffmann Zsuzsa, you can order it from the University of Debrecen, it is part of the Lingua Hungarica series.