A History of Modern Hungary, 1867-1994

By Jörg K. Hoensch; Kim Traynor | Go to book overview

Pronunciation Guide
Hungarian words are invariably stressed on the first syllable.The accents denoting length, frequently encountered on the longer vowels (á, é, í, ó, ú) or extra-long vowels (a + ̋, ő, ű) do not refer to stress, but simply denote the long pure vowels. Their pronunciation corresponds roughly to the following English sounds: á = a in 'father', é = a in 'gate', í = e in 'equal', ó = o in 'foe', ú = u in 'rude'.The unlengthened vowels are always pronounced short and distinctly: e.g. e as in English 'get'. The Magyar a, in contrast, corresponds to the short, open o in the English word 'hot'.The consonants are also distinctly short or pronounced long if written double. In the case of double consonants like cs or ny only the first letter is written twice to show length.The consonants b, d, f, g, h, k, l, m, n, p, t, z are pronounced similarly to English.
j is pronounced y
c is pronounced ts
cs is pronounced ch
sz is pronounced hard s
s is pronounced soft s = sh
zs corresponds to the j in the French word 'journal'
Before the spelling reform of 1903 the double consonant cz was used for the sound ts. Nowadays it appears only in surnames.
r is pronounced as a strongly rolled r
y is used phonetically in conjunction with g, l, n and t: e.g. gy = dje as in during

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A History of Modern Hungary, 1867-1994
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