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Hungarian language

Hungarian language, also called Magyar, member of the Ugric group of the Finno-Ugric languages. These languages form a subdivision of the Uralic subfamily of the Ural-Altaic family of languages (see Uralic and Altaic languages). Hungarian is spoken by approximately 10 million people in Hungary and by an additional 3 million throughout Eastern Europe, Russia, the United States, and elsewhere. There are a number of dialects. Like the other Uralic and Altaic languages, Hungarian has vowel harmony and agglutination. Suffixes or postpositions are used extensively. The noun has about 25 cases, and the verb is inflected to a considerable degree. Hungarian has a definite article and an indefinite article, both of which are lacking in the related languages of Finnish and Turkish. There is no grammatical gender in Hungarian. The first syllable of a word is stressed. During the first millennium A.D., Hungarian was written in a script akin to that of the oldest Turkic writing, but in the 11th cent. A.D. the Roman alphabet was introduced and subsequently was adopted in a modified form. The earliest extant Hungarian documents in the Roman alphabet go back to the 13th cent. and are the oldest texts of a Uralic language. The vocabulary of Hungarian has borrowed words from other languages, especially the Turkic languages, the Slavic languages, and German.

See R. M. Vago, The Sound Pattern of Hungarian (1980); D. M. Abandolo, Hungarian Inflectional Morphology (1989).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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