Nóra Veszprémi Profile picture
Hungarian art historian in the UK. Research fellow @CRAACE1918_39. 19th century, Austria-Hungary, museums, and now interwar Central Europe.
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18 Oct
Part Two of our exploration of the formal and informal you in Hungarian: maga

No, this hasn’t got anything to do with Trump. “Maga” is a Hungarian pronoun. A form of formal you.

The less polite one.

The previous thread – linked here – showed how formal forms of address can still reflect asymmetrical social relations in Hungarian.

One of these is the teacher–student relationship. As we have seen, teachers, in school and at university, ...


…are addressed as “Tanár Úr / Tanárnő” = ‘Mr/Ms Teacher’. This form of address is used in place of the “you” pronoun (followed by a verb in 3rd pers sing), even if you have to repeat it multiple times in a conversation.

The teacher, however, just calls the student “maga”.

Read 12 tweets
17 Oct
This week in the fascinating world of the Hungarian language: informal and formal you.

I know I’ve said that Hungarian is actually simple. And it is.

Except for formal you. Aargh. The most exasperating issue in the Hungarian language.

Be glad you’re not Hungarian teenagers learning to navigate this in real life. *That’s* a distressing situation to be in.

As a Twitter lesson, however, it might be an interesting topic. One that will require multiple threads…

But let’s start.

Using separate pronouns for informal and formal “you” is not unique to Hungarian. If you speak German or French, you will be familiar with the duality of du/Sie or tu/vous.

Duality. Oh, if we just had two. Oh, I wish.

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9 Oct
Back to Hungarian linguistics. Today: All a word can say

The Hungarian language is frugal with words. The Hungarian translation of an English text is sure to have a lower word count than the original. That is because Hungarian tends to pack as much into a word as it can.

The classic example is the sentence: “He uttered three words: I love you!”

If you translate this into Hungarian word for word, hilarity ensues.

The Hungarian for “I love you” is “szeretlek”. One word.

“He uttered three words: szeretlek!” Nah, that doesn’t work.

How to pack so much into one word? First of all – this is the less unique part – Hungarian conjugates verbs in a more differentiated manner. In English the verb in “I love” and “you love” is the same, so you need pronouns. Hungarian verbs look different in every person.

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