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Lesson Transcript

Simone: Hi, Simone here! This is Absolute Beginner, Season 1, Lesson 2: Asking “Where Are You From?" in Hungarian. In this lesson, we’re going to learn more about the verb “to be” and nationalities. In this lesson, you’ll learn how to ask about other people’s nationalities.
Gergo: Sziasztok! That’s right, the investigation into other people’s business continues in this episode.
Simone: So, where does this conversation take place?
Gergo: We’re still on the train with Balázs and Anne, so you can think of this lesson as the continuation of our previous dialogue.
Simone: OK, let's listen to this carefully.

Lesson conversation

Balázs: Honnan jöttél? Angol vagy?
Anne: Nem angol vagyok. Amerikai vagyok. És te?
Balázs: Én magyar vagyok. Tetszik Budapest?
Anne: Igen. Budapest szép.
Balázs: Amerika is szép.
Anne: (smiling) Szerintem is.
English Host: Let's listen to the conversation one time slowly.
Balázs: Honnan jöttél? Angol vagy?
Anne: Nem angol vagyok. Amerikai vagyok. És te?
Balázs: Én magyar vagyok. Tetszik Budapest?
Anne: Igen. Budapest szép.
Balázs: Amerika is szép.
Anne: (smiling) Szerintem is.
With Translation
Balázs: Honnan jöttél? Angol vagy?
Balázs: “Are you English?”
Anne: Nem angol vagyok. Amerikai vagyok. És te?
Anne:“I am not English. I am American. How about you?”
Balázs: Én magyar vagyok. Tetszik Budapest?
Balázs:“I’m Hungarian. Do you like Budapest?”
Anne: Igen. Budapest szép.
Anne: “Yes. Budapest is beautiful.”
Balázs: Amerika is szép.
Balázs: “I’m glad (you say that). America is very beautiful too.”
Anne: (smiling) Szerintem is.
Anne: “I think so too.”
Simone: Why does this language sound like something from Mars for me Gergo?
Gergo: Ah, a common question. This is because Hungarian has almost nothing to do with other European languages. The closest, and only, relatives in Europe are Finnish and Estonian. And I don’t understand a single word of those.
Simone: It’s not an Indo-European language, right?
Gergo: Yes, that’s correct. It is in a language family called Finno-Ugric, which is in turn a member of the Uralic family.
Simone: That still sounds like Martian.
Gergo: This is one of the reasons why language buffs are always trying to come up with new theories about what other languages Hungarian is related to.
Simone: And what do they come up with?
Gergo: Well, keep in mind that the most credible theory is still the Finno-Ugric. Others, however, say that it could be related to Japanese, Sumerian, Etruscan, Aramaic, and Turkish.
Simone: That is a quite a list.
Gergo: Yes, and I’m sure there are more.
Simone: Now let’s take a look at the expressions in this lesson.
Gergo: honnan?
Simone: “from where?”
Gergo: hon-nan?
Gergo: honnan?
Gergo: jöttél
Simone: “you came”
Gergo: jöttél
Gergo: jöttél
Gergo: angol
Simone: “English”
Gergo: an-gol
Gergo: angol
Gergo: vagy
Simone: “you are” (inf.)
Gergo: vagy
Gergo: vagy
Gergo: nem
Simone: “no”
Gergo: nem
Gergo: nem
Gergo: amerikai
Simone: “American”
Gergo: a-me-ri-ka-i
Gergo: amerikai
Gergo: tetszik
Simone: “like”
Gergo: tet-szik
Gergo: tetszik
Gergo: szép
Simone: “beautiful”
Gergo: szép
Gergo: szép
Simone: That’s a lot. Let’s break these expressions down and help the listeners learn a bit.
Gergo: Ok. We’ll start with “where are you from?”
Simone: The very first sentence in the lesson.
Gergo: Honnan jöttél?
Gergo: Honnan jöttél?
Simone: “Where are you from?”
Gergo: Honnan means “from where?”, it is a question word. Jöttél means “you came”, a past tense verb.
Simone: This is still informal, right?
Gergo: Right, they are getting acquainted slowly but surely, and anyway, young people normally use the informal speech.
Simone: How would you ask someone older though?
Gergo: Please repeat this super polite question. Ön honnan származik?
Gergo: Ön honnan származik? Ön is “you, formal”, származik is “originates.”
Simone: So this was the formal one. How do we answer?
Gergo: It is a good idea to use the verb “to be” in the answer, and we’re going to cover those soon, in the grammar section.
Simone: And is there any other vocab then?
Gergo: There is the verb tetszik. Even though it is at some point translated as “like,” the most literal translation is “find something beautiful” or “is beautiful for someone.”
Simone: How about an example instead of this technical lingo? How do you say “I like your hair.”
Gergo: (mumbles) Tetszik a hajad.
Simone: Louder!
Gergo: All right. Tetszik a hajad.
Gergo: Tetszik a hajad. Hajad is “your hair.”
Simone: See, that wasn’t hard, was it?

Lesson focus

Simone: So, Gergo, what’s the grammar point for today?
Gergo: We’re going to talk about the verb vagyok, again. I hope all of you remember. It means: “I am.”
Simone: Sure. Why this again?
Gergo: Last time we visited the question “to be” in first and second person singular and used nouns and adjectives with them.
Simone: Very quickly, first person singular is...
Gergo: Vagyok. Vagyok. In a phrase: Tanár vagyok. Tanár vagyok.
Simone: "I’m a teacher." Second person singular...
Gergo: Vagy. Vagy. The same phrase again: Tanár vagy. Tanár vagy.
Simone: “You are a teacher.” So far so good. Third person now?
Gergo: The verb “to be” in third person singular is van. Van.
Simone: “He is.” Or “she/it is.” No gender in Hungarian.
Gergo: Yes, it is always van. The problem with the third person singular is, that in similar sentences, you don’t actually use the verb, but instead, you put the personal pronoun before the noun or adjective you want to use in your statement.
Simone: So using tanár, or “teacher” again...
Gergo: Ő tanár. Ő tanár.
Simone: “He/she is a teacher.” No verb in this one.
Gergo: Exactly. Just to make this a hundred percent clear, I’ll say all three again, so you can compare.
Simone: I’m ready.
Gergo: Tanár vagyok.
Simone: “I’m a teacher.”
Gergo: Tanár vagy.
Simone: “You are a teacher.”
Gergo: Ő tanár.
Simone: “He’s a teacher.” OK, so no verb this time. How does this tie into our lesson today?
Gergo: Because there is a very similar sentence in the lesson, where we use an adjective. Budapest szép. Budapest szép.
Simone: “Budapest is beautiful.” I see. No verb, but there is the subject given, Budapest.
Gergo: Shall we try some more adjectives?
Simone: Why not? Handsome?
Gergo: Yes I am.
Simone: No, I meant... ugh, very funny.
Gergo: “Handsome” is jóképű.
Simone: So in third person singular it is:
Gergo: Ő jóképű. Ő jóképű.
Simone: Let’s try “fat” now.
Gergo: Ő kövér. Ő kövér.
Simone: How was that again in first person?
Gergo: Kövér vagyok. Kövér vagyok.
Simone: And that is what you guys should remember from today...
Gergo: That was not cool.
Simone: (smiles) ...and tune in next time. Bye.
Gergo: Sziasztok.