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Lesson Transcript

Michael: What are some common English loanwords in Hungarian?
Boglárka: And are any English words used differently in Hungarian?
Michael: At HungarianPod101.com, we hear these questions often. Imagine the following situation: Sasha Lee is in a restaurant with her classmate, Orsolya Olah. Orsolya says,
"I would like a muffin."
Oláh Orsolya: Szeretnék egy muffint.
Oláh Orsolya: Szeretnék egy muffint.
Sasha Lee: Szeretnék egy hamburgert.
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
Oláh Orsolya: Szeretnék egy muffint.
Michael: "I would like a muffin."
Sasha Lee: Szeretnék egy hamburgert.
Michael: "I would like a hamburger. "

Lesson focus

Michael: In this lesson, we are going to be looking at words in Hungarian that have been borrowed from the English language. These are called loanwords or, in Hungarian:
Boglárka: jövevényszavak
Michael: As you can tell, that is definitely not a loanword. It doesn't sound remotely English. Loanwords often sound exactly like their counterpart in the language they are borrowed from or share most of the phonetic and structural features of the word. Consider the word:
Boglárka: monitor
Michael: for instance. You can only tell the difference between this word in Hungarian and in English if you are listening to it. It is spelled exactly the same way in both languages and refers to the same thing: a computer monitor. On the other hand, a word like:
Boglárka: populista
Michael: is spelled differently from its English counterpart and sounds slightly different too because of the extra syllable. It is borrowed from the English word "populist" and means the same thing. It refers to a political stance that places emphasis on 'the people,' often as opposed to 'the elite.' Consider this sentence, where it is used in context:
Boglárka: Ez egy populista mozgalom.
Michael: This translates to: "That is a populist movement." But let's stay away from politics. Instead, let's look at another aspect of loan words. Sometimes, these words are used even though there is an alternative word in the Hungarian language. For instance, consider the loan word:
Boglárka: tinédzser
Michael: Although written differently, when hearing this word, it instantly becomes obvious that it was borrowed from the English word, "teenager." The original Hungarian word for "teenager" is actually:
Boglárka: tizenéves
Michael: An interesting phenomenon to note here is how the spelling changes from the original English to the loan word. In this case, the loan word is not spelled T-E-E-N-A-G-E-R. Instead, it is spelled T-I-N-É-D-Z-S-E-R. You could say that the English word has been 'Hungarianized.' This is the case with, quite possibly, the majority of these loan words, so be careful to check the spelling of them if you are writing in Hungarian. Another word that has been borrowed from English even though there is a Hungarian word for it is:
Boglárka: internet
Michael: Again, I am sure that I don't have to explain that this is borrowed from the English word, "internet." The original Hungarian word is:
Boglárka: világháló
Michael: Then, there are those loan words for which there never has been a Hungarian word. One might be tempted to think that these would be words for things that had only been invented recently, but that is not always the case. Consider this word for instance:
Boglárka: sport
Michael: Obviously, this is borrowed from the English word "sport" and I'm pretty sure sport has been around for a while. The closest word in meaning to "sport" in Hungarian is:
Boglárka: testmozgás
Michael: which means "exercise." That said, there are some words that are likely to have been borrowed from English because the things they refer to were only invented or discovered relatively recently. One of them is:
Boglárka: bikini
Michael: and another is:
Boglárka: penicillin
Michael: These are borrowed from the English words, "bikini" and "penicillin," respectively, as you will, no doubt, have guessed. Then, there are those words borrowed from the English language for which the original Hungarian word has all but been forgotten. This is likely to happen with many Hungarian words that are regularly replaced with loan words. Here's an example of one:
Boglárka: televízió
Michael: This is borrowed from the English "television." Another word for which the original Hungarian word has all but disappeared is:
Boglárka: imidzs
Michael: which, as you can hear, is borrowed from the English, "image." Similarly to earlier, this word is another great example of a loan word being 'Hungarianized.' The word image in Hungarian is not spelled as I-M-A-G-E but as I-M-I-D-Z-S.
Another way in which English loanwords are sometimes 'Hungarianized' is when they are used in a limited way in terms of meaning. Where a word in English might have several meanings attached to it, the loanword only has one or two. Consider how Hungarians use the word:
Boglárka: sztár
Michael: to talk about a 'star.' In Hungary, this refers to a famous person but not to the kind of star that shines from the sky at night. Loanwords can also be 'Hungarianized' in the sense that their meaning is altered. Here's an example:
Boglárka: szmoking
Michael: This word is borrowed from the English word "smoking," but, in Hungarian, it means "dinner jacket." Listen to another example:
Boglárka: keksz
Michael: In this case, the word is borrowed from the English "cakes," but it means "biscuits" in Hungarian. Words like these, where the meaning has been radically altered from the original English meaning, are called 'false friends.'
There are also some words which might appear to be loanwords but are not because they have descended from the same root word in another language, like Latin. Consider this word for instance:
Boglárka: márka
Michael: This sounds like it might be based on the English word "mark," but it is not. Both words share the common Latin root "marcus" or "marca" which refers to a marking on a piece of metal that denotes it as a coin. In Hungarian, it means a brand or a make, while, in English, it can have several meanings such as a mark on a piece of paper, a mark in an exam, or a sign.
Loanwords are common to all languages, so Hungarian is no exception in this regard. There has been a substantial increase in loanwords during the last twenty to thirty years. Most of them are used in the areas of business, computing, and technology as a result of advances in these fields.
Michael: In recent times, an interesting phenomenon has been occurring when it comes to loanwords. Sometimes, an English word and a Hungarian word are meshed together to form a new word. Consider this word for instance:
Boglárka: boxeralsó
Michael: This means "boxer shorts." It is a combination of the English word "boxer" and part of the Hungarian word:
Boglárka: alsónadrág
Michael: which means underpants. Another example of this phenomenon is the word:
Boglárka: egérpad
Michael: which means "mouse pad" as in the kind that one uses for a computer mouse. It is derived from the Hungarian:
Boglárka: egér
Michael: meaning "mouse," and the English "pad." The number of these hybrid words in Hungarian has been increasing in recent years.
Cultural Insight/Expansion
Michael: I've now mentioned, more than once, that many English loanwords are recent additions to the Hungarian language and, while this is true, that does not mean that all the loanwords are recent. In fact, Hungarian has been borrowing words from English for quite a while now—from as far back as the eighteenth century. For instance, the words:
Boglárka: detektív
Michael: and
Boglárka: pingvin
Michael: have been around since the eighteenth century and they mean "detective" and "penguin," respectively. In the nineteenth century, words like:
Boglárka: interjú
Michael: and
Boglárka: infláció
Michael: were added. These were borrowed from the English "interview" and "inflation." The twentieth century saw its fair share of new words being borrowed—words like:
Boglárka: szvetter
Michael: and
Boglárka: sort
Michael: for instance. These were borrowed from the English words—"sweater" and "shorts."
As you can see, borrowing words from English has been going on for a long time. I must point out, though, that Hungarian has been borrowing words from other languages, most notably from German, Latin, and Slavic languages from the tenth century onwards. Within that time-frame, the borrowing from English started relatively recently.
Interestingly, English has also borrowed some words from Hungarian. You might not know, for instance, that the word "coach" was borrowed from the Hungarian word:
Boglárka: kocsi
Michael: which means "car." I, for one, did not know that.


Michael: Do you have any more questions? We're here to answer them!
Boglárka: Viszontlátásra!
Michael: See you soon!