Shwa for Hungarian
Sva Magyarnak

Surprisingly for a language with such rich history and venerable literary traditions, the orthography of Hungarian is fairly clean and phonemic, nicely representing the modern spoken language. However, the use of the Roman alphabet is not without its problems:


Here are the consonants of Hungarian, with the current orthography in black and IPA in green:

m m n n ny ɳ (ng) ŋ
b b d d gy ɟ g g
p p t t ty c k k
dz ʣ dzs ʤ
c ʦ cs ʧ
v v z z zs ʒ
f f sz s s ʃ
l l r r y j h h


Hungarian has a very systematic vowel system. Since Hungarian displays vowel harmony, native words have either all front vowels or all back vowels. They form seven short/long pairs, with just a couple of mismatched pairs.

----- Front ----- ----- Back -----
Spread Round Spread Round
High i i í ü y ű u u ú
Mid ( ë e) é ö ø ő øː o o ó
Low e ɛ á a ɒ

Hungarian words are generally stressed on the last syllable. However, proper names have a different stress pattern (called Sezer stress), in which the stress falls on the penult (second syllable from the end). But if the penult ends in a vowel and the antepenult (third from the end) ends in a consonant, then the stress falls on the antepenult. In either pattern, Shwa always writes the stressed vowel high.


Now that you've learned the letters, why don't you try reading a sentence?

Egy fecske nem csinál nyarat

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