Shwa for Hungarian
Sva Magyarnak

This page will introduce you to a new way to write Hungarian, using the Shwa script. Shwa is featural, so letters look like they sound, and it's universal, so everyone will agree on the values of the letters. It's also fully supported by digital media: fonts, keyboards, apps and programs, and it needs only a 20-key keyboard, the same one for every language.

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:

Consonants

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

Vowels

Hungarian has a very systematic vowel system. Since Hungarian displays vowel harmony, native words have either all front vowels or all back vowels.

----- Front ----- ----- Back -----
Spread Round Spread Round
High i i ü y u u
Mid e e ö ø o o
Low e e a a

The vowel is pronounced ä æ before m n r l at the end of a syllable, and that's how Shwa writes it.

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.

Sample

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


Egy fecske nem csinál nyarat


© 2002-2015 Shwa shwa@shwa.org 17dec15