Common verbal greetings include Szia (Hello), which is pronounced as see-ya, but should not be confused with the English meaning, and Jó napot (Good day). Szia is used to greet one person, while Sziasztock (see-ya-stock) is used to greet a group of people.4 Greetings between both women and men tend to be a handshake accompanied by direct eye contact. However, men should wait for the woman to extend their hand first. Close friends and family members usually hug and/or kiss each other on the cheeks, starting with the left side.
Hungarians are generally direct communicators, and they express their emotions and opinions freely. It is normal for Hungarians to ask personal questions during conversation, but this is not ill-intended. The use of stories, jokes, and anecdotes during conversation is quite common and an expression of emotions. There are also different levels of formality that are noticeable in speech patterns. For example, there is a formal form of you (ön) and an informal form (te), which should be used only among friends and family.
Personal Space and Touching
Hungarians will usually keep a distance of over an arm’s length from each other, although this distance may be bigger when speaking to strangers. Even though Hungarians are generally emotional people, public displays of affection are not very common. Nonetheless, female friends may sometimes hold hands or walk arm in arm.
Eye Contact and Gestures
Direct eye contact is expected among Hungarians and it is a sign of honesty. Failing to reciprocate it may be seen as dishonest or even rude. Instead of pointing with their index finger to signal, Hungarians will flick it. Flicking their head or eyes in the direction of something bears the same meaning.
Hungarian Culture Reference Guide
Hungarian Population in the United States
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Dialect of the western region of Hungary, formerly known as West Hungarian. The dialect has some German influences due to the proximity of the region to Austria. Standard Hungarian igen (yes) is substituted by the German equivalent ja. Western Transdanubian differs from Standard Hungarian in pronunciation, due to the shortening of longer vowels such as ú, ű, í, turning them into u, ü, and i. For instance, tűz (fire) in Standard Hungarian, becomes tüz. A distinct characteristic of this dialect is the prominence of the l consonant, which is pronounced instead of the ly. the letter l the end of a syllable is usually dropped.
Central and Southern Transdanubian
Spoken in the central area of the Transdanubian region, it was formerly known simply as Transdanubian. It has three subdialects: Csallóköz, Mátyusföld, and Szigetköz. The dialect and its subdialects are quite similar to Western Transdanubian in pronunciation and vocabulary and there are also German influences like ja instead of igen (yes). Central transdanubian is also influenced by Slavic languages, due to its proximity to Slovakia.
Also referred to as Southern Great Plain, this dialect is spoken in the region of Banat and between the Danube and Tisza rivers. The vocabulary of this dialect has implemented words from the Palóc and Tisza regions. It differs in pronunciation from other dialects particularly on the usage of a vowel which is a mix between e and ö. Nonetheless, it is quite similar to Standard Hungarian and perhaps only someone with a very well-trained ear would be able to spot the difference.
Dialect of the northern region of Hungary, the Cisdanubian, spoken more specifically in the Nógrád, Heves, and part of the Pest and Bács-Kiskun counties, and in the south of Slovakia. This dialect uses words of Slovak origin in its vocabulary. The Palóc dialect contains many features of Middle Ages Hungarian and differs from Standard Hungarian especially in the use of double vowels, like laó (horse), instead of standard ló, haó (snow), instead of hó, and vuáros (city), instead of város. Those who speak this dialect rarely use conjunctions, és (and), hogy (that), mert (because), and are known to speak softly and quite melodiously.
Also known as Tisza-Köros, this dialect is spoken east of the Tisza River, hence the name, in Romania and Ukraine. The most characteristic feature of this dialect is the use of í, instead of standard é: néz (watching), becomes níz in Eastern dialect. Additionally, Ly is pronounced as j, as opposed to other dialects that pronounce it as l, and there is no difference in pronunciation between closed and open e sounds. The Eastern dialect is highly influenced by the vocabulary of the Transylvanian dialects.
Dialect spoken in the northeast of Hungary and in parts of Slovakia. This dialect is based on the standard literary Hungarian and because of that it has no significant differences from the standard form. Nonetheless, it does have some differences in vocabulary and due to its proximity to the region of Tisza-Köros, it has some resemblances to the dialect spoken there, such as the pronunciation of í instead of standard é and the lack of differentiation between closed and open e.
The region of Transylvania in Romania is home to two groups of Hungarian dialects: Mezőség and Székely. The dialects differ from Standard Hungarian in pronunciation and vocabulary, and loanwords from the Romanian language are common. The Transylvanian dialects still have archaic features of the Hungarian spoken in the Middle Ages that set it apart from the standard form of the language. An example of this is the use of the preterit tense, that fell into decay among other dialects.
Also referred to as the Moldavian dialect, it is spoken in some parts of Romania. Csángó is the Hungarian dialect that differs from the standard language the most and it is even considered a regional language. Like the Transylvanian dialects it preserves some archaic features of medieval Hungarian and it has a number of Romanian loanwords. However, it is difficult to understand even for speakers of both Hungarian and Romanian.
Hungarian, or Magyar how it is also called, is spoken by 13 million people worldwide. The language is spoken by almost 10 million people in Hungary, where it is the official language.
Considerable numbers of Hungarian speakers can be found not only in Hungary’s neighboring countries of Romania, Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Ukraine, but also in the U.S. and Canada.
Countries Where Hungarian is the Official Language
Slovakia (regional language)
Serbia (regional language)
Austria (regional language
The most significant wave of Hungarian immigration to the United States happened in the 1930s when Nazism started to spread across Europe. Fear lead thousands of scientists, scholars, artists, and musicians to leave Central Europe and Hungary. Prior to that, between 1890 and 1914, thousands of Hungarians had already reached the U.S. According to the United States Census Bureau, it is estimated that around 1.4 million Americans report Hungarian ancestry, as of 2013.8 However, there are only around 86,000 Hungarian speakers in the U.S.
Leading states with the highest Hungarian speaking population:
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