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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seriously a good introduction to Hungarian, 17 May 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Colloquial Hungarian: A Complete Language Course (Colloquial Series) (Paperback)
Colloquial Hungarian by Jerry Payne
Planning a holiday sightseeing and walking in Hungary we discover to our horror that the language is, for practical purposes, totally unlike any other! So needing a friendly book to get to grips with pronunciation and the basic words for survival and civility, we bought this book unseen from Amazon - and we have not been disappointed.
There is an audio cassette which needs to be purchased separately.
First published by Routledge, London in 1987, Colloquial Hungarian was simultaneously published in USA and Canada. There have been seven reprints up to 2000 which is a good indication of popularity.
After 4 pages of very readable introduction the book is divided into 16 units, generally each of these is divided into three parts:
1. Texts - practical examples, dialogues and articles, introducing useful vocabulary (rather than postillions being struck by lighning), word lists, exercises.
2. Grammar - utilising the words already learned, more exercises.
3. Functions - day-to day communications skills such as greetings, time, dates, requests, expressing quantity, writing letters, reading signs and notices.
46 pages of 'answers to exercises' and a handy 64 page 2-way Glossary (Dictionary) complete the A5 size book, just about small enough to carry around on holiday as an emergency reference if (as is most probable) you have not committed it all to memory before travelling.
Some good things this book tells you about learning Hungarian -
* Pronunciation and emphasis is absolutely regular (almost). The introduction says that memorising words is hard but it gets easier, but it does not say how long this takes.
* No grammatical genders to complicate learning nouns.
* Adjectives always come before the noun and do not vary.
Some hard things it reveals about learning Hungarian -
* Apparently you cannot get away with 'pidgeon' Hungarian, it does not make sense and will be greeted by blank stares.
* No genders to worry about, but words are divided into 'back' and 'front' words according to their sound, and this affects choice of related endings.
* Hungarian is an 'agglutinative' language. There are lots of suffixes which do have to harmonise with the word to which they are attached. And Affixes too. Words can get very long indeed, which is unnerving to say the least.
In conclusion, if you need to understand the Hungarian language, this is a very practical and user-friendly book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good to start with, 7 Feb 2010
Manish Sharma (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Colloquial Hungarian: A Complete Language Course (Colloquial Series) (Paperback)
its really a very good starting book to learn Hungarian Language. with 16 chapters its a complete starters kit. Grammer is good. I can speak someof the basic hungarian bcz of this book. Will refer it to everyone...
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hungarian, the Language of love? Maybe, Maybe Not!, 9 Mar 2012
This review is from: Colloquial Hungarian: A Complete Language Course (Colloquial Series) (Paperback)
Hungarian is one of the languages that especially fascinates linguists because it bears no discernible relationship to those spoken in any neighbouring countries.

Though categorised as part of the family that includes Finnish and Estonian, it belongs to a quite different branch of that family, and the only tongues to which it bears close kinship are Khanty and Mansi (once known as Ostyak and Vogul) ... which are spoken 2,000 miles away in Siberia!

"Colloquial Hungarian" by Jerry Payne is an exemplary textbook from which to learn this difficult, near-maverick language.

However, on first perusal, even more intriguing than the linguistic explication are the hints of a love story in the sample sentences and the dialogues (which read much more like genuine conversations than the stilted exchanges normally found in such textbooks).

On p 15 we are told "Janos is Hungarian" and "Eva is a beautiful woman."

On p 17 we read "Eva is here" and "Janos is clever."

But then on pp 18 - 20 we get the first extended dialogue: Eva is hitch-hiking to Budapest, and Janos offers her a ride all the way from Vienna. We learn that Eva has an English father and a Hungarian mother. Janos compliments Eva on speaking her mother's tongue so well. They cross the border into Hungary.

On pp 27 - 28 they seem to be achieving a real rapport. We discover she's a student, and he works as an export salesman for a firm in Budapest.

On pp 44 - 47 they fill up at a petrol station, and then stop off at a roadside restaurant for a drink, teasing the waiter about stocking only expensive German beer (not Hungarian or Polish) and ruffling him further by seeking assurance that it will be served cold!

Arriving in the capital city on pp 61 - 65, Janos is headed for Pest but offers to drive out of his way to deliver Eva to her friend's place in Buda. She says that she can walk the last part of the journey; but Janos, worried that she'll get lost wandering around Buda on foot, insists. With help from a map, and advice from a friendly pedestrian, they locate the address.

Back to sample sentences: "Janos imports British goods" we learn on p 69, and "Eva tends to look down on stupid people."

By this time I was convinced the couple were made for each other! Janos was clearly confident enough not to feel threatened by Eva's self-assurance, which others might interpret as arrogance. I had formed a precise image of Eva: tall; casual but elegant; pale complexion but jet-black hair; and her serious demeanour mitigated by her occasional, winningly impish smiles.

The next couple of dialogues (p 80 et seq) depict Eva's transactions in a bank and a bookshop ... but no sign of Janos!

Still no Janos on pp 102 - 107, but we meet Eva's friend Magda. Bored with TV they decide to go to the cinema: Magda suggests a film by Hungarian director Jancso, but Eva says "Jancso's too abstract for me" so they wind up seeing "Three Men in a Boat." Emerging from the cinema, Eva realises that it was silly to see an English film abroad, so Magda says next time they'll go to see a Hungarian play at the National Theatre.

PP 124 - 129: the phone rings - "Hello, Magda, it's Zoltan" "Which one? There are lots of Zoltans around!" He identifies himself more precisely as her old friend Zoltan Vajda, and offers to take both her and Eva to the Turkish baths. At the baths, we find the two women luxuriating happily, but Zoltan is impatient: "Here we are, sitting in hot water doing nothing, like Turkish Pashas! Fancy a game of chess?" They don't. "I'll go get a beer" "You're not allowed to drink in here" "Then I'll get some food" "You're not allowed to eat either!" " Then I'll go for a swim in the other pool: I trust that isn't forbidden! Are you coming?" "No, we'll stay here"

Zoltan would not seem to represent any kind of rival for Eva's affection!

On pp 146 - 149 Magda receives an invitation from Pista, yet another male friend, to a barbecue in far-away Kisoroszi. The dialogue then concentrates on travel arrangements, and contains no mention of Janos.

AHA! On pp 168 - 170 Eva is writing home to Mum: she says "a nice young man took me all the way from Vienna to Budapest. His name is Janos, and I see him occasionally"


But no, Eva goes on to describe the film, the play, the baths (mentioning Zoltan only to record his "Turkish Pasha" jibe) and the barbecue. She does not refer to Pista at all, she simply reports that she had a good time but ate and drank so much that the following morning she had a stomach-ache.

And then ... Eva and Janos disappear for nearly 70 pages!

On p 239, to test the reader's grasp of the conditional tense, we are asked to replace the Hungarian for "Janos loves Eva" with the Hungarian for "It would be nice if Janos loved Eva."

And that's it, we are told no more about them.

So sad: Eva would have looked lovely in white!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 20 Aug 2014
Dr. G. Hyde (Norwich UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Colloquial Hungarian: A Complete Language Course (Colloquial Series) (Paperback)
prompt and correct
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