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Hungarian (magyar), is a Uralic language with about 15 million speakers in Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Ukraine and Slovakia. There are also many people of Hungarian origin in the UK and other European countries, the USA, Canada and Australia.

Hungarian is a highly inflected language in which nouns can have up to 238 possible forms. It is related to Mansi, an Ob-Ugric language with about 4,000 speakers who live in the eastern Urals, and Khanty or Ostyak, the other Ob-Ugric language which is spoken by about 15,000 people in the Ob valley of western Siberia.

The earliest Hungarian literature, dating from the 12th century, was in Latin. Texts in Hungarian started to appear during the 13th century. The first book to be printed in Hungarian was published in 1527 in Krakow, Poland. Hungarian literature flourished during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Modern HungarianEdit

The first printed Hungarian book was published in Kraków in 1533, by Benedek Komjáti. The work's title is A Szent Pál levelei magyar nyelven (In original spelling: Az zenth Paal leueley magyar nyeluen), i.e. The letters of Saint Paul in the Hungarian language. In the 17th century, the language was already very similar to its present-day form, although two of the past tenses were still used. German, Italian and French loans also appeared in the language by these years. Further Turkish words were borrowed during the Ottoman rule of part of Hungary between 1541 and 1699.


In the 18th century, a group of writers, most notably Ferenc Kazinczy began the process of language renewal (Hungarian: nyelvújítás). Some words were shortened (győzedelem > győzelem, 'triumph' or 'victory'); a number of dialectal words spread nationally (e. g. cselleng 'dawdle'); extinct words were reintroduced (dísz 'décor'); a wide range of expressions was coined using the various derivative suffixes; and some other, less frequently used methods of expanding the language were utilized. This movement produced more than ten thousand words, most of which are used actively today.

The 19th and 20th centuries saw further standardization of the language, and differences between the mutually comprehensible dialects gradually lessened. In 1920, by signing the Treaty of Trianon, Hungary lost 71% of its territory, and along with these, 33% of the ethnic Hungarian population. Today, the language is official in Hungary, and regionally also in Romania, in Slovakia, and in Serbia.

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