For those who want to know what language is spoken in Budapest, the answer is: Hungarian. Learning a little of the local language gives you a distinct advantage while you explore this amazing city. It can also give you the edge should you take a holidays in other countries where Hungarian is spoken, such as Croatia, Romania and Ukraine. However, when it comes to navigating your way around Budapest, knowing even a fraction of the local language can add a sense of freedom and excitement to your break.
Hungarian has its origins in north-west Russia, before early settlers made their way to Siberia and encountered nomads from Iran. However, the Iranian influence on the early Ugric tongue was only the first of a number of languages that have helped to create modern Hungarian. The early Hungarians spread to the Carpathian ranges, where they mixed with Germans, Eastern Europeans and travellers from Eurasia. Absorbing parts of all of these languages, Hungarian evolved into what is widely considered to be the most complex language in Europe.
Given its intricacies, the likelihood of you becoming fluent in Hungarian before you go on your city break is minimal. However, fluency isn’t a requirement for going on holiday; all you need are a few basic phrases to help you get by. While most of the locals speak English, learning greetings and pleasantries using the Budapest language can ensure that you are warmly welcomed, wherever you go.
Taking the time to learn a little Hungarian can be a fun thing to do. However, it also has some important, practical applications. With a smattering of the local language up your sleeve, you can ask for directions, order food, buy things and throw in a few pleases and thankyous along the way. It can also come in very handy, in the event that there’s an emergency situation on your holiday, so, at the very least, it’s worth learning a few sentences, should the need arise.
Learning a new language doesn’t have to be a major commitment or a chore; a few minutes a day should be enough to get you started. We’ve put together a handy list of some of the most common and important phrases that people use. On top of that, we’ve included some sound files to help you with the pronunciation. Click on the ‘play’ icon and you’ll hear those phrases spoken in the Hungarian, as they should be. From there, it’s merely a case of listening and repeating until the sentences stick in your memory.
While phrasebooks and apps are useful, nothing beats the personal exchange of having learnt a little of the lingo and blundering your way through it. In addition to endearing you to the locals, it shows respect for the destination and its inhabitants. You might even find that using the local language in Budapest helps to break any conversational ice and see you on your way to making new friends.