Difference between revisions of "Hungary"

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Revision as of 18:15, 13 October 2007

Hungary (Hungarian: Magyarország), is a landlocked country in the Carpathian Basin of Central Europe, bordered by Austria, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia. Its capital is Budapest. Hungary has been a member state of the European Union since May 1 2004.


Hungarian (magyar nyelv) is a Finno-Ugric language (more specifically an Ugric language) unrelated to most other languages in Europe. The Hungarian name for the language is magyar [ˈmɒɟɒr].

There are about 13 million native speakers, of whom 9.5-10 million live in modern-day Hungary. Some two million speakers live in areas that were part of the Kingdom of Hungary before World War I. Of these, the largest group live in Romania, where there are approximately 1.4 million Hungarians. Hungarian-speaking people are also to be found in Slovakia, Serbia, Ukraine, Croatia, Austria, and Slovenia, as well as about a million people scattered in other parts of the world.

Hungarian is written using a variant of the Latin alphabet, and has a phonemic orthography. In addition to the standard letters of the Latin alphabet, Hungarian uses several additional letters. These include letters with acute accents á, é, í, ó, ú which represent long vowels, umlauts ö and ü and their long counterparts ő and ű. Sometimes (usually as a result of a technical glitch) ô or õ is used for ő and û for ű, due to the limitations of the Latin-1 / ISO-8859-1 code page, though these are not part of the Hungarian language, and are considered misprints. Hungarian can be properly represented with the Latin-2 / ISO-8859-2 code page, but this is not always available. (Hungarian is the only language using both ő and ű.)

Most Hungarians are not fluent in English, but it is very common to be taught in elementary and high school as a second language.


Hungarian names use the eastern name order, in which family name is followed by given name. Hungary is the only European country to do so. So the terms "first name" and "last name" are potentially confusing and should be avoided, as they do not in this case denote the given and family names respectively.

Hungarian names are usually "switched" when individuals that have such names are mentioned in media in Western countries; for instance, Puskás Ferenc is known as Ferenc Puskás in English.

When Hungary was under Habsburg rule and became influenced by Western European traditions, women became known by their husbands' names, e.g. Szendrey Júlia, marrying Petőfi Sándor, became Petőfi Sándorné (the -né suffix approximately means "wife of", this is the Hungarian equivalent of "Mrs. John Smith"). This was both the law and the tradition until the 1950s. During the Communist era of Hungary, great emphasis was put upon the equality of women and men, and from that time women could either choose to keep their birth names or took that of their husbands in the aforementioned form.

Currently, the alternatives for a woman when she marries are the following (using the example of Szendrey Júlia and Petőfi Sándor – Júlia and Sándor are their given names, respectively):

  • Júlia can keep her birth name Szendrey Júlia (now popular, especially among more educated women)
  • Júlia gives up her name, adds the suffix -né to her husband's full name, and will be called Petőfi Sándorné (rare among young brides)
  • Júlia adds the suffix -né to her husband's family name, adds her full name and will be called Petőfiné Szendrey Júlia (rare among young brides)
  • Júlia adds the suffix -né to her husband's full name, adds her full name and will be called Petőfi Sándorné Szendrey Júlia (rare among young brides)
  • Júlia takes her husband's family name, keeps her given name and will be called Petőfi Júlia (the Western custom – most popular)

Since January 1, 2004 there is one more possibility: the hyphenation of names; also, now men can take their wives' surname. Thus Júlia can become either Petőfi-Szendrey Júlia or Szendrey-Petőfi Júlia while Sándor either keeps his own name or hyphenates in either order. Changing names to each other's names (e.g. Petőfi Sándor and Szendrey Júlia become Szendrey Sándor and Petőfi Júlia) is not allowed. The law that one can have a maximum of two last names still applies, if one or both of the partners already have a hyphenated name, they have to choose a maximum of two names or keep their birth names.

Both the bride and the groom has to declare before the wedding which name will they use; also, they have to declare which surname will their children get (this can be changed up till the birth of their first child). Children can get either parent's surname if that parent kept her or his surname in the marriage, but children born in the same marriage must have the same surname. Since 2004 they can also get a hyphenated name, but only if both parents kept their birth names at least as a part of their new name. Currently children usually get their father's surname; hyphenating names is a rising trend. The marriage of same sex partners is still not allowed in Hungary, so they cannot legally use each other's names, unless going through the formal name change process.

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