Langnage And Literature Of Hungary. The Hungarian language (Hung. Magyar nyelv) is an isolated branch of the Uralo-Altaic family, constituting a peculiar group with the now extinct idioms of the Uzes, Khazars, Petchenegs, and ancient Bulgarians. Leo Diaconus (10th century) called the Magyars Huns, and the people liked to consider themselves as such, being proud of Etele (Attila) and his brother Buda. The chronicle of the monastery of St. Wan-drill and Dankovszki connect them both with the Huns and Avars. Some connect them with both the Uigurs and the westerly Ogors or Yugri. There are also various fanciful derivations of the name Magyar from roots belonging to the Hungarian language. The Byzantine emperor Constantine Porphyrogeni-tus names the people Turkoi. The Magyars and the Osmanlis agree in the belief that they are kindred, and the former are called "bad brothers" by the latter for having resisted them. Klaproth deduces the Hungarian language from a mixture of Tartaric or Turkish with Finnic. Malte-Brun considers the Magyars as Finns who were subjected to the Turks and to an unknown Uralian people.

Bese found that Balkar tribes in the Caucasus boasted of being Magyars, and that the ruins of a Magyar town were yet visible S. W. of Astrakhan. Csoma de Koros, who went in search of the cradle of his nation, found many words in the Thibetan and other tongues of middle Asia akin in sound and sense to the Magyar, but was unable to solve the mystery of the original home of the race. Many Hungarian writers report that their ancestors brought from Asia works written in their national 34 characters, which were suppressed at the command of Pope Sylvester II. and with the aid of Stephen I., but which were taught as late as the beginning of our century in remote places among the Szeklers, and may be seen in S. Gyarmathy's grammar as well as in George Hickes's Linguarum Veterum Sep-tentrionalium Thesaurus (3 vols, fol., Oxford, 1703-'5), under the name of Hunnorum litterce. The language is now accommodated to the Latin alphabet, and consists of 26 simple and 6 compound sounds, agreeing, unless otherwise noticed, with the Italian, viz.: 8 vowels: a (like English a in what, swallow) e, e (French), i (also y), o, u, o (Fr. en), u (Fr. u); 18 consonants: b, d, f, g hard, h (German), j (German), k, I, m, n, p, r, s (Eng. sh), t, v (also w), z (French), sz (Eng. s), zs (or 's, Fr. j); 4 compounds with y: gy (dy, as in gyar, factory, pron. dyar, in one syllable), ly (as in Fr. fille), ny (Fr. gn), ty; and 2 compound sibilants: cs (written also ch, ts; Eng. tch) and cz, c, or tz (Eng. ts). With the addition of the vowels marked as long with the acute accent, as for instance d (long Italian a), i, o, o, u, u, there are 38 sounds in all, besides x, which is used only in foreign names, as in Xerxes. As in Turkish and other kindred tongues, the whole mass of words and grammatical forms is divided into two groups, viz., into those of high and low sound.

The former is determined by the presence of e, o, u, the latter by that of a, o, u, in the roots or stems; those with e or i constitute a neutral ground. All formative and relative suffixes have therefore a double form, in harmony with the roots to which they are attached; thus: vail, shoulder, vallal (shoulders), undertakes, vallalat, enterprise; but bees, worth, becsul, (he) respects, becsulet, respect. Whatever changes the Magyar language may have undergone under adverse circumstances, amid hostile nations, it has yet retained its essential peculiarities of phonetism, grammar, and construction. Although it contains many Slavic, Latin, German, Greek, and other foreign words, it has digested them in its own way, assimilating them otherwise than the western nations have done with the same element; thus, schola, Slav. Mas, Ger. Schnur, became iskola, kalasz, sinor. The concurrence of harsh sounds and of consonants is as much avoided as in all the languages of central and eastern Asia. The roots remain unaltered, and most frequently bear the accent in all their derivatives. - The most peculiar feature of Hungarian grammar is its system of suffixes.

In the possessive forms of nouns they are varied according to the number and person of the possessor and the number of the object, giving 12 distinct terminations, as follows: hazam, my house, hazaim, my houses; hazad, thy house, hazaid, thy houses; haza, his or her house, hazai, his or her houses; hazunle, our house, hazaink, our houses; hazatok, your house, hazaitok, your houses; hazoh, their house, hazaik, their houses. In verbs they are made to indicate not only the voice, mood, and tense, and the person and number of the nominative, but the definiteness or indefiniteness of the object, and in one form (indicative present, first person singular) the person of the object, as varlak, I expect thee; kerleh, I ask thee. The following table exhibits the suffixes of the indicative present, the root being always the third person singular of the indefinite form, and the vowels varying, as above stated, in consonance with that of the root:






Plur. Sing.



-em (-om)


-ek (-ok)





-ed (-od)































Examples: varom, I expect him, her, it, them, er the man; varok, I expect, wait; varatom, I am expected; kered, thou askest him, etc.; kersz, thou askest; keretel, thou art asked; Iatja, he or she sees it; lat, he or she sees; Iatjuk, we see it; latunk, we see, etc. Other moods and tenses are formed by inserting new letters or syllables between the above suffixes and the root, or in a few cases by a change of the final vowel or consonant, and by auxiliaries; thus: vara, waited; varank, we waited; vartunk, we have waited; varnank, we would wait; varandok, I shall wait; varjatok, that ye wait. The auxiliaries are: volt or vala, for the pluperfect; legyen, for the conjunctive past; volna, for the optative past. The infinitive is formed by suffixing ni to the root, as varni, to expect. A combined future is formed by the infinitive with the auxiliary verb fog; thus, varni fogok, I shall wait; varni fogom, I shall expect it. Possession is indicated by the irregular verb lenni, to be; van, is; vannak, are; volt, was; lesz, will be, etc.; thus: anyam van (mother-my is), I have a mother; also with the mark of the dative, nekem vannak kerteim (to-me are gardens-my, milii sunt horti), I have gardens. Negation is expressed by nem, not; nines, is not, nincsenek, are not; sines, is neither.

Various kinds of verbs are made by affixing certain syllables, thus: at or tat, causative; gal, gat, etc, frequentative; dul, inceptive; inserting n, diminutive; hat, potential; it, int, etc, transitive; kodilc, reciprocal; odik, kozik, reflexive, etc. Examples: ver, he beats; veret, he causes to beat; vereget (verdes, verde-gel), he beats often; verint, beats softly; vere-kedik, fights with; verodik, beats against; vergodik, beats himself (breaks) through; ver-het, can beat; verethet, can cause to beat; verinthet, can beat gently; verekedhetik, can fight with somebody; verodhetik, can knock against; vergodhetik, can break through, etc. All these and similar derivatives can be conjugated throughout in the same way as the simple verb. There are besides these other compounds with prefixes: ala, down; altal, through, by; be, in; bele, into; el, of, away; ellen, against; fel, up; hi, out; ossze, together, etc.; and especially meg, which is an emphatic particle denoting attainment of the aim, accomplishment (like the German er and be in erlangen, begraberi). - There is no gender; he and she are expressed by the same word. The definite article az or a' is of recent use. The adjective precedes the substantive, and receives the marks of relations only when standing by itself.

The relations called cases and those expressed by prepositions in Indo-European languages are denoted in all Altaic tongues by suffixes. The plural is formed by k. Cases: e, genitive; nak, genitive and dative; t, at, accusative; ban, in; ba, into; bol, out of; ert, for; hoz, to; ig, till; kent, like, instead, as; kep, in manner of; kor, at the time of (about); nal (Latin apud, German bei), at; on, upon; rol, down; ul, instead, as; va, (changed) into; vol, with, by, etc.; almost all the suffixes being harmonized with the stem. Examples: szemeink-ben, eyes-our-in; ebedeikkor, dinners-their-at-the-time-of. The separable postpositions are of three categories: 1, answering to three questions, where? whither? whence? thus: elott, before (where?); ele, before (whither?); elol, from before; such are alatt, below; korott, around; kozott, between, among; megett, behind; mellett, near by; 2, of two forms, as he-gyett, hegye, upon, etc.; 3, of one form, as ellen, against; irant, regarding, etc. The comparative degree is formed by suffixing bb; the superlative by prefixing leg to the comparative; thus: nagy, great, nagyobb, greater, legnagyobb, greatest.

Pronouns: 1st person, en, I; enyem, mine; nekem, to me; engemet, me; mi, we; mienk, ours; nekilnk, to us; minket, us; 2d person, te, tied, neked, tegedet; ti, tietek, nektek, titeket; 3d person, of both genders, o, ove, neki, ot; ok, ovek, nekik, oket. These are joined with relative prefixes, thus: bennem, in me; beloled, out of thee; hozzajok, to them; alattam, under me; alattad, under thee, etc. In addressing a person we say on (self), plural onok, or kegyed (thy grace), plural kegyetek, for both genders; or az ur, sir (the lord or gentleman); urasagod, sirship-thy; az asszony, lady; asszonsagod, la-dyship-thy; formerly maga, self; to persons of lower standing, kend, you. Numerals: egy, 1; ketto, ket, 2; harom, 3; negy, 4; ot, 5; hat, 6; het, 7; nyolcz, 8; kilencz, 9; tiz, 10; tizenegy, 11, etc.; liusz, 20; harmincz, 30; negyven, 40, etc.; szaz, 100; ezer, 1,000. Ordinals: elso, 1st; masodik, 2d; the others are formed by suffixing dik, as negyedik, szazadik, etc. All other varieties are formed by suitable suffixes. The formation of parts of speech, and of various categories of signification, is extremely luxuriant by means of suffixed letters or syllables, so that an indefinite and yet ever intelligible mass of words may be made to suit all conceptions and shades of meaning.

This plasticity of the Magyar, together with its free syntax, renders it capable of expressing the turns of other tongues and the Greek and Latin metres with more ease and fidelity than almost any other language. We subjoin an example of construction and of elegiac distichs:

Perfiak! igy szolott Pannon vesz-istene hajdan: Men! so spake Pannonia's war-god (its) of old:

Boldog foldet adok, vijaatok erte ha kell,, Blessed country give-I, fight-ye for-it if need, 's vittanak elszantan nagy bator nemzetek erte and fought decidedly great brave nations for-it 's veresen a' diadalt, regre kinyerte magyar. and bloodily the victory lastly gained (the) Hungarian.

Ah de viszaly maradott a' nepek' lelkein: a' fold Alas, but discord remained the nations1 souls-in: the land Boldogga nem tud lenni az atok alatt happy-made not knows (can) be the curse under.


This language is spoken by more than one third of the population of Hungary in its wider sense, by more than one fourth of that of Transylvania, and in some places of Moldavia, "Wallachia, and Bukovvina. It consists of four dialects, which do not differ so much as those of other tongues, viz.: the Gyori, of Raab, or Trans-Danubian, and the Bihari on the Theiss, both represented in books; the Palocz in the Matra mountains, in the contiguous districts of the counties of Heves, Borsod, Gomor, Hont, and Nograd, with more genuine ancient Magyar words than the preceding; and the Szgkely in Transylvania and the contiguous countries, with many Tartaric words, and of a drawling pronunciation. The language has varied very little in progress of time. - Hun-garian Literature is comparatively of late date. The introduction of the religion of Rome under King Stephen I. (997-1038) made the Latin, the language of its priests and teachers, predominant in the court, the higher institutions for education, administration, and justice, and among the higher classes in general, who found it the most convenient medium for communication with the representatives of the cultivated West and South in diplomacy, literature, or religion.

Of the time of the Arpads and the next following period only Latin chronicles are preserved, of which those of the "Anonymous Secretary of King Be1a" (II.) and Simon Keza, the Chronicon Budense, and the Chronicon Rerum Hungaricarum of John Turoczy (Thurocius), are the most remarkable. The court of Matthias Corvinus (1458-'90) at Buda was adorned by distinguished native and foreign scholars. Of the latter, Bonfinus wrote an interesting though often legendary history of Hungary in Decades IV., which was published with a continuation by Sambucus (Basel, 1568). Galeo-tus wrote on Matthias himself, whose librarian he was, and Callimachus on Attila and Uladislas I. Among the natives the poet Janus Pannonius holds the foremost rank. The preserved remnants of Hungarian writings of that period are very scanty. The spread of the reformation in the following century, as in most countries of Europe, promoted the culture of the native tongue. But the simultaneous disasters of the country, the Turkish and civil wars, and chiefly the introduction of the German element with the dynasty of the Hapsburgs, checked the development of a flourishing national literature.

Parts of the Scriptures were translated into Hungarian during the 16th century by Komjati, Erdosi, Heltai, Szekely, Juhasz, Karolyi, and others. Gal, Juhasz, Kulcsar, Telegdi, Decsi, and Karolyi distinguished themselves as orators. Tinodi, Valkai, and Temesvari sang the warlike exploits of their times in light verses, Kakonyi the deeds of Cyrus, Csaktornyi the heroes of the siege of Troy; Balassa, Rimai, and Erdosi composed lyrical poems of incomparably higher merit. In the 17th century the Hungarian muse found votaries in Zrinyi, the grandson of the defender of Sziget, who celebrated in rhymed alexandrines the deeds and death of that hero, in Liszti, Pask6, and Ko-hary, and especially in Gyongyosi, who sang the defence of Murany by Maria Szecsi. Molnar and Kaldi translated the Scriptures; the primate and cardinal Pazman and Kecskemeti were distinguished as orators; Csere even published a cyclopaedia of sciences and a treatise on logic in Hungarian. This national movement in literature was paralyzed by the growing influence of the German dynasty; the bloody persecutions of the patriots under Leopold I. (1657-1705) suppressed it almost entirely.

The Latin again became predominant, being cultivated in the 18th century by a large number of scholars in every branch, who vied with each other in the purity of their dead idiom, and compared with whom the Magyar writers Fa-ludi and Bessenyei, the founders of a classical and a French school in poetry, Orczy, Count Teleky, Bar6czi, Revay, and others, formed but a feeble minority. A new and fertile period began about the close of the last century, chiefly in consequence of the Germanizing measures of Joseph II. (1780-'90), which caused a lively and general reaction. Societies for the cultivation of the national tongue were formed, literary, political, and scientific periodicals started, national theatres established, and various linguistic theories developed. This movement, being identical with the general regeneration of the nation, triumphed over all foreign elements after the first quarter of the present century, about the beginning of which Francis Kazinczy, the great reformer of the language after Revay, and the popular poet Csokonai, appear as the foremost in literature. The poets Dayka, Verseghy, and Vi-rag, and the novelist Dugonics, were their contemporaries.

The lyrical "Loves of Himfy " (Hymfy szerelmei), by Alexander Kisfaludy (1801), were received with general admiration, and were followed by his "Tales " (Regek) and other poems. Berzsenyi wrote glowing odes in Roman metre. The poets Andrew Horvath, Dobrentei, Vitkovics, Kis, and Paul Szemere, belong both to the period of regeneration and to the golden age of Hungarian literature, which embraces the 30 years preceding the revolution of 1848-9. This period opens with the simultaneous activity of five classical writers, Charles Kisfaludy, the brother of Alexander, Kolcsey, Fay, Czuczor, and Vorosmarty, of whom only the last three survived it. Kisfaludy may be regarded as the creator of the Hungarian drama by his tragedies, and still more by his really national comedies, some of which are as yet unsurpassed. Kolcsey's lyrical poems, ballads, and prose writings, including orations, are distinguished by a spirit of ardent patriotism. Fay's "Fables" (Mesek) are excellent specimens of that kind of poetry, in the manner of Lessing. Czuczor, distinguished also as a grammarian and lexicographer, is chiefly renowned for his popular songs and his historical epics in hexameter, the "Battle of Augsburg " (Augsburgi utkozet) and "Assembly of Arad" (Aradi gyules). The latter, however, were excelled by the more numerous epics of Vorosmarty, "Cserhalom," "The Flight of Zalan" (Zalan futasa), "Er-lau" (Eger), etc, which, together with his tragedies, short novels, songs, and especially odes and ballads, gave him the foremost rank among the writers of his nation.

In lyrical poetry, next to Vorosmarty and Kolcsey we find Bajza, who is also remarkable as an ses-thetical critic and historical writer, Peter Vaj-da, John Erdelyi, Kunoss, Alexander Vachott, Csaszar, and Garay, whose ballads also rival those of Vorosmarty. Toward the close of the period appear the three youthful popular poets Tompa, Arany, and Petofi, of whom the first two excelled chiefly in tales and legends, and the last in light and playful songs, whose subjects are love, liberty, independence, nature, and all that can touch the heart or inspire the imagination. Fictitious literature was chiefly cultivated, if not created, by Josika, whose historical novels, "Abafi," "The Last of the Bathoris" (Utolso Bathory), " The Bohemians in Hungary" (Cseheh Magyarorszagban), etc, exercised the greatest influence upon the development of Hungarian prose after Kazinczy. Smaller though not inferior works were written by Peter Vajda. In many respects both were surpassed by Eotvos, whose " Carthusian " (A carthausi), a philosophical romance, " Village Notary " (A falu jegyzoje), an admirable picture of recent political life in Hungary, and "Hungary in 1514" (Magyarorszag 1514ben), a historical novel, place him among the most eminent writers of his age.

Kuthy is often eminent in pictures of nature, and Ignatius Nagy in caricaturing characters; both produced imitations of Sue's "Mysteries," taken from Hungarian life, but disfigured by unnatural exaggerations. Kemeny and Jokai belong also to a more recent period, both as novelists and publicists. The principal dramatic authors besides Kisfaludy and Vorosmarty were Katona (Bankban), L. Toth, Garay, Szigligeti, who is eminent in popular plays, Gal ("The Notary of Peleske"), I. Nagy, Emeric Vahot, Paul Kovacs, and Czak6. Travels were written by Belenyei (America), Csaszar (Italy), Bartholomew Szemere, Irinyi, L. Toth, and Gorove (western Europe), Mehes (Switzerland), Jerney (southeastern Europe), and Reguly (northern Russia), the work of Szemere being one of the most remarkable productions of the period; political works by Szechenyi, Wesselenyi, Kossuth, Eotvos, Szalay, B. Szemere, and others; the best histories by M. Horvath, Peczely, and Jaszay (Hungary), Bajza (the ancient world), and Toldy (national literature); philosophical treatises by Szontagh, Marki, Gregus, and others; the best statistical works by Fenyes, Vallas, and Kovary. Natural sciences, theology, languages, and antiquities also found numerous representatives.

The best grammatical and lexicographical works on the national language were written by Czuczor, Fogarassy, and Bloch. The beautiful songs of the people were published in various collections, among others by Erde1yi; miscellaneous writings by Pulszky, Lukacs, Frankenburg, Gabriel Kazinczy, Gondol, Berecz, Pompery, Amelia Bezeredy, Theresa Karacs, and others. Of translators we will mention only Szab6, who published an admirable metrical version of Homer. During the revolution of 1848-9 the muses were silent, excepting only the stirring songs of war. The battle field closed many a glorious career, as in the case of Petofi, and destroyed many an incipient genius, as in that of the eloquent Vasvari. After the close of the war the dungeon, the scaffold, and exile doomed the most gifted of the nation to silence. The last quarter of a century is therefore in a literary respect inferior to the preceding period, though productive of a large number of publications of different degrees of merit. Some of them, mostly belonging to the surviving representatives of the preceding period, are worthy of their great popularity. In poetry the imitators of Petofi have been numerous.

Among the most remarkable productions are the poems of Tompa, Arany, Sa-rossy, Lisznyai, Levai, Gyulai, Nicholas Szemere, Szasz, Jambor (Hiador), Sukei, Szeles-tei, Bozzai, Losonczy, Szekely, and others; the novels of Kemeny, Josika, Jokai, Palfy, Gyulai, and Berczy; the humorous writings of Bernat and Radakovics (Vas Gereben); the historical works of Szalay, Joseph Teleky, Jaszay, Toldy, Csengery, Palugyai, Meszaros, Fejer, J. Hunfalvy, etc.; the political writings of Eotvos and Kemeny; the translations of Stephen and Charles Szab6, P. Hunfalvy, Csengery, Irinyi, Szasz, and Sukei; the travels of Emanuel Andrassy (India), Nendtwich (America), Podmaniczky (northern Europe), Magyar (southern Africa), Emma Teleky (Greece), etc.; and the dramas of Szigligeti and others. Journalism and oratory, both of which attained their highest development during the later period of Kossuth's agitation, have been revived by the restoration of the Hungarian constitution. This sketch, which includes various Magyar productions of the Transylvanian press, excludes all more modern non-Magyar literary productions of Hungary belonging to the Slavic, German, or other literatures. - Among the principal works on Hungarian history (in various languages) are those of Bel, Pray, Gebhardi, Katona, Fessler, Engel, Maj-lath, Horvath, Peezely, Toldy, A. de Gerando, Szalay, and Kerekgyarto. See also A. J. Patterson, " The Magyars: their Country and Institutions " (2 vols., London, 1869).