dictionary is aimed mostly at brave Americans
who are interested in learning Hungarian, but
would also help Hungarians learning English.
author makes a valiant effort to explain the intricacies
of the Hungarian language, some of which I am
not sure the American reader, used to a simpler
structure, will be able to follow without a live
teacher. The bilingual list of abbreviations is
very helpful. So is the extensive pronunciation
guide with special attention paid to vowel harmony.
Appendices at the end are quite useful. I would
have moved the Hungarian irregular verbs to the
beginning of the book where Hungarian grammar
is discussed, but perhaps the author felt that
the juxtaposition of both English and Hungarian
irregular verbs might be more interesting. These
are followed by a listing of numbers and measurements
in both languages as well as the States and Territories
of the USA,
inccluding their abbreviations.
oddity at the very end is that some of the authors
listed among the Works Consulted have their names
in the order as used in English, with given name
first, followed by a comma and family name last,
as e.g., Imre, Móra Gábor, Kiss,
but Pusztai Ferenc has his name in the order used
in Hungarian: family name first, followed by given
name with no comma.
had some doubts about some of the entries:
Kenyér n bread; livelihood, a living-may
be somewhat confusing. It is appropriate in a
large dictionary but, without examples of the
way the word is used in the second meaning, it
is beyond the scope of a small, practical dictionary.
dictionary does little to explain the use of the
intricate system of Hungarian suffixes, except
for listing some of them and giving a few sentences
as examples. This list is helpful to those interested
in the Hungarian language who want know what the
suffixes stand for, and it is easy to apply when
the suffix is a simple addition to a word, as
in "mi" (nominative case) v. "mit"
(accusative case). However, it must be confusing
when a vowel (and not always the same vowel) is
inserted between the word and the suffix -t.
E.g. "könyv" (book) becomes "könyvet"
v. "óra" (hour), which becomes
"órát," or when
the final vowel of the root word changes with
the addition of the suffix: konyha (kitchen)-
konyhává ([transform] into
does the dictionary explain the consonant harmony
rules, whereby the first consonant of a suffix
disappears and the last consonant of the root
word is doubled instead; thus the resultative
suffix -vá, -vé, as in konyha
- konyhává, becomes gá:
boldog - boldoggá ([make somebody]
happy) instead of boldogvá.
then again, a relatively small dictionary like
this cannot be expected to be everything to all
people. Perhaps the intention was to whet the
appetite of the linguistically curious to venture
further into the mysteries of the Hungarian language.
perused this dictionary page after page and could
barely find a typo here and there, which
is a credit to the typesetter and proofreader.
I also liked the simple, clear layout, and the
easy-to-read type size. It is not the typesetter's
fault that Hong Kong was
spelled in the English way, and not the Hungarian
way, which is Hongkong.
in all, this practical dictionary is what it says
it is: a practical companion for the American
traveler. It is definitely an asset for second-generation
Hungarians whose mother tongue may be Hungarian,
but whose dominant language is English, who know
to eat chicken paprikash in Hungarian but
perhaps find it difficult to talk about weapons
of mass destruction, sexual harassment,
or cell phone (which they will find in
the dictionary), or domestic violence (which
they will not). It is of little use to the translator
who is supposed to be beyond this stage.