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Hiring Hungarian Translation Services: The Top 3 Risks


Although English is the language of international communication, organizations aim to address the audience of non-English-speaking countries as well. Authenticity and the right choice of words are crucial in every form of communication, so don’t settle for anything less than a truly professional Hungarian translator.


1. Different language families.

Unlike English and the Romance languages, Hungarian is not an Indo-European, but a Finno-Ugric language. Hungarian’s closest (but still distant) relative is Finnish.


Hungarian is an agglutinative language: It adds suffixes to the words in order to express the case, the number and other meanings. This leads to the formation of extra-long and complex words. Here’s one example of multiple suffixes: levél (letter), levelez (exchange letters), levelezés (correspondence) and levelezésetek (your correspondence with someone).


Hungarian texts are not easily translated into English (and vice versa) by any automatic translation software because the logic behind the syntactic structures of English and Hungarian are very different, often resulting in odd outputs. You can be sure that Hungarian readers will spot these inconsistencies.


2. Complex phonological and morphological rules.

One of the most unique features of the Hungarian language is vowel harmony. This probably means nothing to English natives or other Western Europeans (it exists in Turkish and Finnish). In the Hungarian language, there are front vowels (e, é, i, í, ö, ő, ü, ű) and back vowels (a, á, o, ó, u, ú), and thus we can differentiate between front vowel-, back vowel- and mixed words. These categories are important to inflections.


The rule is quite simple at first glance: Nouns containing only high vowels get high-vowel suffixes, while nouns containing only back or mixed vowels get back-vowel suffixes. Let’s look at an example with the suffixes -ban and -ben, meaning “in (inside) something.” The words ház (house), kert (garden) and iskola (school) are inflected as follows: házban, kertben, iskolában (in the house, in the garden, in the school).


The tricky part is when you get a word that originally belonged to the other category but is no longer visible. It takes time for language learners to “feel” the right category, but it’s in the blood of a professional Hungarian translator.


3. Different cultural backgrounds.

Cultural context is obligatory in translating the meaning of the original text. The most challenging task for any professional translator is finding the right way to transfer cultural expressions and words from one language to another.


Professional Hungarian translators understand the cultures of the corresponding countries. They’re confident of the typical communication patterns and have a good educational background and safe grasp of both their mother tongue and the foreign language.

Translators are creative writers as well: unique culture-bound and equivalent-lacking words shouldn’t be an obstacle for them. These expressions convey ideas unique to the target language and culture, but a good professional Hungarian translation service knows how to translate the untranslatable.


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