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Where Are You From…

If you want to tell someone which country, state or city you are from, it’s not so easy in Hungarian as it is in English. “I’m from London.” How simple. In Hungarian, you can select from several phrases but they aren’t so easy.
  I_am from_London.
  Vagyok Londonból.
  That’s the literal translation of the sentence; to turn it into a real phrase, you have to swap the words since the verb “to be” can begin a sentence only in certain cases, and this isn’t among them: Londonból vagyok. But it isn’t a nice phrase anyhow, Hungarians rarely speak so. Let’s try different verbs.

  • Londonból jöttem. I came from London. This is good to say the place you’ve arrived from is London, but first, at an airport it will probably refer to the city you were recently in, and not your home, and second, if you’re chatting with someone on the net while being still in London, it’s a bit strange.
  • Londonban élek. I’m living in London. This is useful when you want to tell people it’s London where you’re currently living, no matter if you’re actually there at the moment or not.
  • Londonban lakom. I’m dwelling in London. This means practically the same, but can be used also when you’re staying in London for a limited time only, however being lodged there. The verb is also useful when you want to name the street you’re living in, or the type of the house or other place. Hungarians rarely say: családi házban élek, I’m living in a family house, i.e. an own home, they say: családi házban lakom.
  • Londonban vagyok. I’m in London. Returning to the original verb but changing the case, you can tell people you’re in the British capital, for the time being, no matter where you were an hour before or yesterday, no matter where will you go from there and when. Useful when traveling.
  • londoni vagyok. I’m a Londoner. Using the demonym suffix lets people know you’re belonging to the city, either by being born and educated there, or living there long enough to be considered a genuine Londoner. However, with country names, this will give the opposite result, as you can see below. Note that -i turns nouns into adjectives and therefore into lowercase.
  • angol vagyok. I’m English, I’m an English(wo)man. This refers to your nationality (which are also in lowercase in Hungarian).
  • angliai vagyok. I’m an Englandian. To use the name of a country with -i, if the country is wearing the name of a nationality, means you are living in the country, maybe even born there, but you aren’t of that nationality, you’re from a minority or born to immigrant parents. If the name of the country doesn’t come from a nationality (Amerika, Kanada, Mozambik, Izland), adding -i simply means any citizen of the country (however izlandi means Icelandic, both the nation and the language, but they’re named after the island, so a minority citizen will be called izlandi, too).

Láng Attila D., 2015.8.29., 15:45:03

Hungarian in English magyar nyelvészet

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