Sunday, May 21, 2017

Why you should (not) learn Hungarian or Romanian

Hungarians and Romanians tend to hate each other. This confuses us Americans because they all just seem the same to us - White people that have a funny accent. But these two nations have a bitter dispute concerning which country has the rights to Transylvania. This is still such a serious matter that I have been warned that I shouldn't discuss this topic in polite company.

This feud is sad to me as I love both countries. I have lived briefly in Budapest and Bucharest. And I have made an effort to learn both languages (more so Hungarian.)

Unless you plan to live permanently in these countries, I would not recommend trying to learn these languages. As a tourist, you will find English is universally spoken at all the places you will visit. All young people in both countries speak English as it is a required language in their schools. And the old people who don't speak English rarely have jobs that interact with tourists.

I also believe that if you are serious about a language you need to live with a native speaker, or know a native speaker who is willing to spend time teaching you. Self-study is good, but it will only take you so far.

I spent many hours trying to learn Hungarian. But I hit a wall and became discouraged. I switched to Romanian as it is an easier language to learn (it is similar to Spanish). But that didn't help much as I ended up being a failure with two languages. Maybe I will add Klingon.

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