Why is Hungarian so difficult to learn?
Hungarian is different from the Indo-European languages (English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, etc.) because it is a “gluing” language (agglutinating). It means that putting a word into a sentence you have to glue extra endings (suffixes) at the end of the word instead of using prepositions: az asztalon (on the table). In this way it is difficult sometimes to find the basic of the words (the word stem). You can see this as a LEGO-system.
The basic of the Hungarian vocabulary is extremely old. Therefore most of the words can not be related to words in other languages.
Fortunately there are thousands of international words in de vocabulary, especially in the scientific language. This causes a very interesting effect: when you want to speak about basic topics, you use basic words which may be difficult to remember. But as soon as your communication level grows above the basics and you talk about deeper topics you will find very easy words: these are from Latin, English or other languages. (The most obvious are the modern words of telecommunication or the information technology. Eg. tévé television, rádió radio, telekommunikáció telecommunication, szoftver softver, fájl file.) You should find these words and feel free to use them!
Some more example: maximális maximal, minimális minimal, normális normal, globális global, totális total, opcionális optional, komplikált complicated, logikus logical, riporter reporter, kondíció condition, tradíció tradition, demonstráció demonstration, definíció definition, koncentráció concentration, mutáció mutation, operáció operation, porció portion, szituáció situation, káosz chaos, kommunikál to communicate, kommentál to comment, diktál to dictate, gesztikulál to gesticulate, renovál to renovate, programoz to program.
The sound system is very easy and very difficult at the same time. The easy things are:
You have to pronounce everything as it is written (Hungarian has a phonetical writing system).
There are no diphthongs (when two vowels belong to one syllable).
There are no reduced sounds (sounds that sound shorter or not at all sometimes).
The intonation is always falling. (Except of questions.)
The emphasis (stress) is always on the first syllable of the word.
And now the difficult things:
There are some sounds that most of the Indo-European languages do not have.
The pronunciation of the ‘a’ sound. Except of Swedish and Dutch people this is very difficult for most of beginners.
Hungarians are able to produce short vowels in stressed syllables and long vowels in unstressed syllables.
Vowels are divided into two groups: auto-sounds (velars) and non-auto sounds (palatals) and in one word only vowels from the same group can be present. This is the vowel harmony.
There are linking vowels at suffixes; almost all endings have at least 2 variants.
There is only one past tense.
Only one present tense.
The future tense is not very often used, you can put a word meaning a time (majd later, holnap tomorrow) in a sentence and will be understood as future.
There is no passive conjugation.
There is a very-very strange conjugation in Hungarian. It is called definite conjugation.
Nouns have no gender.
Also the he and she does not exists separately, there is only one word for that (ő).
There are also no gender-specific articles.
After a number all nouns are in singular. It means you do not have to bother with plurals if you use a number (két ház two houses).
As Hungarian is a “gluing” language, words can get very long. Numerous endings can be attached to the base of the word: ház|as|ság|á|val with his marriage.