It tops most 'hardest languages to learn' lists on the Internet, Budapest Facebook groups are screaming with foreigners who need translations and after just saying good morning to a barista in a café he replied in English before I even had the chance to continue pretending to be a native born round the corner.
However despite all of that (and you'll probably think i'm talking out of my own arse when I say this too), it actually ain't all that bad.
Language learning is like driving through heavy fog. The more words and stuff you know, the brighter your fog lights become. The fog will always still be there, and it will still be terrifying at times, but at least you can make your way through to the other side.
I'm not gonna bore you with all of the grammar points or cultural odd bits (and it's also a little bit more complicated than this) but in a nutshell:
- You put almost everything directly onto nouns and verbs instead of 'around' them like English:
anya - mother -> anyám - my mother
beszélni - to speak -> beszélek - I speak.
beszéltem - I spoke. ('t' lets you know it is past tense)
- There are loads of brand new vowels, and to a born and bred Geordie they all sound verrry similar: a, á, e, é, i, í, o, ó, ö, ő, u, ú, ü, ű
- Sometimes you just leave out the verb, it's actually grammatically incorrect to have it there. Don't ask:
Gareth angol. - Gareth (is) English.
Viktor nem angol, ő magyar - Viktor (is) not English, he (is) Hungarian.
- Swearing in Hungarian is awesome:
Lófasz a seggedbe! Fuck off! (Literally: A horse dick into your ass!)
Nyald ki a seggem - Kiss my ass (Literally: Lick my ass)
- City names are awesome too:
Hódmezővásárhely is a town in Southern Hungary literally translated as 'beaver field marketplace'.
That's certainly not it, but I have an entire notepad of grammar rules wrote down and I still need space since there are more exceptions to the rule than rules themselves.
Once you have understood the concept of most of the grammar rules it's fairly easy to use them. Learning the vocabulary then becomes your Everest.
If you're learning Hungarian and you're a secret grammar freak like me, I definitely recommend HungarianReference.com. It unfortunately hasn't been updated recently, but it's a brilliant start to teaching yourself or as a companion to your study.