"A vonatok nem újak."

Translation:The trains are not new.

September 10, 2016

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I can hardly hear the difference between short "a" and short "o" :-/


The pronounciation of that sentence is very clear and I am able to hear the difference. But depending on you native language you maybe need to train your ear for that difference, because you are not used to hear it.


I agree with Andres305 that it's recorded well and the difference is clear here, and it just takes practice if you're not used to it. I doubt you'll find better audio anywhere.

You might want to check out the pronunciation exercises in the beginning of the FSI Hungarian course.

They are at the beginning of "Unit 1 Tape 2" here: https://fsi-languages.yojik.eu/languages/hungarian.html

And the corresponding text in the book begins on page 8. There's a whole series of a words followed by a whole series of o words, and then there's a set of words that are identical except for an a/o difference.


Yeah, thanks. I didn't mean to imply there was anything wrong with the recording of this particular sentence. I know it's all me. I have had no such problems distinguishing vowels in German (long and short a ä e i o ö u ü although short "ä" and "e" are identical, plus three diphthongs, and actually, many more if you include the vocalised pronunciation of "r") or Finnish (long and short pairs of a ä e i o ö u y (y = "ü") as well as a tonne of diphthongs). Hungarian has a slightly odd distribution of vowels. There's no short, low, unrounded vowel, which I think makes it sound really cool, but I'm struggling with it for now.


Perhaps it would be easier to learn Slovak Hungarian :)

Possibly through influence of the Slovak language, their short "a" is unrounded, so "a á" differ only in length.


Well, "a á" and "e é" are the only two pairs that actually differ, NOT only in length but also in the way they are produced. You have to realign your mouth to produce them. All other pairs differ only in length.

Or maybe I misunderstood and you are talking about the Slovak "a á". In that case, sorry. :) What I wrote is about the Hungarian vowels.

For the Hungarian "a", I like to say that you need to align your mouth to form an "o", then drop your chin, open vertically only. For "á", you have to also open your mouth sideways, with your cheek muscles. The same difference goes between "e" and "é".


Hm, are you sure? I thought Slovak Hungarian was mostly palóc dialect, in which a and á differ but a is the more open one and á is the more closed one, as if á was a long a and a was a short á by standard phonemic value. :)

In Czech and Slovak, though, é is really just an elongated e and a is really a short á.


That's what I heard from a Hungarian family in the south-east.

After one lesson with a Hungarian from south-west Slovakia, her "short e" sounded like the [æ] in English "cat" -- so there seem to be a variety of Hungarian accents within Slovakia.


Interesting! Are their "e" and "é" also only differentiated by length?


I'm not sure! I'll have to ask my friend next time I see her.


What do the accent marks mean?


They mark "long" vowels.

With most vowels, "long" vowels are simply pronounced for a longer duration; with others (a á, e é), the long vowels are not only pronounced longer but the sound itself is also slightly different from the short version.


Thanks. I've started trying to pay more attention to them and I've been hearing the difference. :)

What about ö?


ö with an accent turns into ő, ü with an accent turns into ű.

I'm not sure whether the vowel quality changes here or not but I believe not - it's just the vowel quantity (length).


With ö = ő, and ü = ű there is only the length of the vowel different, like with most of the other vowels.

Only a = á and e = é are different in the quality of the sound as well as in the lenght of it

@Sayree3: You have to take care of the length of the vowels. They are of great importance:

öt = őt (five = him/her)

agy = ágy (brain = bed)

széken = székén (on the chair = on his chair)

sertés = sértés (pig = defamation)

And the most popular one:

Egészségedre = egész segedre

While the one of the left side means "all to your health" (or "Cheers!"), is the one on the right side something insulting: all onto your ass.

I hope, I wont get deleted ;-)


The time to learn proper pronunciation is now.



I keep wanting to make the same distinctions German does for "ö" and "ü" (especially "ö"), which is not just length :) (i.e. saying something like [œt] vs. [ø:t]).

Do you know whether it's [œt, œ:t] or [øt, ø:t]? Is it like French "neuf" or French "deux" / German "können" or German "Söhne"?


Sorry, I can not reply to your last comment, I do it here:

The hungarian ö and ő are phonetically like the ø.


Is "Trains aren't new" a feasible translation here? Not sure how far the "general statements take definite articles" logic can be pushed. Obviously the sentence without the definite article isn't too common in English, but it'd likely be what you want if the next sentence is "They have been crisscrossing continents since the middle of the 19th century."


I got the picture right before you wrote the possible context of it :-)

I would leave the article and add for focussing on the indefinite character I would add the word "valami":

Vonatok nem valami újak.


Honestly, I'm not sure why this comment got so much upvoted, "vonatok nem valami újak" sounds wrong and that "valami" has nothing to do with the "trains" part. "nem valami új" is like "not that new" or "not really new".

So, at the end of the day, if you wanted to say "trains (in general) aren't new", the grammatical way would really be "A vonatok nem újak" and not something starting with "vonatok".
But... this sentence still sounds as if being old was an inherent property of all trains. If you want to say a legitimate sentence about "trains" as an invention, it would be more complex in my opinion, I would try to use "újdonság" (~novelty) and it would be something like "A vonatok nem számítanak újdonságnak" (Roughly, "Trains don't count as a novelty").

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