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Hungarian in Words and Pictures (A Textbook for Foreigners): József Erdős, Endre Kozma, Csilla Prileszky, György Uhrman
Hungarian in Words and Pictures (A Textbook for Foreigners)
Author: József Erdős, Endre Kozma, Csilla Prileszky, György Uhrman
Publisher: Tankönyvkiadó Budapest
Publication date: 1990
Number of pages: 611
Format / Quality: .djvu
Size: 11 908 KB
This book is a well-thought out introduction to an incredibly complex language. Its approach is at once conversational and grammar focused. The grammar is presented with an absolute minimum of text, but lots of diagrams and pictures that gradually make the ideas clear. Hungarian sentence structure, which is notoriously unlike English, German, or Japanese with their fixed word orders, is presented in this book as a framework in which the verbal phrase is third in the sentence, following an optional subject and focused element. That may sound a bit complicated, but it works, and works effectively because of the book's carefully designed and consistently applied diagrams.

Early in the book, each chapter in the book introduces a different grammatical topic, starting with basic sentence structure, first with and without the copula, then locative cases, and intransitive verbs in the present tense. Transitive verbs and the accusative case don't appear until relatively late, which can be a limitation for early attempts at communication. Each chapter starts with a short reading text, and the texts are loosely related to a visit to Budapest. The texts are actually quite effective at preparing students for their own visit to Budapest, since they manage to cover districts of the city, transportation options, shopping, eating in restaurants, and tourist highlights. Inside the front cover is a handy chart summarizing the main types of verbal conjugation.

The standard organization of the chapters is pedagogically sound, especially for classroom usage. Following the short introductory reading is a graphical overview of the new grammar point for the chapter, then a variety of picture-based exercises to practice the grammar and vocabulary. A graphical lesson about sentence structure often follows, again with pictorial exercises for either verbal or written practice. A longer text often comes next, followed by a word list of new vocabulary for the chapter in Hungarian and English, organized by part of speech. The chapter closes with dialogues and review exercises that can be done orally, and finally a few bilingual translation exercises. What is especially strong about the exercises is that most of them are not simple translation or mechanical exercises. Instead, since they are pictorially-based, they get the students to create communicative attempts at the language without relying on visual memory of words or rote memorization. My only complaint about the book is that the word lists tend to be rather long- -much too new much vocabulary is tackled in each chapter. This book would be an excellent choice for classroom usage. Individual learners may find the textless grammatical points hard to understand without a teacher, but linguistically inclined students find the diagrams illuminate the heart of the matter.

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