I am trying to learn Hungarian. It’s a difficult language, one of the hardest in the world, but I’m going to Hungary this summer with my best friend (who’s Hungarian), and I’d like to be able to communicate somewhat with her family and friends there. Also, having a best friend that speaks it is a huge perk in the friendship, so how could I not take advantage of it?

Though I have a friend whose native tongue is Hungarian Magyar, I’d still prefer not to bother her too often (and I have a lot of questions!). That is why I started involving myself in language exchanges. Over the weekend, I signed up for membership at several language exchange sites, and started communicating with some native Hungarian speakers.

I didn’t quite know how to begin, because most things that I had questions to could be answered online. So then I asked if there was a good method for learning, and my partner responded with a simple answer, though it had some profound implications at the time: study some childhood nursery school-type rhymes.

I hadn’t thought about that since I was a little child, though it was immediately clear how this could benefit me. Naturally, as a completely new beginner, I have no knowledge of the language I am trying to comprehend and learn. What better way to learn it than the same way a teacher or parent would teach a child? I’m sure that there are nursery rhymes and poems that you’ve learned as a child that you still retain memory of. Though most are fun and innocent but lack much educational benefit, there are several that I’m sure you’ll agree which were fundamental to grasping a basic concept (like an alphabet song or such).

So, my language exchange partner set me up with this poem/rhyme that is to teach the numbers 1 through 10 in a fun way:

Egy – megérett a meggy

Egy – megérett a meggy,

Kettõ – csipkebokor vesszõ,

Három – te vagy az én párom,

Négy – te kis leány hová mégy,

Öt – érik a tök,

Hat – hasad a pad,

Hét – zsemlét süt a pék,

Nyolc – üres a polc,

Kilenc – kis Ferenc,

Tíz – tiszta víz,

Ha nem tiszta, vidd vissza,

Majd a cica megissza

One – Ripe Cherries

One – the cherry has ripened,

Two – rosehip bush twig,

Three – you are my pair,

Four – you little girl where do you go,

Five – the squash is getting ripe,

Six – the bench is breaking,

Seven – the baker bakes buns,

Eight – the shelf is empty,

Nine – little Francis,

Ten – clean water,

If it’s not clean, take it back,

The cat will drink it then.

Yeah, the translation sounds like gibberish to me, too (might as well not even translate it), but isn’t this an awesome way to memorize the numbers 1 – 10? Here’s a video sounding out the poem in Hungarian Magyar:


    • Gabi, thanks for the comment! Reni is a great teacher, sometimes ;) I will check out that video soon, koszonom szepen!

  1. Oh, I love Susu!!! Chris, fix the translation by what I sent you! This Google translate version is so off, it makes no sense at all.

  2. Renike, I fixed the translation, thanks for that! I meant to fix it earlier, then that email got buried because I receive about 37 emails from you each day :)

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