Skip to main content

Hungarian Genealogy: Research Tip #5

The theme of today's tip is: Spelling Variations

The Hungarian language is one of the most complex languages in all of Europe. This list/post is aimed at being a guide to help understand all the possible spelling variations you may come across in your Hungarian research.

*The confusion between CZ and TZ:
The Hungarian language is infamous for the use of CZ, and sometimes it's [technically] inaccurate use of TZ. As for the pronunciation of CZ/TZ, it's pronounced as the "C" in "dance" or the "TS" in "pots". Although CZ and TZ are used interchangeably, CZ should always be the correct spelling. The TZ variation is more commonly found in older documents; 1800's and prior. Here are a few examples:
  • Bencze & Bentze
  • Berecz & Beretz
  • Czakó & Tzakó
  • Ferencz & Ferentz
  • Herczeg & Hertzeg
  • Koncz & Kontz
  • Kurucz & Kurutz
  • Lőrincz & Lőrintz
  • Rácz & Rátz
  • Vincze & Vintze

*The additional confusion between CS and TS:
All this confusion seems to stem from the letter C! With this instance, however, the pronunciation is completely different than it's CZ counterpart. CS and TS, in Hungarian, are pronounced as the "CH" in "chug", "chores", "church", etc. You must note that CS/TS & CZ/TZ are not interchangeable with one another. Their pronunciations are completely different and could entirely change the meaning of the word/surname. In some rare occurrences, you may actually see CS or TS appear as CH. Here are a few examples:
  • Ács & Áts
  • Cseh & Tseh
  • Forgách & Forgács & Forgáts
  • Kovács & Kováts
  • Kulcsár & Kultsár
  • Lukács & Lukáts
  • Szakács & Szakáts
  • Szücs & Szüts
  • Takács & Takáts

*Surnames ending in -H:

There are many surnames ending in -H, that don't always necessarily require the -H ending. They are all pronounced exactly the same, with or without the -H. It has been said that the addition of the -H ending was originally meant to signify nobility, but I have seen no proof of this.. so take that with a grain of salt. Here are a few examples of these surnames:
  • Balog & Balogh
  • Bernát & Bernáth
  • Herczeg & Herczegh
  • Horvát & Horváth
  • Német & Németh
  • Olá & Oláh
  • Tót & Tóth
  • Vég & Végh / Vig & Vigh
  • Virág & Virágh

*Surnames ending in -I and -Y:
Most surnames ending in -I are almost always interchangeable with -Y. But it's not always the case. Most cases involve surnames that are derived from places names. Here are a few examples:
  • Bagi & Bagy
  • Baranyai & Baranyay
  • Budai & Buday
  • Földi & Földy
  • Győri & Győry
  • Kállai & Kállay
  • Paksi & Paksy
  • Sári & Sáry
  • Szalai & Szalay
  • Váradi & Várady

*The rare usage of KS/X:
It's probably not often that you'll come across this combination, but it's out there. These variations are pronounced exactly as you would think: "X", as in "x-ray". Here are a few examples to help you understand it's usage:
  • Apraksin & Apraxin
  • Baksa & Baxa
  • Jaksic & Jaxic
  • Kokso & Koxo
  • Paksi/Paksy & Paxi/Paxy

*The rare usage of LY & J:
This combination is relatively more common than KS/X, but it may still be rare. It's pronounced as in the "Y" in "hay", "ray", "bay", etc. You would mostly see this in older records, probably mid-1800's and earlier. Here are a few examples:
  • Borbély & Borbéj
  • Erdélyi & Erdéji
  • Gulyás & Gujás
  • Király & Kiráj
  • Mihály & Miháj
  • Székely & Székej

*The shortening of OÓ to Ó:
This combination doesn't always necessarily apply to surnames, but it has been applied to the rest of the Hungarian language. It's pronounced as the "O" in "hole", "mole", "pole", etc. Here are a few examples of the common Hungarian surnames containing OÓ and their possible variations:
  • Joó & Jó
  • Soós & Sós

*The rare OL & Ó:
As mentioned above, Ó is pronounced as the "O" in "hole", "mole", "pole", etc. Because of this "OL" sound, it sometimes appears written as such. Here are a few examples:
  • Bódog & Boldog
  • Pógár & Polgár

*The confusion between S & SZ:
These two, S and SZ, are not interchangeable within the Hungarian language. In the Hungarian language, S is pronounced like the "SH" in "ship", "wash", "ash", etc. It's very similar to the Germanic "SCH", as in "schneider". With SZ, on the other hand, it's simply pronounced like an English "S", as in "pass", "bills", "eggs", etc.

Comments

  1. Excellent article, Nick! You've included some good information and examples for those researching Hungarian names. I recognized many of those names from my personal family tree. Thanks for sharing your observations!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great summary. I would caution people to be careful with the 'y' ending. Remember that 'gy', 'ly' and 'ny' have their own distinct sound.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Excellent Nick! It helps those of us who are not fluent in Hungarian to correctly pronounce our Hungarian family name. It explains why my surname was changed to its American spelling. It's as close as it gets to sounding alike.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Excellent Nick! So very helpful in learning how to pronounce Hungarian surnames for people like me who is not fluent in Hungarian. It certainly explains the Americanized spelling of my name which sounds almost the same as the Hungarian spelling.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Ancestry.com's Hungarian Civil Registration Records

Ancestry.com has added a new database today called Hungary, Civil Registration, 1799-1978. I'd like to discuss some errors and issues I have with this database.

First off, I'm not entirely sure why the content is listed as beginning in 1799, since civil registration didn't begin in Hungary until October 1, 1895. From what I can see there are no images available for browsing and minimal indexes are available. The source information states the following for the database:

Original data: Hungary, Civil Registration, 1895-1980. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013.
These indexes came from FamilySearch, where they are easily browsable and searchable (for the sliver of what has been indexed so far). For Free. I began to wonder if the indexes were indeed one and the same from FamilySearch, so I did some searching. I know for a fact that I indexed and arbitrated the civil registration records for the town of Szentmihály in Szabolcs county, where my great-grandfather was born. I …

Austria, Vienna Population Cards, 1850-1896

The FamilySearch database entitled Austria, Vienna Population Cards, 1850-1896 documented local residents and travelers living in Vienna for the time period of 1850 through 1896, with the original documents being housed in the Wiener Stadt- und Landesarchiv (Vienna City and Provincial Archives). These records have been preserved on microfilm through the LDS and consists of 3,173 microfilm, which can be reviewed here in the microfilm catalog. Although there lacks to be a complete index for this collection, a great deal has already been indexed and provided online. I personally found the search form for this database to be rather limiting, with it not providing an option to search for an individual's place of birth, so I figured out a work-around.

Running a basic search for Hungary in the "Any Place" section on FamilySearch pulls back over 31 million results. We can restrict these results to specific Collections through the filter options on the bottom left of the search to…

Hungarian Funeral Notices & Family Relationship Terms List

An often overlooked Hungarian collection on FamilySearch holds a treasure trove of genealogical information. Hungary Funeral Notices, 1840-1990are printed funeral or death notices, similar to obituaries in other counties, and the originals are currently held at the National Széchényi Library (Országos Széchényi Könyvtár, or OSZK) in Budapest, Hungary. Over a quarter of the collection covers Budapest and the remainder for the rest of Hungary, although I have seen notices for individuals in Austria, Germany and what is now Croatia, Romania, Serbia and Slovakia. The funeral notices were preserved on microfilm by the LDS between 2003-2006 and consists of 582 microfilm and can be reviewed in the microfilm catalog. These were later digitized (accessible through both links above), but 9 microfilm still remain to be digitized. It's unclear why Syatmárz, Syecsez, Syeibert, and Syékely are spelled with SY, when it should be SZ.
Ebeczki-Blaskovich, Ernő-Edelényi Szabó, József2362003
Füzi, An…