“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me 350,000 times, and you are a weatherman.”
In this article, I will go through a series of typical phrases used to describe weather in Hungary. After that, I will provide a random weather report, similar to the ones that can be read in newspapers or heard on radio channels. We’ll also refer to the website of the Országos Meteorológiai Szolgálat (National Meteorological Service), or OMSZ for short.
Hungary is located in the Carpathian basin, around the edges of Central Europe. According to climatologists, the country has a “continental climate with a longer summer period.” This means that there is higher annual temperature variation and four distinguishable seasons. Although the country has uniform weather (due to its small size), a variety of words always present themselves in every weather forecast.
Visitors should keep in mind that any given day could start with sunny weather and clear skies. However, throughout most parts of the year, there is always a chance of catching a hail storm in the afternoon.
Basic Vocabulary and Some Examples
So let’s start with a few expressions, including how to refer to certain parts of the day and the days of the week. Fun fact: anyone from the neighbouring Slavic countries should have no problems remembering the days of the week from Wednesday to Saturday. Aside from those, Monday (hétfő) is translated as “the head of the week,” and Sunday (vasárnap) is a somewhat abbreviated phrase for “the day of the market” (Vásár napja). Tuesday (kedd) comes from the Old Hungarian word for “second.”
- ma, mai nap: today
- holnap: tomorrow
- tegnap: yesterday
- hétfő: Monday
- kedd: Tuesday
- szerda: Wednesday
- csütörtök: Thursday
- péntek: Friday
- szombat: Saturday
- vasárnap: Sunday
- jövő hét: next week
- reggel: morning
- délelőtt (de.): before noon (a.m.)
- dél: noon
- délután (du.): afternoon (p.m.)
- este: evening
- éjfél: midnight
- hajnal: dawn
- alkonyat: dusk, nightfall
- nappal: day, during daytime
- éjszaka, éjj: night, during the night
Keep in mind that the Hungarian language does not use capital letters when writing the days of the week.
In order to construct our very own statements about weather, we’re going to need a few words to describe it:
- időjárás: weather
- előrejelzés: forecast
- Nap, napos: Sun, sunny
- felhő, felhős: cloud, cloudy
- eső, esős: rain, rainy
- szél, szeles: wind, windy
- hó, havas: snow, snowy
- jég, jeges: ice, icy
- zápor: rain shower
- zivatar: rainstorm
- vihar: thunderstorm
- viharos: stormy
- hóvihar: snowstorm
- havazás: snowfall
- jégeső: hailstorm
- hőmérséklet: temperature
- emelkedni: to increase, to rise
- csökkenni: to decrease, to drop
- elérni: to reach
Here are a few extra (and more scientific) words that meteorologists tend to use in their forecasts.
- zivatarfelhő: thunder cloud (Cumulonimbus)
- pehelyfelhő: flake-cloud (Cirrus)
- rétegfelhő: layer-cloud (Stratus)
- gomolyfelhő: cloud-rack (Cumulus)
- csapadék: precipitation
- napfény: sunlight
- széllökés: (wind) gust
- felhőszakadás: downpour
Before we start, I have to clarify one thing: in Hungarian, idő means “time.” However when it comes to weather, it’s common to say just idő instead of időjárás (weather). For example, in the case of the sentence Esős időnk lesz, the word idő implies that we’re about to have some “rainy-time.” With this out of the way, we’re ready to take a look at our example sentences:
- Esni fog. It is going to rain.
- Esős napunk lesz. We’re going to have a rainy day.
- Felhős idő várható. The weather is expected to be cloudy.
- Szerdán napos idő várható. Wednesday is expected to be sunny.
- Holnap havazás várható. Snowfall is expected tomorrow.
- Délután a hőmérséklet húsz fok lesz. The temperature will be twenty degrees in the afternoon.
- A hőmérséklet húsz fok fölé emelkedhet. The temperature may rise above twenty degrees.
- A csapadék mértéke elérheti a húsz millimétert. The quantity of precipitation may reach twenty millimetres.
Due to the uncertainty in this profession, weathermen often use expressions like várható (to be expected), lehet (may), feltehetően (probably) or other sentence structures implying conditional statements in general. Also worth mentioning is that in Hungary, all temperature-related data is provided in degrees Celsius (°C).
The Orthography of Geographic Locations
The Hungarian Orthography distinguishes four main cases, all of which require a different approach to grammar. These four categories are as follows:
- Parts are written together as one word.
- Parts are separated with a hyphen.
- Parts are written separately.
- Names of institutions.
Category #1: The parts of the word are written together when the second part is one of the following:
Examples of these are Fokváros (Cape Town) and Horvátország (Croatia).
Category #2: The second part is connected with a hyphen if it is a common noun. This is probably the most common way to write the names of geographic locations, and includes:
Examples of these are Atlanti-óceán, Vértes-hegység and Tihanyi-félsziget.
Furthermore, it is also common to attach prefixes with a hyphen.
A good example is Új-Zéland (New Zealand).
Note: There is an exception in cases where the name of a city district has a common noun in the second part of its name. Here, the name ought to be written as a single word. For example, Sáros-patak (Muddy-stream, the name of a stream) is written with a hyphen, while Sárospatak (the name of a city) is written as one word.
Category #3: The words are separated when referring to different forms of government, the name of the location (such as “Kingdom” or “Republic”), administrative divisions (such as “country” or “shire”) and public premises (such as “bridge” or “street”).
Examples of these include Cseh köztársaság (Czech Republic), Király utca (King Street) and Zala megye (Zala Shire).
Category #4: Every word in the name of an institution (with the exception of conjunctions) must be written with the first letter being a capital letter. This rule applies to every school, ministry, union, etc.
- Budapesti Műszaki Egyetem
- Szegedi Tudományegyetem
- Szent János Kórház
- Szentendrei Rendőrkapitányság
The only exceptions here are the following words, which are written with lowercase letters:
Example: Déli pályaudvar.
The Main Landscapes of Present Day Hungary
Below, you will find vocabulary for the main landscape regions of present day Hungary, as they are taught in elementary schools. In weather reports, it is common to hear these names, along with phrases such as “North-West Hungary.” The vocabulary, along with English translations for these names, are as follows:
- kelet, keleti: east, eastern
- nyugat, nyugati: west, western
- észak, északi: north, northern
- dél, deli: south, southern
- Dunántúl: Transdanubia (literally: “beyond the Danube”)
- Alföld: the Great Pannonian Plains
- Alpokalja: the eastern stretch of the Alps (literally: “sub-Alps”)
- Kis-Alföld: Little Plains (a part of the Danubian Lowland)
- Dunántúli-középhegység: Transdanubian Mountains
- Dunántúli-dombság: Transdanubian Hills
- Északi-középhegység: North Hungarian Mountains
Here are some example sentences using these words. These are similar to what we might read in weather reports:
- Keleten napos idő várható. Sunny weather is expected in the east.
- A Dunántúlon erős széllökések várhatóak. Strong wind gusts are expected in the Transdanubia region.
- Szombaton zivatarok várhatók a Dél-Alföldön. On Saturday, rainstorms are to be expected in the Southern parts of the Great Plains.
Note: Without getting into politics and the labyrinth of history, I should mention that the Hungarian language is not just spoken inside the current borders of the country. A significant number of native Hungarian speakers can be found in regions of neighbouring countries, such as the Highlands of Slovakia, the Zakarpattia Oblast of the Ukraine, the Transylvania region of Romania, the Vojvodina region of Serbia, as well as a few other places. I have decided to include this information because in more detailed weather forecasts, weathermen frequently discuss the weather in these regions as well, before focusing in on the areas within the present day borders of the country. The following list shows how these places are referred to in the Hungarian language.
- Felvidék, Felföld: This is includes most of present day Western and Central Slovakia. The literal translation would be “Upland” or “Highland.”
- Kárpátalja: Zakarpattia Oblast (literally: sub-Carpathia).
- Erdély: Transylvania.
- Vajdaság: Vojvodina.
Example Weather Forecast
To wrap this all up, I’ve created a short weather report similar to what can be found on the OMSZ webpage, in order to illustrate how these short weather reports/articles appear in real life.
Here is the final cluster of words that are needed to be able to “decode” the text below:
- Néhány: few
- Sok: many
- Megszűnni: to cease to exist
- Kialakulni: to form
- valószínűség: probability
- Intenzív: intense
- Fokozatosan: gradually
- Hirtelen: suddenly
A Dunántúlon fokozatosan csökken záporok kialakulásának a valószínűsége. Felhőszakadás is előfordulhat, lokálisan 20 mm feletti csapadékkal, de néhány helyen jég vagy viharos széllökés is előfordulhat. Éjszaka során megszűnnek az intenzív záporok és zivatarok. In the Transdanubia region, the probability of rainfall formation is going to gradually decrease. Downpours may occur, with local precipitation above 20 mm. However, in a few places, ice or stormy wind gusts are to be expected. During the night, the intense rainfalls and downpours will cease.
With the vocabulary given above and some knowledge of Hungarian grammar, you should be able to understand most of this short forecast. If you feel confident enough, try to test your knowledge by checking today’s weather on the Országos Meteorológiai Szolgálat website. Good luck!