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Hungarian Lexicon

Giving an exact estimate for the total word count is difficult, since it is hard to define what to call "a word" in agglutinating languages, due to the existence of compound words. To have a meaningful definition of compound words, we have to exclude such compounds whose meaning is the mere sum of its elements. The largest dictionaries from Hungarian to another language contain 120,000 words and phrases (but this may include redundant phrases as well, because of translation issues). The new desk lexicon of Hungarian language contains 75,000 words and the Comprehensive Dictionary of Hungarian Language (to be published in 18 volumes in the next twenty years) will contain 110,000 words. The default Hungarian lexicon is usually estimated to comprise 60,000 to 100,000 words (Independently of specific languages, speakers actively use at most 10,000 to 20,000 words, with an average intellectual using 25-30 thousand words). However, all the Hungarian lexemes collected from technical texts, dialects etc. would all together add up to 1,000,000 words.

Hungarian words are built around so-called word-bushes. Thus, words with similar meaning often arise from the same root.

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The basic vocabulary shares a couple of hundred word roots with other Uralic languages like Finnish, Estonian, Mansi and Khanty. Examples of such include the numbers kettő 'two', három 'three', négy 'four' (cf. Finnish kaksi, kolme, neljä, Estonian kaks, kolm, neli, Mansi китыг kitig, хурум khurum, нила nila), as well as víz 'water', kéz 'hand, arm', vér 'blood', fej 'head' (cf. Finnish and Estonian vesi, käsi, veri, Finnish pää, Estonian pea or 'pää).

The proportion of the word roots in Hungarian lexicon is as follows: Finno-Ugric 21 %, Slavic 20 %, German 11 %, Turkic 9.5 %, Latin and Greek 6 %, Romance 2.5 %, Other of known origin 1 %, Other of uncertain origin 29%. Except for a few Latin and Greek loan-words, these differences are unnoticed even by native speakers; the words have been entirely adopted into the Hungarian lexicon. There are an increasing number of English loan-words, especially in technical fields.

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