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Shop sign in Budapest:

Don't be cowed by the quixotic orthography.  The noodles are delicious, and you can get them right here in Philadelphia, and many other cities around the world.

Selected readings

[Thanks to Jonathan Silk]


  1. Thomas Rees said,

    June 6, 2023 @ 12:51 am

    I don’t call that “quixotic”; it’s just Hungarian.

  2. Victor Mair said,

    June 6, 2023 @ 7:45 am

    Right about the Hungarian word with 2 vowels and 5 consonants.

    I was talking about the mind-boggling sinoglyph, which we have discussed many times on Language Log (see "Selected readings").

  3. Peter B. Golden said,

    June 6, 2023 @ 10:28 am

    Hungarian orthography, so I was told by my mentor in Turkology (a Hungarian), is based on 12th century usages for the Latin script in Paris. I have no idea if this is true – although my mentor was not one to invent things. S in Hungarian renders š. Sz looks rather odd when one takes into account Polish sz (=š) etc.

  4. Andreas Johansson said,

    June 7, 2023 @ 12:52 am

    I read somewhere that the "reversed" values of S and SZ in Hungarian are due to contemporary German pronouncing /s/ as closer to [ʃ].

  5. Rodger C said,

    June 7, 2023 @ 10:01 am

    Hungarian fricatives can also be explained as:

    S = voiceless palatal, Z = voiced non-palatal. We start here.

    SZ = manner of articulation of S, point of articulation of Z.

    ZS = manner of Z, point of S.

    I don't know if this was what was on the devisers' minds, but it works. I figured it out long ago.

  6. Jarek Weckwerth said,

    June 9, 2023 @ 10:00 am

    Erm, it turns out that the Hungarian proves more of a problem than the sinograph.

    Bisztró is the Hungarian spelling of bistro and I think it doesn't take a linguist to realize that in this rather transparent context (along with the associated fact that it's four consonants, not five).

    The grapheme-to-phoneme correspondences are a bit different than Roger suggested:

    s = /ʃ/
    sz = /s/
    zs = /ʒ/
    z = /z/

    BTW, /ʃ/ and /ʒ/ are palato-alveolar, not just palatal. Hungarian does in fact have "plain" palatals in /ɟ/ (e.g. Győr).

  7. Rodger C said,

    June 9, 2023 @ 1:29 pm

    s = /ʃ/
    sz = /s/
    zs = /ʒ/
    z = /z/

    Um, that's just what I said.

  8. Jarek Weckwerth said,

    June 9, 2023 @ 4:23 pm

    (Apologies for missing the "d", Rodger.)

    In technical terminology, they don't differ in manner (all fricatives), only in place and vocing:

    (grapheme = /phoneme/ voicing place manner)
    s = /ʃ/ voiceless palato-alveolar fricative
    sz = /s/ voiceless alveolar fricative
    zs = /ʒ/ voiced palato-alveolar fricative
    z = /z/ voiced alveolar fricative

    You said "ZS = manner of Z, point of S", which I think would make it voiced non-palatal palatal (or maybe voiceless voiced palatal).

  9. Rodger C said,

    June 9, 2023 @ 5:39 pm

    Oh, sorry. I was using "manner" to mean voicing.

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