Hungarian Onomatology: Hungarian Versions of Names

2018.11.15

Many names used in German or English are also known in Hungary - in a slightly different version.

Holdover of History

Because of the Austrian rulership and the immigrated Germans many Hungarians speak a few words of German themselves - for a long time German even was a compulsory subject in school.

One thing I realised above all others shows itself when I introduce myself to new people and they learn in this context about me being a volunteer from Germany.
Because most of them then introduce themselves with the German version of their Name.

Other countries, other customs, other names?

Like most languages Hungarian, too, has it's own version for most of the "common" names, next to the typical Hungarian names.

Thanks to their habit of introducing themselves with their German name (when they do that I still ask them to be allowed to call them with their real, their Hungarian name and - if I don't know it - to show me how to pronounc it correctly) I know quite a few of the Hungarian-German name pairs.

Here is a small selection of people and names I've already met, with names that are pretty common in Hungary (even if they might be seen as a little outdated in Germany):

  • András or Endre --> Andreas (German) or Andrew (English)
  • Bálint --> Valentin (German and English)
  • Bence --> Benedikt (German) or Benedict (English)
  • Ferenc --> Franz (German) or Francis (English)
  • György --> Georg (German) or George (English)
  • István --> Stefan/Stephan (German) or Steven/Stephen (English)
  • Károly, Kárcsi for short --> Karl (German) or Charles (English)
  • Marton --> Martin (German and English)
  • Tamás --> Thomas (German and English)
  • Zsófia, usually only called Zsófi --> Sofia/Sophie (German and English)