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I was told by somebody who has lived near Hungary that she thought that Hungarian and Turkish were related, and that their languages are very similar. A brief google search seems to support this.

However, that article does say that this grouping is "criticized by some contemporary linguists" and the article doesn't seem to be linked from the main Turkish language page (it is on the Hungarian one though). The main consensus seems to be that Hungarian is more related to Finnish than Turkish as well.

Today, are these considered related languages in terms of origin? And which is Hungarian really closer to, Finnish or Turkish? (Hungary seems ethnically closer to Turkey but it's not quite geographically close to either)

  • The proposed "Finno-Ugric" grouping does not include Turkish at all, so I don't see how it is relevant to your question. – sumelic Dec 16 '18 at 11:21
  • @Riker you are right, I should have just added it as a comment. There is a Wikipedia article about the Turkish words in the Hungarian language, but it's available in Hungarian language only ( hu.wikipedia.org/wiki/… ). – Botond Dec 16 '18 at 13:17
  • @Botond thanks, that's a pretty interesting read (fed through google translate). – Riker Dec 16 '18 at 17:15
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    Much of Hungary was ruled by the Ottomans for over a century, and there are a fair number of loanwords dating from this time. – Matt Dec 16 '18 at 17:28
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    @Matt In fact, I had expected more and more interesting loanwords. Almost all loans seem to refer to Islam, Tukish bureaucracy, and some food items. Nothing touching the core vocabulary. – jknappen Dec 18 '18 at 12:49
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Turkish and Hungarian are typologically similar: They are both agglutinating languages with vowel harmony and rather rich vowel inventories.

They are, to our best knowledge, not genetically related. Hungarian belongs to the Uralic language family including Finnish, Estonian, Sami, and about a dozen languages spoken in Russia. Turkish belongs to the Turkic language family. Many linguists in the past and in the present have speculated about larger language families comprising both Uralic and Turkic, but no demonstrable regular correspondences have been found so far.

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    It worth mentioning that "Hungarian is a Turkic language" is still a popular theory in Hungary. It is, of course, completely unfounded and is espoused for ideological reasons, but the situation can be confusing for laypeople. – user54748 Dec 15 '18 at 21:01
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    @user54748 What ideological reasons do people espouse it for, anyway? I find it kind of surprising that Hungarians would generally want to associate themselves more closely with Turkish peoples (I mean, feel a close cultural and/or historical connection)...? – Owen_R Dec 15 '18 at 23:04
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    @Owen_R because of pan-Turanism: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turanism – ubadub Dec 16 '18 at 3:31
  • I've decided to accept this answer since it seems to be the most accurate and up-to-date one. – Riker Dec 19 '18 at 0:01
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Hungarian belongs to the Ugric subgroup of the Uralic language family, while Turkish belongs to the controversial Altaic language family. Nevertheless, Hungarian has had some kind of contact with Turkic languages, hence the influence in its vocabulary. However language relationship cannot be based on loanwords and contact based influence, but systematic correspondences in phonology (regular sound laws) and grammar. So, Hungarian is undoubtedly closer to Finnish as a member of the same language family, but not closer than what Spanish is to Welsh (both Indo-European languages in different subgroups). Hungarian is closer to other Ugric languages which like Finnish and Estonian belong to the Uralic language family.

  • @Riker Do you refer to Hungarian and Finnish specifically? – Midas Dec 15 '18 at 22:12
  • @Riker: To get a simple idea you can look at this: helsinki.fi/~jolaakso/f-h-ety.html I will have a look for something on grammar that is not too complicated. – Midas Dec 15 '18 at 22:31
  • @Riker: It is hard to get simple when it comes to grammar comparisons. Anyway, here is another paper analyzing grammatical aspects of Finno-Ugric. On page 44 you will also find a tree of the Uralic family. This is going to give you an idea on the linguistic distance between these languages. kb.osu.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/1811/81543/… – Midas Dec 15 '18 at 22:53
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    Re: "Hungarian is [...] not closer [to Finnish] than what Spanish is to Russian": That seems like a rather bold claim. I'm not even sure quite how one would assess it. Do you have a reference? – ruakh Dec 16 '18 at 6:59
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    Looking at some dates for the protolanguages, the split between Finnish and Hungarian is significantly younger (ca. 2000 BCE) than the one between Spanish and Russian (ca. 3500 BCE) – jknappen Dec 16 '18 at 21:44
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Hungarian belongs to Uralic language family. Turkish belongs to Altaic language family. Both language groups belong to super Uralic-Altaic language family. Uralic-Altaic languages have many commonalities;

  • Suffix oriented
  • Vowel harmony
  • No genders like he, she or it
  • No plural form after numbers, like five cow
  • Special words for people older than you

Both languages are Asiatic, they have originated from close locations. There are cultural similarities as both are from almost same steppes.

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    That language family (uralic-altaic) is not used anymore, since it has too many flaws. Do you have a better source? – Riker Dec 17 '18 at 0:28
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    Also, do you have a source for the "originated from close locations" part? – Riker Dec 17 '18 at 0:29
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    Agglutination (suffixes) is by no means indicator of relationship. Georgian is agglutinative but has no relation to Turkish nor Hungarian. There are numerous agglutinative languages that have no relation at all. Also Altaic with exception to Turkic and Mongolian is a controversial group, which makes Ural-Altaic even more controversial. I would put a note on that if I were you, to avoid downvoting. Those are my five cents. – Midas Dec 17 '18 at 5:41
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    @ilhan Sigh. Schools should not teach unsound theories long falsified by scientific standards. – jknappen Dec 18 '18 at 13:13
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    And I'm not directly disagreeing with what you say, but I'm requesting sources other than personal experience (i.e. peer reviewed papers or similar). Though to be fair, Finland is right next to Sweden yet Sweden is not Uralic. Geography isn't everything. – Riker Dec 18 '18 at 23:51

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