There are some 14 million Hungarian speakers in the world, of whom about 10 million live in Hungary.
The Hungarian name for Hungarian is magyar (said about the same as mud-yar or [ˈmɒɟɒr] phonetically.
Hungarian is an Uralic or Finno-Ugric language, related to Finnish, as mentioned, but not as close as Estonian and Sámi. More like a distant cousin. There are similarities, but a Finnish speaker doesn't understand much if any Finnish. I have a feeling Finnish is easier for Hungarians to understand.
There is a Hungarian script or runes called Rovás Script
Now-a-days Hungarian uses Latin aphabets with some additions... so they have 44 letters in their alphabet.
The "missing" letters are what is called "foreign", that is, only used in borrowed words.
Here's a video on how to pronounce them, and here's another that gives examples of items beginning with the letter, and how they are read.
It looks much more complicated than it really is. But - just as comparison, Finnish has 27 letters, of which 8 are foreign (B,C,F,Q,W,X, Z and Å) - so in practice, we have 19 letters, Hungarian 40. :-D
About the six golden sentences... Apple is alma, to give is ad, John in Janos and it is a/az or e/ez... the rest...
THE FOLLOWING SENTENCES ARE MY TRANSLATIONS,
MORE OR LESS EDUCATED GUESSES,
NOT ACTUAL, CORRECT HUNGARIAN,
SO DON'T BELIEVE THIS IS
THE WAY OF SAYING THESE THINGS IN HUNGARIAN,
The apple is red. Az alma piros
I'm about 90% certain of that.
It is John’s apple. Az a alma Jánosé?
The confidence dropped immediately. Hungarian doesn't have genetiv case. It has 18 cases, but not one of the most usual ones :-D
I give John the apple.
én adok... adom... János... nak... er... alma...az alma... almat? Én adom az almat Jánosnak? It should be dative... but Jánosnak doesn't sound right. It's probably because Jánosek is a last name. But is any part of the sentence correct to begin with? Except that alma is an apple and János John.
We give him the apple. - Mi adjuk neki azt ???
he/she gives it to him - ő adja neki azt... azt neki ??? Oh, why is Lang8 down?
I don't give John the apple. - Nem adom azt Jánosnak - or?
I must give it to him. én kellem adni azt neki?
I want to give it to her. én akarom adni azt neki?
Let's see if I do any better in the end of this week :-D
Anyway, Hungarian is an agglutinative language, it uses postpositions, it has 18 cases, give and take, two types of articles (definite and indefinite), adjectives has three cases and do NOT agree with the noun, the verbs too have two conjugations (definite and indefinite), two tenses (only, thankfully) and three moods, two numbers and three persons. The biggest problem is the conjugations... there appears to be a lot of rules and exceptions on when and how to use them, so - just to learn by heart.
Hungarian word order is free, as the cases indicate what is being talked about. (John has an apple and an apple has John are two different sentences, but when you say Jánosnak az alma van or az alma van Jánosnak - because the word without ending is the one doing things. (Naturally depending if I guessed it right.) And in Hungarian you say "an apple is with/by/at John", like in Finnish and Russian etc.
The most used is SVO.
Hungarian has a "a four-tiered system for expressing levels of politeness"
I don't know what it means, yet, because that's not something most people learn as the first thing about a foreign language. Well... we did it in German, but there it's really easy. The Hungarian system is difficult even for Hungarians. I suppose a foreigner can use the "non-native" card aka "idiot" card. ;-)
Now, Hungarian is a bit different as Ugric language, and that's why there are a lot of different theories of the Hungarian origins. Some say it's not Ugric/Uralic language at all, but Turkic/Altaic.
There is the legend of the stag that supports the Sumerian Origin theory, and also the Hunn - Hungarian connection (In the legend, there were two brothers; Hunor (forefather of Hunns) and Magor (forefather of all Magyars). But - the origins of Hungarians is so far back in the history it's hard to say anything definite.
Here's Wikitravel's Hungarian phrasebook with a lot of good and useful phrases.
THE FOLLOWING SENTENCES ARE NOT CREATED BY ME AND SHOULD BE CORRECT :-D
- Formal, when addressing a stranger: "Good day!": Jó napot (kívánok)! [joːnɒpot kivaːnok].
- Informal, when addressing someone you know very well: Szia! [siɒ] (it sounds almost exactly like American colloquialism "See ya!" with a shorter "ee".)
- Viszontlátásra! (formal)
- Viszlát! [vislaːt] (semi-informal),
- Szia! (informal: same stylistic remark as for "Hello!" )
Excuse me: Elnézést! [ɛlneːzeːʃt]
- Kérem (szépen) [keːrɛm seːpɛn] (This literally means "I'm asking (it/you) nicely", as in German Danke schön, "I thank (you) nicely")
- Legyen szíves! [lɛɟɛn sivɛʃ] (literally: "Be (so) kind!" - This is the more common form)
Sorry!: Bocsánat! [botʃaːnɒt]
Thank you: Köszönöm [køsønøm]
Yes: Igen [iɡɛn]
No: Nem [nɛm]
I do not understand: Nem értem [nɛm eːrtɛm]
I do not know: Nem tudom [nɛm tudom]
generic toast: Egészségünkre! [ɛɡeːʃːeːɡynkrɛ] (literally: "To our health!")
I love you: Szeretlek [sɛrɛtlɛk]
Help!: Segítség! [ʃɛɡiːtʃeːɡ]
1 - egy
2 - kettő
3 - három
4 - négy
5 - öt
6 - hat
7 - hét
8 - nyolc
9 - kilenc
10 - tíz
11 - tizenegy
12 - tizenkettő
13 - tizenhárom
14 - tizennégy
15 - tizenöt
16 - tizenhat
17 - tizenhét
18 - tizennyolc
19 - tizenkilenc
20 - húsz
21 - huszonegy
22 - huszonkettő
23 - huszonhárom
30 - harminc
40 - negyven
50 - ötven
60 - hatvan
70 - hetven
80 - nyolcvan
90 - kilencven
100 - száz
200 - kétszáz
300 - háromszáz
1000 - ezer
1,000,000 - millió
very straightforward here too. I would say "tizen" is the same root as "toisen" and "toista"
Here's Verbix, the verb conjugator, for Hungarian verbs
black - fekete
white - fehér
gray - szürke
red - piros , vörös (piros is more orange red, the one learned first, vörös means "blood red", scarlet. They are considered in Hungarian to be two different colors.)
blue - kék
yellow - sárga
green - zöld
orange - narancssárga
purple - lila
brown - barna
Here's a good guide to Hungarian and grammar, written by an Englishman for English speaking audience.