Magyarok – Hungarians

Magyar, Hungarians

Magyars is a nation living in Central-Europe, in the Carpathian-Basin. The number of Hungarians today is about 14.5 million people. The number of people whose first language is Hungarian is 13.5 million all over the world.

10 million of these people live today in the Hungarian Republic, approximately 2.5 million in the neighbouring countries, and approximately 1.5 million all over the world. Hungarians were of the highest number of state-founding people of the Hungarian Kingdom in 1000. Since the partitioning of the kingdom (Trianon, 1920) one third of the Hungarian population has become an ethnic minority in the neighbouring countries. When considering the full number of the populations of the countries in the Carpathian Basin, Hungarians form the biggest nation.

In the antiquity the ancestors of Hungarians lived at the Eastern edge of Europe, near the river Káma. As they were dealing with raising animals, it is possible that they moved northwards, up to the river-head of Káma, in winter they moved down to the Caspian Sea, where the river Volga falls into it. This temporary moving can explain the duality of the Hungarian language and the presence of northern ugor and southern türk elements. According to myths, the ancestors of the Hungarian people were Hunor and Magor. In the chronicle by Kézai Simon Hunor and Magor moved to the Meotis Peninsula (Crimea) The ancestors of Hungarians might have taken part in the life of the Empire of the Huns, then in the Avar Empire.

In the middle of the 6th century the volcanic eruption on one of the islands of the distant Indonesia had a catastrophic short-term effect on the climate and in the northern and eastern parts of Europe, respectively in Middle Asia triggered a huge migration from the north towards the south and from the east towards the west. (“The Sun got dark and darkness ruled the Earth for 18 months”- wrote John of Ephesus about the events of the year 535 ( The expansion of China played an important role in the above mentioned process as well.

It is likely that due to the devastated pastures the Hungarians were also compelled to move southwards, to the new dwellings, to such territories they were familiar with from their temporary wanderings, which eventually followed the occupation of the Carpathian Basin. In 907 the borders of the country were secured for 1000 years by Prince Árpád resulting from the victorious battle at Pozsony (Bratislava today). Magyars kept the nations of Europe in fear with their famous bows and arrows untill they established their state.

The name Magyar can be found first in Arabic chronicles from the 9th century (“madzsar”). According to the theory of Finno-Ugric scholars the word magy means man, and an another version can be found in the language of manysi people (voguls) as well, who are a kin in language. The ending of the word magyar according to them is the word er meaning male, so the name of Hungarian people comes from magy-er compound. According to our medieval chronicles the leading tribe of the seven tribes (“hetumoger”) conquering the territory of the Carpathian Basin was Megyer tribe. Reigning prince Árpád belonged to this tribe as well. This tribe name was most probably also one version of the Magyar people’s name.

The origin of the words: Ungar, Hungarian is covered by legends. In the 11th century local people burnt up food before the invading German armies and sank their boats bringing them food on the Danube. Allegedly, these soldiers called this territory the land of Hunger first and paid horrible price for their attack. But other legends deal with this topic as well.

Horváth János claimed as early as in 1817 that “isten is a Hungarian word, meaning the name of a good and single deity.” His considering it a Hungarian word is justified, as according to data from those times no other people used the same word for a god. Anyway, isten is a very important word for us, and at that time it did not occur giving it away as a present due to “linguistic views”. The fashion of this giving away came only a few decades later, after the suppressing of the fight for freedom in 1848/49.

In the Sumerian language, which is considered an isolated language by linguists, a matching word of our word isten can be found. According to the dictionary by P. Anton Deimel, the meaning of the Sumerian istin, isten is “one, single”. Zakar András adds the following: “So the meaning of the word “Isten” is clear: one, the only, single. These adjectives or statements comply perfectly with the God, who often appears in the Old Testament as the unique. This word never appeared in the Sumeria language as a numeral.” (by Varga Géza)