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Mini mission: Reawakening a dead language! (Hungarian)


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It's time to raise the dead!!

My secret mission that is taking up the vast majority of my time in Berlin continues (don't worry, I'll tell you all about it when the time is right! For now, it's so secret that I can't even give clues as to what it is or when I can tell you about it!), but it's time for one final mini-mission!

Next weekend I'll be flying back to Budapest to spend the weekend at the first ever Polyglot Conference, and will get the chance to meet a few well-known online polyglots in person for the first time (several of which did the Skype Me Maybe music video with me), as well as some other friends you'll have seen make appearances on this blog including Christine, Susanna, Balint and Brian, and fun people I've been in touch with online for a while and am really looking forward to meeting!

We chose to do the conference in Budapest, as it's where Kató Lomb, a wonderful female polyglot who wrote a great book on language learning, used to live. Having lived there for a couple of months, I think it's a wonderful city!

While it's only one weekend, and I'll likely be speaking other languages most of the time (practising all my main languages with the other polyglots, as well as giving a presentation in English) I do want to make sure that I'm using as much Hungarian as I can otherwise!

But unlike with my recent Polish/Norwegian projects, I actually have already had a Hungarian mission!

Almost three years ago, I had the project to reach conversational level in Hungarian, and at the end of my time was able to record this spontaneous chat in the language. It went well, and it's a project that I was quite happy with! However, the problem is that since I take on so many language projects, unfortunately I simply can't maintain all of them and several end up getting forgotten.

Hungarian is among these – I really can't say anything in Hungarian these days; it's almost as good as if I had never learned it! Since I don't exactly have a super memory, the only way I can keep a language alive is by being active in it, and I stopped maintaining Hungarian entirely.

Three years may seem like a short time, but I've had a pretty hectic and intense three years, and have been learning new languages which tend to replace the old ones in my head if I don't maintain them.

Despite this, I know that it's somewhere in my head! This mini-mission will be a new experience for me because I've never tried to reawaken an effectively “dead” (or forgotten) language from the past.

Since I'm still very busy, but wanted to do much more than my previous missions of just 2 or so hours, I've set aside ten hours before my flight to see how far I can get. It's not ideal, and because of that, it's unlikely I'll reach the same level as what I had by the end of my mission, but I hope to try to get as close as I can to it, and hopefully be able to have conversations in the language (I think I've shown with the Polish mission that being an effective tourist in a few hours is more than possible even if you are starting from scratch, which I'm not this time).

Most of this time is devoted to spoken practice with a Hungarian teacher on italki.

I'm looking forward to heading back to Budapest and re-learning this “supposedly hardest language in the universe” (I'll have to re-read my own encouraging blog post on the language as part of my studies 😛 )

I'll share the results with you at the end of the project! If you have experience in reawakening dead languages in your head, share your tips with us in the comments!

There will probably be no video update with my concluding blog post, although I imagine there will be lots of videos recorded that weekend in other languages with the other polyglots 😉

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Benny Lewis

Founder, Fluent in 3 Months

Fun-loving Irish guy, full-time globe trotter and international bestselling author. Benny believes the best approach to language learning is to speak from day one.

Speaks: Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Esperanto, Mandarin Chinese, American Sign Language, Dutch, Irish

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