Hungarian is spoken by ten and a half million inhabitants of present-day Hungary, about three million people in the neighboring countries, and perhaps as many as an additional two million around the world. These figures make Hungarian, which is related to Finnish, Estonian, and Lappish, but virtually no other language in Europe, by far the largest minority language in the great Indo-European language territory.
Despite the isolation that might have been imposed by the uniqueness of their language, Hungarians have been engaged with, and participants in, greater European affairs since their arrival in the Carpathian basin more than a thousand years ago. Hungarians have made signal contributions in the fields of arts, science, and mathematics, winning Nobel prizes in Chemistry (4), Medicine (3), Physics (3), Economics, and Literature. In the music world the names Bártok, Kodály, Lehár, Liszt, Széll, Ormandy, Schiff, and many others are internationally famous. Leo Szilárd, Edward Teller, Paul Erdõs, and John von Neumann are famous figures in theoretical physics and mathematics. Joseph Biró developed the ball-point pen and to this day the British call a ball-point pen, a biro. Hungarians have also become famous in sports, particularly soccer, boxing, and fencing, and in the world of cinema. And who has not played with the Rubik's cube?
Hungarian studies at the University of Toronto focus on the history, language, literature, and culture of Hungary and on the international role of Hungary and Hungarians – particularly on Hungarian immigration to Canada. For many of the courses no prior knowledge of the Hungarian language is necessary, making them easily accessible also to students in other programs.
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Program Coordinator: Professor Robert Austin