Hungarian is the largest Uralic language in terms of the number of speakers. Hungarian is spoken as a native language by around 14,000,000 people in Hungary as well as in the neighbouring regions in Romania, Slovakia and Serbia, but also by a significant number of people in Ukraine and the United States.

Hungarian has the oldest literary language among the Uralic languages, and the history of literary Hungarian is divided into three periods: Old Hungarian (1000–1350), Middle Hungarian (1350–‍1600) and Modern Hungarian (1600–‍).

Written Hungarian occurs already in Islamic sources from the 800s to 900s, but the first actual text in Hungarian is Halotti Beszéd [Funeral Sermon] from the 1300s. 

To begin with, Hungarian literature comprised church and religious texts, but fiction, mainly poetry, has also been published since the 1500s and 1600s. For a long time, educated Hungarians used Latin or other major European languages (such as German). However, the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s and the Catholic Counter-Reformation in the 1600s accelerated the adoption of Hungarian as the literary language.

It was not until the language reform of the 1800s that Hungarian gained its full status as the official language of culture and government. The language reform aimed to develop Hungarian into a European language of culture and prevent the dominance of the German language in the intelligentsia and culture. The language reform resulted in literary Hungarian developing very close to its current form.

You will find content including an introduction to Hungarian and a “survival glossary” of Hungarian on the website of the Finnish–Hungarian Society.