Hyphenation by written form
The rules of hyphenation are based on syllables. The number of syllables is defined by the number of vowels.
- Every syllable must contain one and only one vowel (even if two vowels are sometimes pronounced as a diphthong, as in augusztus or autóbusz).
- A syllable can begin with:
- at most one consonant: város (“city”) → vá-ros. If there are multiple consonants between vowels, only one can go to the next syllable: lajstrom (“list”) → lajst-rom
- up to three initial consonants in the first syllable of a word: struktúra (“structure”) → struk-tú-ra
- a vowel if it is preceded by a vowel: diónyi (“nut-sized”) → di-ó-nyi
- Although not incorrect, it is not recommended to leave a single vowel at the end or the beginning of a line: biológia (“biology”) → bi-o-ló-gia, augusztus (“August”) → au-gusz-tus. None of these words are hyphenated: Áron (“Aaron”), tea (“tea”), ágyú (“cannon”).
- ch is treated as a single letter: pszichológia (“psychology”) → pszi-cho-ló-gia, zürichi (“from Zürich”) → zü-ri-chi
- x is treated as a single letter: taxi → ta-xi (and not *tak-szi, based on phonetics), oxigén (“oxygen”) → oxi-gén
- dz is treated as a single letter: madzag (“string”) → ma-dzag
- dzs is treated as a single letter: menedzser (“manager”) → me-ne-dzser
- Long double consonants are separated and their original forms are restored if they are at the boundary of two syllables: meggyes (“cherry-flavoured”) → megy-gyes
- Double vowels can be separated: vákuum (“vacuum”) → vá-ku-um
- Long consonants can also be separated: tonna (“ton”) → ton-na
- Inflectional suffixes are not considered elements on their own. E.g. although the stem of pénzért (“for money”) is pénz, its hyphenation is pén-zért rather than *pénz-ért.
- In compound words and verbs with a verbal prefix, the word boundaries are kept. The elements are separated and hyphenated separately: vasút (“railway”), lit. ‘iron-road,’ → vas-út (and not *va-sút), országgyűlés (“parliament”), lit. ‘country assembly’, → or-szág-gyű-lés (and not or-szágy-gyű-lés), megáll (“to stop”) → meg-áll (and not *me-gáll)
- Some words might seem to be compounds although they are not: jobbágy (“serf”) → job-bágy, although jobb (“better”) and ágy (“bed”) are existing words.
- Sometimes different ways of hyphenation reflect different words. Compare:
Hyphenation by pronunciation
Hyphenation follows pronunciation, rather than the written form in the cases listed below. Here the general rule is first to pronounce the word, hyphenate the pronounced form based on the written form rules and translate the such hyphenated word back to the original.
- If a word contains several vowels but they are pronounced as a single sound, it cannot be hyphenated:
- Soós (“a surname”) /ˈʃoːʃ/
- blues /ˈbluːz/
- Hughes /ˈhjuːz/
- Traditional Hungarian surnames are hyphenated by pronunciation:
- Beöthy /ˈbøːti/ → Beö-thy
- Baloghék /ˈbalogeːk/ ‘the Balogh family’ → Ba-lo-ghék
- móriczos /ˈmoːrit͡soʃ/ ‘typical of Móricz’ → móri-czos
- The same principle applies to foreign common names and proper names:
- Ljub-lja-na (because lj denote a single sound)
- Gior-gio (because gi denote a single sound)
- Fischer /ˈfiʃɛr/ → Fi-scher (because sch denote a single sound)
- Baudelaire /ˈboːdlɛr/ → Baude-laire
- Cooper /ˈkuːpɛr/ → Coo-per
- Washington /ˈvɒʃiŋkton/ → Wa-shing-ton
- Acronyms can be hyphenated if they contain at least two vowels:
- NATO /ˈnaːtoː/ → NA-TO
- NATO-ért /ˈnaːtoːeːrt/ ‘for the NATO’ → NA-TO-ért (acronym with a suffix)
- Apart from the hyphenation based on pronunciation, foreign compounds may be hyphenated at their boundary, if the prefix or suffix is widely recognized, e.g. fotog-ráfia (by syllables) or foto-gráfia (by elements).
- Surnames ending in -ffy are considered compound names, so they follow the compound rule: Pálffy /ˈpálfi/ → Pál-ffy (and not *Pálf-fy).
- Kossuth /ˈkoʃuːt/ is hyphenated as Kos-suth, although the ss is pronounced short.