Hungarian Runes

As if Romanian and Hungarian wouldn’t be hard enough already, I have discovered a third alphabet, hitherto unknown to me, on street signs in the Szeklerland in Romania.

DSCN4825The writing directly above the arrow is in Old Hungarian script, also called Hungarian runes or Szekler script.

This script, which consists of 45 characters, is read from right to left. It is believed to originate from Turkish or Siberian runic script and dates back to the 8th century. Because this runic script has a character for each of the Hungarian sounds which are unpronounceable to the rest of the world, it is actually better suited for Hungarian than the Latin alphabet. Hence there are indeed voices which seek to reintroduce this ancient script for current use. The translators at the European Union institutions will be happy.

Here is the complete alphabet, just in time for the next trip to Hungary:

660px-Szekely_Hungarian_Rovas_alphabet_Szekely_magyar_rovas_ABC.svg(I took the photo in Gheorgheni in Romania. – Hier gibt es diesen Beitrag auf Deutsch.)

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Hungary, Language, Romania, Travel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Hungarian Runes

  1. vidavidav says:

    Looks a bit like Greek and Japanese :D

  2. You won’t see this in Hungary, only in Szeklerland.
    And Romanian is MUCH easier than Hungarian, because it belongs to the Latin phylum.
    An interesting fact: There’s a store in the Fortuna intersection in Targu-Mures, called Góbé shop, filled with Transylvanian – Hungarian products. Each product is labeled with Szekler script besides the Hungarian and Romanian writing, pretty interesting even for me, as a Hungarian…

    • So if you’re in the mood for local-specific products instead of globalized stuff, that’s the place to go. They even have Szekler beer :D

    • True, Romanian is really much easier. With my little knowledge of Italian, I am surprised how much Romanian I can read.

      I tried to find the Góbé shop and I am not sure I got the right one. It was called Merkur and had the Góbé sign outside and lots of Hungarian products inside. But I did not find any beer or coke with runic writing. But it was funny to see so many “Original Ungarische Spezialitäten” labelled in German. :-)

    • That’s it, the Merkur!
      I’m sorry, I’m just looking at the bottle of the beer and it indeed has no funky writing on it. The label is Igazi CSÍKI SÖR, and it has a significantly different taste than other beers (mostly owned by Heineken), because it has no additives. It’s in glass bottles, and you can see it right at the entrance. It has a moon+star as its symbol.
      So did you buy anything authentic? :)

    • I bought different sausages, a new kind of bread and Hungarian pasta, and I was happy to find some “Röstzwiebel”. It seems that Hungarian food is even closer to German food than Romanian food.

      I will try the beer next time! Is there also a Szekler cola?

    • I’m not a cola fan so I’m not one to know. But since this new beer appeared this Winter, it’s the only place we buy our beer from. Although it has a different taste, I’d rather give money for something local than a huge global company.
      Well considering the Austro-Hungarian Empire, of course it’s closer :).

    • Andy B. says:

      What are you talking about? I see quite a lot of Old Hungarian script in Hungary. (e.g. or

      Anyway, Old Hungarian runes were unearthed in Transdanubia too (Pecs, Bodrog–Alsobu)….

    • Wow! I didn’t know this :) Thanks!

  3. Pingback: Ungarische Runen | Der reisende Reporter

  4. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

    Uh oh! Looks so complicated!

  5. smellofsense says:

    Oh. I’m from Romania but I have never heard about that Szekler script :)

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