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Nov-19-15  zanzibar: <NeverAgain> The audio was uploaded by AnnieK, whose a native(?) Hungarian speaker.

I certainly defer to her expertise in this matter.

Jozsef Szen (kibitz #18)

User: Annie K.

Szen being Hungarian, I'm not sure how much importance to attach to the Russian transliteration.

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  NeverAgain: I don't doubt Annie K.'s expertise in Hungarian, it's just that the audio snippet is not clear.

Russian transliteration is usually phonetic (except for some historic names) and thus is one of the more reliable pointers to the correct pronunciation. E.g. "Zurich" - unless you are familiar with German you would have no idea how to pronounce it correctly (i.e. "Ts-you-rikh" rather than "Zoo-rich"). In Russian you just pronounce it as it's written (in vast majority of cases).

I pinged Annie in her forum, let's see what she has to say about this case.

Nov-20-15  sneaky pete: I listened to Annie 5 times in a row, and I clearly hear her say Szen, not Sin, so I agree with that music teacher.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Annie K.: Heh, ok, Szén...

<zanz> yes, I'm a native Hungarian speaker. :) Szén does not sound like 'sin' (and it certainly doesn't sound like 'zen' either, but it's not like you should ever take <offramp>'s "information" seriously anyway...). ;p

<NeverAgain> you are quite right that Russian transliteration tends to be more reliable than Latin, especially these days, when Latin transliteration aims for English half the time and Latin-type the other half, but the problem is that it's still not worth much when the vowel in case (é) doesn't exist in Russian, any more than it does in English.

Uh, how do I explain this... ok, let's start with the easy part, 'Sz'. As I, and others, have already posted here and there, Hungarian 's' = English 'sh'. So for the English 's' sound, Hungarians use 'sz'.

This "using two letters as a symbol for one phoneme" is no more convoluted than English using 'sh', 'ch', etc. in the exact same fashion, so get over it, folks. ;p

So when you see the letters 'sz' together in a Hungarian name, as in Szén, just read it as 's', and forget about the 'z'.

I can't avoid the é part forever, can I? Hmmph. Right, é is a sound sortof between (Latin type) i and e, not exactly like either. Try to listen to that audio... the problem is that when you say it's "unclear", what you really mean is "unfamiliar" and/or "unrecognized". Well, it's not unclear, but if you're an English native speaker, it *is* unfamiliar and unrecognized to you, and it's going to stay that way, as long as you listen to it while attempting to recognize it as something familiar. That's not going to happen, because 'é' doesn't exist in English. If you want to hear it as what it actually is, try to force you mind and ear into 'listening' mode, instead of 'recognition' mode. That's easier said than done, but that's the best I can advise. :)

Nov-20-15  zanzibar: Ha! Well, <sneaky>, of course AnnieK's version sounds like Szen, that's the name she's pronouncing!

A couple of questions for you then...

<zen>, rhyming with then, has this e sound (click the little speaker icon):


<scene>, rhyming with obscene, has a different e sound:


When vowel sounds closest to AnnieK's Szen version?

Next, in order to calibrate, we need to access your ear's accuracy. Would you so kind as to please take these aural tests...

(Click the Adaptive Pitch test, and also the ToneDeaf test)

... and report back?

(I did 3.6 Hz on the one, and 88.9% on the other, just now.)

Nov-20-15  zanzibar: Ah, I see that AnnieK has weighed in. Thanks.

Yes, I agree the Hungarian vowel doesn't map exactly to the English. I still think it closer to the i in sin than the e in zen. And with the Sz mapping into s... well Szen is closer to sin than zen.

Which certainly would make him more fun to have a beer with.

Anyways, this was a good excuse for me to post the AdaptivePitch music tests, which are really fun to take, at least for me.

Nov-20-15  zanzibar: I just took the Rhythm test. It has me at 68%. Adequate, but not quite drummer material.

Of course, we know Biographers can really keep a beat...

Premium Chessgames Member
  Annie K.: <zanz: <I still think it closer to the i in sin than the e in zen>>

No, it isn't. ;p It's about equally distant from both. :)

If anything, it's closest to 'sane', but the sound in 'sane' is a diphthong, and é is not. Nor is is very close to that diphthong, really, it's just closer to it than it is to either e or i.

Premium Chessgames Member
  NeverAgain: Bingo! I think you hit the nail on the head with this last post, Annie. "Sane" is the key to emulating the correct Hungarian pronunciation, just stop before you get to the "i" part of the diphthong.

I have strong faith in IPA , and according to it the phoneme /eː/ is

a) "Long [e]. Similar to English hey, before the y sets in" (above link) b) the vowel sound in the Russian "шея"

So for the English-speaking ppl "a long [e]" should be a reasonable approximation.

Nov-20-15  zanzibar: OK, I'm officially retiring from this in-Szen business!
Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: Puns will always be in vogue no matter the Szen-tury.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: This sins are szenful.
Premium Chessgames Member
  NeverAgain: Széim on you for derailing this discussion with your szensless puns, guys.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Darn auto-correct!

I meant "These puns are szenful."

A waste of a good post.

Nov-20-15  zanzibar: Only if we refrain from szending will it ever szend!
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: "I Left My Heart in Szen Francisco..."
Premium Chessgames Member
  Annie K.: <NeverAgain: <Széim on you ...>>

Heh, very close, but I think you mean 'Séim on you'! ;)

OK, Biographers, next Hungarian lesson:

<zs is not sz>

(There will be a surprise exam one of these days!)

So now you all know that in any Hungarian name, 'sz' should be pronounced 's'. Good, but I had better not catch you trying to pronounce the Polgar sisters' original names as 'Susa' and 'Sofia'!

They are Zsuzsa and Zsófia (just consider that vowel a 'long o' for now...), and 'zs' is not to be confused with 'sz'.

'Zs', also a two-letter symbol for one phoneme, is to be pronounced... hmm, I've been informed that most of you will know how to pronounce Zsa Zsa Gabor, so that's how. :p

In case you don't, it's the sound English speakers usually denote as 'zh', pronounced like the "s" in 'treasure'.

Oh, and btw, if you see the letters 'cs', in names like 'Csaba Balogh'? They are to be pronounced as 'ch'. So it's "Chaba".

OK, that's it for today, take two aspirin and lie down for a bit. ;)

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Thank you <Annie K.>! Good to know.
Nov-22-15  thegoodanarchist: <Annie K.: Heh, ok, Szén...

<zanz> yes, I'm a native Hungarian speaker.>

You are a Polgar sister in disguise?

Nov-24-15  Stalwart: I wrote a chess book and put it up for free at

and it contains ~200 microbiographies of the more famous players over the last five hundred years with one or more recorded games ending in a forced mate. I am hoping some of you experts will take a look at it and leave comments on the website to help me refine the accuracy of my assertions. Thank you kindly, Terran

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: F Alexander vs G A Thomas, 1919

<Ulhumbrus> has very kindly added Capablanca's (and Thomas's) notes to this game in the kibitzing section. Could someone intertwine the notes with the game score?

ALSO that game has in its heading <London-ch corr (1919)>. But Capablanca says it was played in the "championship of the City of London Chess Club in the winter of 1919-1920."

Nov-25-15  zanzibar: <Stalwart> why is the pdf for your book 1.1Gb long?

Here's a link which works, which I found on <>:

Did you put pictures of a real board for all 480(?) puzzles?

I'm distrustful of downloading it. First of all, 1.1Gb is too big for a normal book. Second, 1.1Gb is too big for Google Drive to do a virus scan.

Too bad - it looks like you're really researched it:

Nov-25-15  zanzibar: <offramp> RE: annotations.

That's a lot of work, twining the moves and commenting together into a PGN from the intertwined comments.

(Another hint... for the cafe quiz btw)

Nov-25-15  zanzibar: A question for Biographers...

Jozsef Szen (kibitz #33)

where I asked what book was the source for Szen's photograph?

No answer there, but on the outside chance I'll ask here as well.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Stalwart: I wrote a chess book and put it up for free at

and it contains ~200 microbiographies...>

...And it is 1.1Gb.

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