Probably best known for playing Olivia Benson in Law and Order: SVU, Mariska Hargitay has been dominant on the small screen for years now.
The daughter of the legendary actress Jayne Mansfield, and formerly Mr. Universe, Mickey Hargitay, Mariska Hargitay grew up in a multi-lingual and travel-friendly household. With this in mind, the question arises, what languages does Mariska Hargitay speak and how fluent is she?
Let’s dive in and find out more.
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How Many Languages Can Mariska Hargitay Speak?
In actual fact, Mariska Hargitay can actually speak five languages with relative ease and fluency, which is super impressive. For anyone who watches Law and Order: SVU, it’ll come as no surprise that Mariska Hargitay is multi-lingual.
Her character, Olivia Benson, frequently speaks other languages on the show, so it’s clear to see that Mariska is comfortable speaking other languages.
Which Languages Does Mariska Hargitay Speak?
In the long list of languages that Mariska Hargitay speaks we have English, Hungarian, French, Italian, and Spanish. Although some of those languages have a crossover, it’s impressive to see the sheer amount of languages that the actor speaks.
Growing up in the States, Mariska Hargitay’s first language is English and this is the language that she primarily acts in, although there are instances where she’s on camera speaking Spanish and Italian.
Can Mariska Hargitay Speak Hungarian?
As Mariska Hargitay is half-Hungarian on her father’s side, yes, she can speak Hungarian. Her father, Mickey Hargitay, was a famous actor and bodybuilder who was born in Budapest. Having moved to the US to avoid military duty in Hungary, Mickey became a citizen, eventually winning Mr. Universe.
Although both Mariska and Mickey are US citizens, they frequently returned to Hungary, especially during Mariska’s childhood. There are tons of clips and footage of Mariska speaking Hungarian and even clips of her singing in Hungarian.
Anyone who’s tried to learn Hungarian will know how difficult it is to speak and to learn, especially if English is your first language. Given her roots, speaking Hungarian will have been an important part of Mariska’s upbringing.
Does Mariska Hargitay Speak French?
Despite there being no footage online, it has been confirmed that Mariska can speak French. As there’s no evidence in the public sphere, we don’t know how fluent she is, but it’s assumed that she learned how to speak French at school.
French is a compulsory language requirement in a lot of high schools across the US, so it’s not unusual to pick up some of the languages. Given Mariska’s talent for languages, it seems like she’d pick up the language easier than most of her peers.
Want to check what level of French you are? This free quiz run by AI will figure out exactly what level you are (it’s crazy accurate!)
Can Mariska Hargitay Speak Italian?
If you’ve watched Law and Order: SVU, you’ll know already that Mariska Hargitay can speak Italian. Olivia Benson frequently uses Italian in the show, using a talent and skill that Hargitay already had before claiming the role.
Mariska Hargitay learned Italian while she was growing up as her father, Mickey, often took her on vacation to Italy in the summer. The fact that she can still speak it so well shows that she’s committed not only to learning languages but also to practicing and maintaining her skills so she doesn’t lose them!
Can Mariska Hargitay Speak Spanish?
Similarly to her Italian skills, we know that Mariska Hargitay can speak Spanish as her character in Law and Order: SVU commonly speaks the language on screen. It’s unclear where she learned the language, but there are a few theories.
As her lines are often scripted, she may have learned Spanish specifically for the show. However, it’s more likely that she learned some Spanish at school. After English, it’s the most taught language in US schools, and more so in Los Angeles, where Hargitay grew up, so there are plenty of ways that she could’ve gained her Spanish skills.
Just under half the population of LA speaks Spanish, so growing up in the City of Angels, it’s highly likely that Mariska would’ve picked up the language just by being immersed in it. Immersion is actually one of the best ways to learn any new language, so if you can surround yourself with your target language, you should absolutely do it!
Take this free quiz to find out what your level is in Spanish on the CEFR scale (from A1 to C2!).
Can Mariska Hargitay Speak German?
Despite the fact that Mariska’s other half is the German actor Peter Hermann, there’s no evidence that she can speak German. She has said in the past that they raise their children in a multilingual household, so it does seem like their children can speak German even if Mariska can’t herself.
Her husband actively speaks to their kids in German at home to improve their language skills.
Either way, it wouldn’t be surprising to hear Mariska or Olivia Benson speak German in the near future, given how she’s surrounded by the language at home! If her immersive Italian and Spanish skills are anything to go off, she’s not far off adding a sixth language to her skillset!
Does Mariska Hargitay Like Learning Languages?
Considering how many languages Mariska Hargitay can speak it definitely seems like she enjoys learning languages! Given that her mother, the amazing actress Jayne Mansfield, also spoke five languages, it feels as if linguistic skills are in her blood.
She’s also made it really clear how much she wants her family to be multilingual. This shows how much she values language learning and why it’s so important for people to know other languages in the future.
Where Can I Learn Hungarian?
Hungarian is a super tricky language to learn and if you don’t have a native family member to help you learn like Mariska Hargitay, you might want to use a language-learning app. You can learn Hungarian on a range of apps, but I’d recommend the scientifically-backed Pimsleur app which is focused on speaking skills that get you talking in Hungarian from the get-go.
If you’re just looking to improve your vocabulary skills in Hungarian, you should also check out Drops. It’s a beautifully-designed flashcard game that is jam-packed with words and phrases that you can learn on the go.
If you can’t get a Hungarian tutor where you are, these awesome language-learning apps are a great method for mastering a language in a practical and flexible way.
Be a Multilingual Individual Like Mariska!
So, as it turns out Mariska Hargitay is a super-talented, multilingual actor, who can speak an amazing five different languages to a relatively high, conversational level.
That includes English, Hungarian, Spanish, French, and Italian, some of which she’s spoken on screen as her iconic Law and Order: SVU character, Olivia Benson. Truly a language aficionado!
Read More About Language Learning:
- What Languages Does Natalie Portman Speak?
- Can Michelle Obama Speak Multiple Languages?
- Which Languages Does Nicki Minaj Speak?
- Is Mbappe Fluent in Portuguese?
- Can Albert Einstein Speak French?
Dayna Brockbank is a travel and language-learning blogger who has lived around the world but has now settled in Nice, France. She speaks 3 languages at varying levels of fluency: Spanish, Italian, and French, and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Spanish Education. She and her husband focus on making travel part of life by living cheaply and traveling on a budget.