On the history of the ethnonym székely in the Old Hungarian period

There have been continual attempts over the past one and a half centuries to reveal the etymology of the term székely, used to identify a particular ethnic group of Hungarians. The fact that such attempts have invariably proved unsuccessful may be partly due to their widely divergent ways of reasoning. However, the fundamental problem with them must lie in three factors: their insufficient philological foundations, their mainly preconceived ideas, and the lack of solid clues to the etymons suggested. A prerequisite for obtaining a clearer view is the establishment of the Early Old Hungarian form of the term, on the basis of a critical evaluation of the available data. There are no attested occurrences of the ethnic name székely prior to the 12th century. Subsequently, due to the learned etymologising of Hungarian authors of the period, the term Siculus (originally denoting an ancient ethnic group living in Sicily) was used instead for a long time. Beginning with the early 13th century, traces of the actual Hungarian term occurred increasingly often in personal and place names. As reflected in these, the term must have had the form sze# kël ~ sze# köl in Early Old Hungarian; a form that clearly contradicts all previously suggested etymons. The alternation ë ~ ö in the second syllable may have important consequences for the geographical/migrational aspects of the early history of this ethnic group.

Loránd Benkő

An etymological statistics of the Old Hungarian ‘Lamentations of Mary’

In an earlier paper published in 2000, the author investigated the proportions of occurrence of the various etymological categories in present-day Hungarian short stories. Using the principles and methods established there, and paying an appropriate amount of attention both to the general picture and to the essential details, he has now completed an etymological statistics of one of the oldest and most precious early texts written in Hungarian, the 13th-century Old Hungarian ‘Lamentations of Mary’, with respect to both the words occurring in that text and the roots that they include. — The text, also known as the first extant Hungarian poem, has so far mainly been subjected to investigation in terms of historical stylistics, phonology, morphology, and semantics; from an etymological point of view, it was merely certain particular portions of it that have received attention. Therefore, the author considered it important to present an etymological statistical analysis of the full text.

László Horváth

Plant names in the period of the Hungarian Language Reform

The language of science in Hungary had been Latin for a long time. Although medical-botanical books were published in Hungarian as early as in the 16—17th centuries (e.g. one by Péter Méliusz Juhász in 1578, and one by Ferenc Pápai Páriz in 1690), larger-scale and scientifically oriented Hungarianisation of technical terminology did not start until the period of the Hungarian Language Reform, beginning in the second half of the 18th century and becoming fully accomplished in the 19th century. The paper reviews, in a history-of-science perspective, the major works that contributed in that period to the establishment of the modern plant name nomenclature. It explores the sources of that vocabulary (popular language, old Hungarian words, artificial coinages, calques, etc.) and evaluates it in terms of morphological, semantic, and lexical criteria.

János Rácz

Text typological interpretation of an archaic type of folk prayer

Hungarian ethnographic research has recently produced and published important collections of archaic folk prayers and incantations mixing Christian and pagan features and carrying traces of an ancient magical world view. The scientific exploration of the material has been started, primarily in ethnographic terms. The present paper approaches this topic in a linguistic, in particular, text linguistic, perspective. Among other issues, it investigates whether archaic folk prayers, and especially epic incantations, can be assigned to text types as established by textology (and if they can, on the basis of what criteria), what relationship can be found between individual folklore genres and text types, and what role do variation and historical change play in typology.

Katalin Pelczer

The frontier zone of linguistics: science or scholarship?

The author raises the issue of whether language description belongs with the humanities or the (natural) sciences. Granting that linguistic research combines aspects of both general areas of knowledge, the author unambiguously assigns the linguistics of the future to the realm of sciences. However, for that to come true, a paradigm shift would be needed whereby linguists would be able to rely on the results of e.g. modern genetics and brain research to a much larger extent than today. Thereby mental endowments and processes could be described more exactly and it would become possible to define innate vs. acquired components of the linguistic faculties. The author argues that, in terms of its methods and partly even of its theories, linguistics up to the 20th century, including generative linguistics (despite all self-definitions and declarations to the contrary), should still be assigned to the humanities.

Tamás Gecső

Featural composition of segmental phonological units and sound substitutions by aphasic speakers

Among impairments involving deficits of linguistic abilities, it is perhaps aphasia that is the most important with respect to the way language works. This is because, in this type of disability, non-normative linguistic forms are produced by strategies that are also present in simple errors in normal everyday speech, in language acquisition, as well as in historical changes of the language system. The paper investigates cases of sound substitution, one of the most frequent phenomena in aphasic speech production; especially cases involving differences in a single distinctive feature. After discussing the selection of subjects and the method of investigation, the author presents a statistical survey of sound substitutions occurring among vowels and consonants, pointing out the typical as well as rarer shifts of articulation, and identifying the features that are involved in substitutions the most often. The last part of the paper suggests possibilities for further research, with special emphasis on the investigation of universals.

Judit Szépe

Indicative forms of t-final verbs as a universal variable?

In the spring of 1988, the Hungarian Public Opinion Research Institute and the Linguistics Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences conducted a questionnaire test about selected issues of language use involving a 850-member representative sample of the over-18 population of Hungary. A comparable study in 1996 explored the language use of Hungarians living in neighbouring countries as well as those living in Hungary. The author’s own data collection and analysis of the language of Hungarians in Subcarpathia (Ukraine) was subsequently conducted in a similar manner. The present paper seeks to find out if, and to what extent, substandard grammatical homonymy in indicative vs. imperative forms of t-final verbs can be seen as a regional phenomenon or if it is characteristic of the Carpathian Basin as a whole. The main conclusion of this sociolinguistic study is that the occurrence and use of such homonyms, going back to the popular speech of earlier centuries, exhibit a similar tendency throughout the Carpathian Basin as concerns its broad outlines, although the detailed results are also influenced by the character of the individual tasks that were presented to the subjects.

István Csernicskó

Names in László Németh’s oeuvre

László Németh, an outstanding representative of 20th-century Hungarian fiction, was born 100 years ago. His method of writing was characterised by a high degree of deliberateness, based on the writer’s enormous erudition. Such deliberateness is observable also in the way he gave names to his characters or settings. This paper, based on data collected by university students, analyses a large number of his novels, short stories, and plays, trying to find out the factors that may have motivated the choice of names of persons or places in them. Of special interest are passages in which the writer himself gives a direct or indirect account of the background to his giving a particular name or of the atmosphere or associative field of certain names.

Ágnes Szoboszlay-Kornya