Homage to the memory of the founders
The second half of the nineteenth century and the first few years of the twentieth were the golden age of the foundation of scholarly societies in Hungary. Approaching the millennium of the Hungarian Conquest (895–896) and that of the foundation of the Hungarian State (1000), increasingly more attention was devoted to what can be called national branches of scholarship: history, ethnography, linguistics, and literary scholarship. Following the foundation of the Hungarian Historical Society and the Hungarian Society of Ethnography (but prior to that of the Society of Hungarian Literary History), linguists in this country founded their own scholarly society, the Society of Hungarian Linguistics, in 1904. The publication of the journal of the Society, The Hungarian Language, started in 1905. Representatives of adjoining fields of scholarship had an important share in the foundation of both the Society and the journal, as well as in keeping them going. Therefore, a fundamental principle of modern scholarship, interdisciplinarity, was attained from the very beginning. The foundation of the Society and of the journal also signalled the appearance of a new generation of linguists. Zoltán Gombocz, János Melich, József Balassa, Vilmos Tolnai, etc., continuing the endeavours of their predecessors but working with a more up-to-date methodology and wider international outlook, raised Hungarian linguistics to the level of the period. – The program of the Society can obviously only be measured against the circumstances, possibilities, and demands of the given period. But even seen from today, the plans and intentions laid down in the various documents and declarations can be deemed as being ahead of their time. In particular, these included general ambitions like publishing the results of linguistics for a wider audience, in a comprehensible form and in terms that are clear for all, as well as taking up a fight against dilettante pronouncements on language. With respect to the internal themes of the world of linguistics, the program included the investigation of various branches of historical linguistics, that of literary language and style, of the Language Reform, of specialised terminologies, of the dialects of Hungarian, and assistance in the practical tasks of language cultivation.
The Society of Hungarian Linguistics is a hundred years old
The Society of Hungarian Linguistics, a scholarly society of public utility, was founded in 1904 in Budapest. The main task of the Society has been, from the very beginnings, to promote an all-round scholarly investigation of the Hungarian language, to arouse general interest in the results of linguistics and spreading knowledge in that field, as well as to assist language development activities with respect to Hungarian. The author embeds his survey of the history of the Society celebrating its one hundredth anniversary in 2004 into a social historical and history-of-scholarship framework. He draws up the circumstances that fostered the foundation of the Society, commemorates the persons who first organised the Society and started its journal The Hungarian Language and its series of Publications of the Society of the Hungarian Linguistics, and discusses the aims with which the Society was founded. The history of the Society had its flourishing years and hard times, too (world wars, ideological changes, economic prosperity and poverty) but, thanks to its members and, above all, its able leaders, its activities were carried on among all those changes of circumstances. Up to the early sixties, it was the single most important scholarly body of linguistics in Hungary, representing Hungarian linguistic studies in the widest possible sense and uniting almost the totality of linguists in this country. Even at the beginning of the third millennium, among radically changed and changing circumstances, the Society of Hungarian Linguistics is the most populous scholarly society devoted to the investigation of the Hungarian language and to that of languages and linguistic issues in general.
The centennial celebration of the Society of Hungarian Linguistics
The Society of Hungarian Linguistics celebrated the centenary of its foundation on 1st December 2004, in the ceremonial hall of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
The jubilee meeting, attended by members, guests, and the general public in great numbers, was opened by Loránd Benkő, President of the Society. The presidential address was followed by a poem by Sándor Remenyik, ‘The verb’, performed by Ágnes Magony. The ‘Pro Musica’ choir of the Music Department of Eötvös Loránd University, conducted by Ákos Erdős, then sang ‘We came to celebrate’ by Hassler and ‘A fair prayer’ by Kodály. The final item of the artistic programme was the poem ‘Hungarian Language’ by Emil Ábrányi, recited by Ágnes Magony.
These artistic items were followed by introductory speeches. A letter
of salutation written on the occasion of the centenary by
Ferenc Mádl, President of the Hungarian Republic, was read out by Loránd Benkő.
Szilveszter E. Vizi, President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, then took the floor
and greeted the Society and those present on behalf of the Academy. This part of the
programme was concluded by Loránd Benkő’s talk entitled ‘Homage to the memory of the
Then congratulatory speeches were delivered on behalf of scholarly societies from Hungary and abroad. The Estonian Mother Tongue Society (Emakeele Selts) was represented by Tőnu Seilenthal (Tartu), and the Societas Uralo-Altaica by its managing director Eberhard Winkler (Göttingen). On behalf of the Finno-Ugric Society (Suomalais-Ugrilainen Seura, Helsinki), Ulla-Maija Kulonen had sent a telegram; the former President of the Turkish Society of Linguistics, and
honorary member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and of the Society of Hungarian Linguistics, Hasan Eren (Ankara) had sent a letter, both of which were read out next. The jubilant Society was then greeted by President Attila Paládi-Kovács on behalf of the Hungarian Society of Ethnography, by President Sándor Iván Kovács on behalf of the Society of Hungarian Literary History, and by President Alice Sárközi on behalf of the Kőrösi Csoma Society. The greetings of the Society of Semiotics were sent by President Vilmos Voigt in a letter. After the congratulatory messages and addresses, General Secretary Jenő Kiss made a speech on the history of the Society, entitled ‘The Society of Hungarian Linguistics is a hundred years old’.
After that, Loránd Benkő listed the new honorary members of the Society with words of appreciation on each of them, and handed over a document of their honorary membership to those of them who were present. The new honorary members of the Society are: Andrea Csillaghy and Danilo Gheno (Italy), Paul Kokla (Estonia), János Péntek (Kolozsvár, Romania), as well as László Kósa, Sándor Iván Kovács, and Attila Paládi-Kovács (Hungary).
The ten members of the Society of Hungarian Linguistics whose
membership dates back to the longest time were then awarded by memorial certificates on
the occasion of the centenary. They are, in the order of their joining the Society,
Katalin Bartha, László Deme, Éva Bottyánfy, László
Elekfi, Loránd Benkő, Stefánia Vermes, Ágota Turchányi, Éva Sal, Miklós Kázmér,
and Pál Fábián. Regrettably, only five of them were present in person. They were
given the certificates by the President of the Society (except the President himself who
received it from the General Secretary).
The centennial celebration was closed by Loránd Benkő’s presidential concluding remarks, including acknowledgements and best wishes to all members of the Society.
In what follows, the text of the addresses, as well as Loránd Benkő’s and Jenő Kiss’ talks will be published.
Studying literary Hungarian by
on the basis of Pál Medgyesi’s works
This paper investigates the way two features of the study of literary
language by the Prague Linguistic Circle were anticipated in the work of a
seventeenth-century Hungarian preacher, Pál Medgyesi. Those two features concern the
polifunctionalism and concomitant differentiation of linguistic means, as well as what can
be called intellectualisation, i.e., the elaboration of mainly lexical and syntactic
devices that make language appropriate for representing higher levels of abstraction and a
possibly most exact expression of the logical process of thinking. Going through
a number of phenomena clustering around those two concepts, the author emphasises that Medgyesi had expressed the most important terms of Ramus’ logic in Hungarian well before Apáczai, and was the first to construct the rhetoric of prayers and sermons, thus initiating the emergence of the Hungarian special terminology and rhetoric of the field and contributed to the development of Hungarian scholarly prose.
A cognitive semantic sketch on preverb–verb combinations
This paper presents the semantics of preverb–verb combinations as
semantic structures in
a cognitive linguistics framework. The presentation sketches a semantic description of prototypical preverb–verb combinations as the default case, using the methodology of Langacker’s theory of semantic structure and composite structure, and as an implementation of blending elaborated by Fauconnier. The basis of discussion is the functional cognitive principle claiming that the meanings of linguistic units and expressions, as well as their structures emerging from their meanings, are of a semantic, eventually conceptual and empirical, origin. Accordingly, the general semantic characterisation of preverb–verb combinations is followed by the discussion of some sentence semantic issues involving such combinations.
Gábor Tolcsvai Nagy