A hundred years of The Hungarian Language

As The Hungarian Language is the journal of the Society of Hungarian Linguistics, its history is interwoven with that of the Society. And since the activities of the Society practically coincide with Hungarian linguistics in the twentieth century, its journal is a true representation of the results and vicissitudes of those one hundred years. The author glances over the process whereby the journal originally meant to serve the general public gradually turned into a scholarly organ; specifically, a high-standard professional forum of Hungarian linguistics. He divides the history of The Hungarian Language into two periods, 1905 to 1949 and 1949 to 2004. He points out that, in the first half of the century, the journal was the home of historical linguistics, notably that of what is known as the Budapest School. In the second half of the century, in response to the demands of the period, it opened its pages for descriptive linguistics, thereby making the proportions of those two disciplines more balanced; and in the past twenty-five years, it has been offering a large scope to several current trends of linguistics with widely diverse convictions. The appendix presents the interested reader with an annotated chronology of the work of the successive editors of the journal, on the basis of contemporary declarations and documents.

Zoltán Éder


Hungarian language enclaves and dialect enclaves in Romania

Twentieth-century studies and publications in Hungarian linguistic geography have made the description of a number of isolated Hungarian language and dialect areas possible. These descriptions, however, had to ignore the eastern part of the territory where Hungarian is spoken, the Transylvanian region, given that it was only after 1990 that the publication of “The Atlas of Hungarian Dialects in Romania” and other materials of linguistic geography had become feasible. Although the publication of those materials is not yet complete, the author thinks that it is now time to raise the issue, partly with the intention that its dialectological aspects be separated from sociolinguistic and ecolinguistic ones and also in order to propose, as a long-term research programme, the study of the Hungarian enclaves of the easternmost region. A fundamental characteristic of dialect enclaves is that they differ from surrounding areas in some of their relevant dialect-typological features. The regression of a formerly homogeneous dialect region (like the Mezőség region of Hungarian in Transylvania) due to the expansion of another language (Romanian, in this case) leaves scattered areas of the same type behind. These are enclaves in terms of their linguistic environment, but not in a dialectological sense. The consequences of demographic and intensive linguistic processes can be attested most clearly in fringe enclaves. As far as their origin goes, most fringe enclaves in Southern Transylvania exhibit features of the Székely dialect, as well as, to a lesser extent, those of the Mezőség dialect. Just like the Southern Transylvanian region as a whole, these include settlements whose Hungarian population is small and decreasing fast. The dialect of ethnic Germans around Nagykároly (Carei) who had turned Hungarian in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries retains some German traces, especially in phonetic/phonological and lexicological respects.

János Péntek

Objective-intellectual style in Attila József’s poetry

The introductory part of the paper deals with the definition of objective-intellectual style as a trend of the first half of the twentieth century, describing its characteristics, its sources, as well as the way its two components, objectivity and intellectuality, are combined. The second part of the paper analyses the later phase of Attila József’s poetry from the above points of view: in terms of what constructional and linguistic-stylistic devices help him express a settled world of ideas and ars poetica.

István Szathmári


On the morphosyntax of the Old Hungarian tense system

In this paper, I analyse the Old Hungarian tense system in the framework of Universal Grammar. In this analysis, the OH verb form mond ‘says’ represents Simple Present, monda ‘said’ is Simple Past, mondott ‘has said’ stands for Present Perfect, mond vala ‘was saying’ is an instance of Past Imperfective, and mondott vala ‘had said’ is that of Past Perfect. That is, I assume that -t, -tt was not a past tense marker in OH but rather that of perfective aspect; the past tense marker was -a/-e. I argue that the OH tense system was a typical instance of ‘complex tense systems’ marking both external time and the internal temporal structure of situations, i.e., marking both tense and aspect. The similarity between the Old Hungarian and Latin tense systems is not a contact phenomenon, the result of some medieval Latinate influence; merely Old Hungarian and Latin select their means of expressing tense and aspect from the same set of limited possibilities determined by Universal Grammar. Finally, I survey the change that took place in the Middle Hungarian period with respect to the verbal morphosyntax of Hungarian. Whereas Old Hungarian marked viewpoint aspect morphologically, Modern Hungarian represents a language type in which the marking of situation aspect is grammaticalized. As a reflex of this change, the PredP projection, hosting the verbal particle, took over the role of aspect marking; the earlier aspect suffix was reinterpreted as a tense marker; and the OH tense marker was eliminated from the language.

Katalin É. Kiss


On the status of pragmatics

The status of pragmatics is an issue of theoretical linguistics that is especially relevant within contemporary linguistic research. The first part of the paper deals with the problem of defining that relatively young discipline and its relation to grammar and linguistics in general. It systematises the most characteristic views on that issue, including the relationships between pragmatics and semantics and between pragmatics and modularity, respectively. The second part introduces some pertinent historical linguistic data, comparing the grammaticalisation of constructions of ‘to go’ with infinitives in Catalan and Spanish. It turns out that pragmatic factors play an important role in historical change, the discussion thus supports the efficiency of coupling pragmatics with historical linguistics that may prove to be fruitful for both areas. On the basis of historical data, conclusions can be drawn concerning the status of pragmatics, according to which pragmatics should be seen as situated within the theory of language, in close correlation with grammar, accepting a notion of modularity that goes beyond the classical Fodorian view.

Katalin Nagy